Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Raven at Chijmes - Gastrobar That Tickles The Senses

Gastrobars with genuine good food is a bit of a rarity here. Then again, great food in general is also quite a challenge in this current climate of cost cutting and manpower shortage issues.

Raven at Chijmes aims to be the exception and for the most part, succeeds in differentiating itself from being a mere pub and grub experience.

Touting their cuisine as the New Americas, it is a neatly intertwined fusion of modern classics and American comfort food. The kitchen team has wisely incorporated some Asian and local elements into the fold to placate the local tastes.

Their cocktails and alcoholic selection are, as I have been reliably informed, of a class of its own. With cocktails that dazzle and a range of beers and spirits to quench the thirsty, the watering aspects of Raven is undoubtable.

Burratina and Heirloom Tomatoes

Coined as sharing plates instead of the usual Spanish invoking tapas, their portions are large enough to share among a group of four and not too small to be deprived of sufficient consuming quantities.

The burratina and heirloom combination is faultless as usual, and a local tinge of gula melaka into the balsamic dressing adds a certain liveliness that does not go unappreciated. An appetising way to start an evening of good food and drinks.

Fried Chorizo Croquettes

An even better option and a modern, pretty take on classic beer fare, this plate of fried croquettes will go perfect with the beers and ciders on offer here.

A spicy twist to the potato classic, the b├ęchamel and cheesy richness encased within a crunchy exterior fried to a perfect crust is just too good to stop at one. Or two. Or three. Or ...

Crispy Nori Wrapped Salmon

Whilst not my favourite of the night, I can see why it will prove popular with the masses. Another crunchy fest, the crispy nori and panko crumbs ensures that some partying will be done in the mouth, especially when you go with the bursty, bubbly ponzu sago to give the fish the much needed explosion of flavours.

Handmade Open Beef Ravioli

What really took my gastronomic breath away on the night is this tempting looking plate of handmade beef ravioli. Wondrous technique of making the pasta as thin and light as humanly possible and yet, retaining a beautiful bite already had me at hello.

The seduction of my culinary senses is complete with the braised pulled beef that has been cooked to a tender submission. That classic full on taste of robust beef flavours, coupled with the equally engaging red wine sauce makes the perfect partnership, beef wise.

The additional carrot cream and wilted spinach are superfluous but nevertheless, well made and brings a light sweetness to the occasion. And what an occasion this is. One of my favourite dishes this year.

Chocolate Overdose

As if they knew how much I enjoyed the Die Die Must Try Chocolate dessert from the Halia, this chocolate overdose plate proves to be a worthy challenger to the king of chocolate dessert.

Barring the microwave sponge which I am not particularly keen on, everything else sings and soars to a chocolate fan's peak of delight. From the sorbet to the mousse to the wafer to the tempered chocolate, each of the elements comes together like a chocolate gastronomic dream with its precision of technique and its elegance in execution. A bravo moment for the pastry chef.

Not everything hits the same high marks, though they are not as far off as you would think either. The much touted burger lacks a bit of seasoning and did not seem as balanced as other better ones out there. The matcha opera cake looks the part but lacks the matcha oomph to give it a certain level of balance.

Those two slight missteps aside, the pricey octopus salad is another enjoyable dish and the roasted corn may be simple but will prove just as addictive.

I certainly enjoyed some of the flourishes and inventiveness of the kitchen staff and there is much potential here if they keep honing and refining their culinary craft. Perhaps a touch more receptiveness to the diners' feedback to adjust some little components here and there is all that is needed to bring this to the next level.

Raven at Chijmes
30 Victoria Street

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