Olivia is worth the hype
Olivia Restaurant & Lounge at Keong Saik Road came onto the scene a couple of months ago, and has seen an outpouring of accolades ever since.
It seems we cannot get enough of this restaurant.
Sometimes the excitement leads to disappointment (just like a couple of places at Jewel Changi Airport), but in this case, the hype is legit.
Olivia is lively and noisy, full of diners and friendly servers led by the energetic, charming Miquel Sabria. Do not be intimidated - just head in and enjoy the night.
The chef is Alain Devahive (formerly of El Bulli and most recently Catalunya), so you know the food at least is going to be very good.
There is an intimacy amid the chaos.
The tables are set comfortably apart so that you can enjoy your private moments, yet the layout is open so you can have your eye on the action - and the eye candy - all night.
The menu is small but you do not need a hefty one when almost everything you serve is delicious.
There are many good bites at Olivia, but one of the most memorable ones for me is the "Ibiza" Style Fish & Seafood Stew ($38).
I am all for a good stew, especially when it is punchy and heavy with ingredients, and this has all that.
Each mouthful is loaded with texture and layers of flavour.
The Octopus, Crispy Pork Belly and Potato Foam ($35) combines three elements that many people like, so it is a crowd pleaser.
The octopus is well-executed but it is the pork belly - with the right amount of crisp and fat - that makes it special.
It may look airy, but the Roasted Meat Canelon with Parmesan Cream ($24) is one dense bite filled with an almost creamy roll of beef cheek.
The cheese does not overwhelm, though if you are a light eater, this may be too much for you to handle.
I have never been much of a dessert fan, but after tasting two of what is available here, I am a convert.
The eyes-rolled-back deliciousness of Olivia's Creamy Homemade Cheesecake ($14 a slice, $80 for the whole cake) is made possible by the hint of blue cheese in it.
You can buy a whole cake too, which is great because it means you can slowly finish this off in the privacy of your home.
Another outstanding dessert is the Warm Chocolate Foam ($8).
I love the bitterness from the dark chocolate because it balances the density of the dish. There are hints of sweet swirling within the chocolate foam but it never takes over.
So besotted am I with the desserts, I am actually planning to return just for them.
While my favourite Olivia is still Olivia Newton-John, this Olivia comes a very close and delicious second.
Olivia Restaurant & Lounge
55 Keong Saik Road, Tel: 6221-0522
Opens Tuesdays to Thursdays, 11.30am to 2pm, 6pm to 10pm;
Fridays and Saturdays 11.30am to 2pm, 6pm till late