The hype: Former Executive Chef of the now-closed Catalunya Singapore and elBulli in Spain, Alain Devahive steps out with his partner to open Olivia, a lush establishment celebrating all things Barcelona—its traditions, its family ethos, and above all its hearty, fine food. Presenting plates that showcase the multiethnicity of Barcelona rather than a one-size-fits-all Spanish cuisine, the restaurant is one of a cluster of dining outlets under new hospitality lifestyle concept KeSa House.
The vibe: Its prime location on Keong Saik Road secured, Olivia spares no expense in its decor—comfortable and stylish with authentic Barcelonan touches. Exposed brick and hand-painted ceramics on the walls give way to coastal-inspired furniture and pots flown in direct from Barcelona. It’s like being instantly transported to a cosy but elegant family restaurant in Spain.
The food: The extensive menu espouses one simple idea—that the overworked ‘tapas’ is not about small plates, but a philosophy on communal dining and sharing a meal with your loved ones. As such, you’ll find decadent and generous portions of Barcelona-inspired food; some homey, some on par with fine dining.
That’s not to say there are no small plates. Worth the splurge are choice appetizers like the rarely found Dry-Aged Galician Beef ($32), indented from Barcelona, marinated for a staggering 45 days; and great alone or with the crusty house bread. Alternatively, you can’t go wrong with the Iberico Ham Croquettes ($7), or the Homemade “Catalunya” Lobster-Avocado Roll ($25), if it’s creamy, indulgent comfort plates you’re after. The Roasted Meat Canelon with Parmesan Cream ($24) is a must too, all drenched in truffle; it’s one of Chef Alain’s exclusive recipes emulating his grandmother’s style of home-cooking.
Olivia’s mains highlight seafood in the most refreshing, decadent ways, particularly the Octopus, Crispy Pork Belly and Potato Foam ($35); and the Grilled Fresh Catch of the Day, turned into a hearty stew of tender fish cheek and roasted garlic. If you’re a devoted paella fan, find it completely reinvented in the Black Rice with Grilled Calamari ($30)—the stock is made from just the heads and bones of select fish, and a pinch of squid ink lends the plump grains its charcoal hue. It’s the breath of fresh air you never realised paella needed.
To finish, nothing else but Olivia’s Creamy Homemade Cheesecake ($14/$80)—a sinfully indulgent dessert that leans more savoury, thanks to the generous use of blue cheese.
The drinks: The stunning wines here play just as big a role as the food in appreciating Olivia. Curated by co-founder and former Michelin Sommelier Miquel Sabria, the wine list spans Spain to South Africa to New Zealand. Opt for wine pairing if you can, or request the Spanish Paco & Lola Albarino 2017 ($14.50 a glass), a light but deliciously fruity white that gets easier with every sip. Wines start from as low as $11 a glass and go up to $18.50 for champagne.
There’s also a full list of spirits and signature cocktails available at the bar, though we’re partial to the light strawberry notes of the Beautiful Melody ($18), which comes topped with a fun layer of foam.
Why you’ll be back: Adamant to prove commercialised Spanish dining wrong, Olivia teaches a masterclass in superior, authentic Barcelonan food; and it does so with fantastic wine.