Set right in the middle of the city centre – a five minutes’ walk away from Raffles City, Den has been in operations since early November 2014. A cosy European style bistro by day, the restaurant transforms into a lively contemporary tapas and wine bar when the Sun recedes.
Den’s interior decor explores the theme of travel: there is an eye-catching painting of four cartoon characters which are depicted to be carrying their suitcases with them and various flight-related knick knacks scattered all around the walls.
Due to the fact that Den places a large emphasis on their alcoholic drinks, the restaurant bar has been allocated with a large amount of space within the compound – it steals the show once you step within Den.
Den Espresso ($20) – Patron café, bitter chocolate liqueur and caramel syrup. What could possibly make a shot of espresso better? Well, it seems like Den has figured it out: by making it into an alcoholic martini.
A stimulant and relaxant combined in one, this drink was slightly confusing at first sip but it definitely grows on you. Just a warning: if you’re not a big fan of saccharine alcoholic drinks, you might want to give this a go – this was just a tad too sweet for me. I still did manage to finish it though.
Watermelon Salad ($11) – Compressed watermelon, watermelon rind pickle, feta, mint, sunflower seeds, farro, mesclun. I’ve never been a big fan of salads but I really liked the Watermelon Salad from Den. Due to its compressed nature, the watermelon chunks were dense and I could literally see its sweet juices threatening to fight their way out.
Paired with the satisfying crunch of fresh vegetables and slight tanginess of feta cheese, the honey-like taste of watermelon pieces really shone through. If I ever had to choose to eat a salad for a meal, I’m pretty sure the Watermelon Salad at Den will be one of my top picks.
Truffle and Jamon Bikini ($15) – Jamon, truffle paste, vintage cheddar, caramelised onions. If I could only have one word to describe this, it could only be ‘heavenly’. Generously stuffed with truffle paste and cheesy goodness, its tantalising smell was already begging for me to sink my teeth into the slices when I was taking pictures. The crisp, golden-brown bread exterior almost sighs as it gives way to its gooey, aromatic and highly indulgent interior.
My one and only gripe with this would be that it can get pretty sickening and jelat after your third slice. Then again, who asked you to be greedy? Share!
Shortrib and Mash ($18) – Braised shortribs, mash, sauteed mushrooms, garlic bread crumbs. As a frequent consumer of instant mashed potatoes – you know, those you can get from 7/11? – this was possibly one of the best mashed potatoes I have ever eaten. Slightly grainy in texture, the cheesy taste of it complemented the meatiness of the sauteed mushrooms.
Don’t even get me started on the braised shortribs – after having been lovingly braised for 10 hours, they were tender and bursting with flavours. Not a single bit of this dish was left on the plate – it was simply too good.
Kahlua Coffee ($12). Of course, who stops at one drink? Fans of the Vietnamese black coffee will love this drink – it tastes exactly like that, just with a tinge of alcohol.
Beer and Blue Cheese Mussels ($18) – A dozen mussels, Asahi, roquefort, chervil, ciabatta. Beautifully plump and substantial in size, these mussels really stole the show for the night. Slurping one of these down into your throat gives you a little taste of what the big old sea has to offer.
The incorporation of the Asahi beer into the dish’s sauce was also executed perfectly: the slight bitterness of the alcohol only surfaces right in the middle of tasting but dies down quickly – a perfect pairing for the mussels.
If you can’t get enough of the addictive sauce, Den has also provided with three thick, buttered slices of ciabatta bread which you could use to get to more of it. Crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside, the bread was delectable even on its own.
Lemon and Olive Oil Cake ($8) – Basil oil, vanilla ice cream, white chocolate milk crumble. Nobody says no to desserts: even with a threatening, about-to-burst stomach, my eyes still lit up upon sight of Den’s Lemon and Olive Oil Cake. Crumbly and light, the cake was entirely finish-able. Not to mention, the lemon sauce of this dessert was extremely refreshing too – a perfect end to a hearty and somewhat sinful meal.
Overall, Den is a pretty awesome place to chill with friends after work hours – wholesome food with great drinks: there’s nothing better than that. My personal recommendation would be their Shortrib & Mash and Beer & Blue Cheese Mussels. Mmm, simply delicious. Just thinking about those now is making me salivate.
Expected Damage: $20 – $30 per pax