[Invited Tasting]: The DEN + The Entertainer App

Have you heard of The DEN? It’s a European-style bistro by day and a tapas cum bar at night. They are a revamp of Bartini Kitchen, located at Boon Tat Street.

Now, even though this was an invited tasting, I want to assure you that as always, all opinions are my own, and I’m here to give you an honest review of their food.

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The DEN is one of the restaurants offering the 1-for-1 deals which can be redeemed through the Entertainer app. But more on that later.

Let’s talk about the food that we tried!

We were given the pleasure of sampling various food items from their lunch and dinner menu.

(Pardon my photos, dim bar lighting isn’t exactly the ideal setting for photo taking)

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We started off with some salads to sample. There are the nicest photos of the lot, since we managed to take them under nice white light.

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Zucchini Veggie Dish (Dinner) $8
Lemon zest, soy caviar, parmesan, toasted cashew nuts

Why hold off the best for last? My ultimate favourite dish was this light salad. The zucchini was fresh and crunchy, with a slight Parmesan taste, and a nice sour kick from the lemon zest. It was a great way to start the meal.

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Textures are very important to me, and I like how the softness of the zucchini paired with the crunchy cashew nuts and the bursts of flavour from the soy caviar. A simple but well executed dish.

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Watermelon Salad (Lunch) $10
Watermelon Rind Pickle, Feta, Mint, Sunflower seeds, farro, mesclun.

I’m not too sure what a watermelon rind pickle is… but the watermelon was fresh and juicy. I couldn’t taste the feta as there was only a small sprinkling. The sunflower seeds were soft, and actually tasted more like brown rice/barley pearls to me.. maybe they substituted it for the evening? Nonetheless, the chewiness balanced the crisp watermelon nicely.

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Here’s another view of the watermelon salad! Just like a typical salad, the ingredients are just piled atop a fresh bed of mesclun veggies.

IMG_5615Beetroot Salad (Lunch) $10
Walnuts, Mesclun, Oranges, Quinoa, Rocket, Beetroot

I liked this salad too! The candied walnuts added a nice crunch and sweetness. The beetroot was finely diced and sweet as well. Matched with crunchy quinoa, it was quite a flavourful combination. However, the flavours were generally milder than the other two, not that it is a bad thing.

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Lotus Root Chips (Dinner) $7

Here, we have a modern take on our beloved lotus root. I love lotus root soup, so seeing it in this form was something new to me. The lotus root chips were well-fried, and remained crisp and light.

They paired nicely with the slightly bitter cauliflower dip (which dip not taste like cauliflower at all). However, my only gripe is that it was a tad too oily, and my fingers were stained in oil. I guess that may be unavoidable when it comes to deep frying?

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Seafood Mafalda Pasta (Lunch) $13
Fish, squid, prawns, tomato&cream sauce, yuzu dressed rocket salad, fettucine

This was alright. There was not enough sauce to coat the pasta, hence the taste wasn’t very strong. Kudos to them as the pasta al dente. And the squid was well-cooked.

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The yuzu dressed rocket salad was a nice contrast to an otherwise heavy pasta dish.

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Truffle and Parma Bikini (Dinner) $15
Parma ham, truffle paste, vintage cheddar, parmesan

Let’s bring on the truffles! Honestly, I don’t know why so many people love truffle. It smells like diesel to me (heh, don’t be hatin’)

Anyway, if you like truffle, you’ll like this, as the truffle taste was very very strong. The toast was crispy and the cheese was gooey.

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It was an interesting started since they managed to make a simple sandwich look rather presentable. But it was too oily once again, maybe they overdid it with the truffle oil or the oil they used to pan fry the toast.

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I couldn’t really taste the parma ham as the truffle was too overpowering. So perhaps they could reduce the truffle or just omit the parma ham.

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Truffle Bacon Mushroom Pizza (Dinner) $18
Bacon and garlic béchamel, shiitake mushrooms and truffle

Woopee. More truffle! Haha. It was cold by the time I got to it so it was rather tough. Once again, like the truffle toast, it was oily. (Hold back on the truffle oil maybe?)  It was just okay to me. I liked the thin crust though, and it would probably have taste much better if it was fresh out of the oven.

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The crust was so thin, almost as thin as a tortilla! Which made it perfect for a starter since it wouldn’t expand in our tummies.
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Pigs In A Blanket (Dinner) $10
Spicy Italian sausages wrapped in bacon, double mustard.

There was a really strong herb taste in the sausage, possibly mint or parsley, which wasn’t very tasty to me. The concept was good though, and coated in the mustard, you can hide the taste of the herbs.

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They did attempt at plating though, so I’ll give it to them. Oh dear, I just realised how sadistic the name is. The ‘pigs’ are in a blanket made out of themselves (bacon). That’s so sad… 😦

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Truffle Mac and Cheese (Lunch) $12
Truffle, Cheddar cheese, Mozzarella cheese, Gouda, Mushrooms, Diced Spicy Italian Sausage (Vegetarian option available)

Surprise surprise, more truffle! There was just a truffle blob in the middle though, which didn’t make much sense in terms of aesthetics and taste… The Mac and Cheese was well…Cheesy.

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It was literally bright yellow inside. I’m not sure if the bright yellow comes from good quality cheese… but it reminds me of the colour of nacho cheese, although it didn’t taste like nacho cheese.

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There were bits of sausage inside, which seemed to have some truffle oil. Despite not being a mac&cheese person, I must admit, the pasta was nice.

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Each macaroni was oozing/bursting with cheese!! I mean just look at that.

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Okay, just one last photo, since the lighting was pretty good here. Haha. Say Cheeseeeee. (One person wouldn’t be able to finish this alone though, you’ll get so sick of the cheesy richness)

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Grilled Squid (Dinner) $15
Chilli, garlic, anchovy, kaffir lime leaf

There was that strong herb taste again, which I’m attributing to the kaffir lime leaf. Even though it doesn’t look that great, the squid was well cooked but I felt the seasoning could be better. (Note: Better not stronger.)

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Perhaps instead of kaffir lime, more spice could be used.

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Pork Belly (Dinner) $18
48-hour slow-cooked pork belly, apple kimchi, stewed granny apples

The stewed apples were nice. They tasted like apple pie. The pork belly looked fried, rather than slow-cooked for 48 hours. I didn’t try it though, cause I have an aversion to pork belly, and any other edible organs. I tried the ‘apple kimchi’ which just tasted like fresh apples. But I think it was quite smart to add them, since it gives the rich dish some tartness.

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I heard another blogger commenting that it was too oily, but I can’t vouch for that since I didn’t try it.

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Den Wings (Dinner) $10
Spicy in house marinade, BBQ dip

THIS was great! It was hot and crispy. Coated with BBQ sauce which taste a little bit like sweet chili.

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It was very well done, and the skin remained crispy despite being covered in sauce. It was good. I definitely recommend this along with the zucchini salad.

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Apple Crumble (Dinner) $8
Apples stewed in Muscovado sugar, brandied currants and vanilla bean ice cream

They used the same apples that were served with pork belly. Hmm, smart way to save prep time… But I feel kind of cheated. Anyway, this dessert was just okay. Your run-of-the-mill apple crumble.

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Brownie (Dinner) $8
Bourbon bacon brownie soil, candied bacon, vanilla bean ice cream

There’s a funny story here. When I tried a mouthful, it tasted like bakkwa. Which is barbecued pork. It was very chewy and even had the fibrous taste of bakkwa. I commented that this was a really really strange taste for a brownie to have. My friend even said it smells like henna. But…

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Then we realised, that it was actually candied bacon. Hahahaha. So the ‘bakkwa” was candied bacon and not the brownie that I thought.

Sadly I can’t comment on the brownie, cause I thought the mouthful I ate was the strange meat-tasting brownie.

And… to end off nicely, here’s a photo of my foodie friend and I 😀
(Haha, check out my Wonderwoman EZLink card on my lap)

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Well that concludes my review on the DEN!

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I know loads of people love truffle, but i think they could go easier on the truffles. I think my tastebuds were so coated in truffle oil midway, that I could barely taste or smell anything else apart from truffles. I probably left smelling like truffles. (I know some people wouldn’t mind haha) And while there were some hits and misses, there is potential, and with some tweaks, their food would be pretty decent for a tapas bar!

They had good service though, so brownie points for that 🙂

The Entertainer App:
Now back to the app I mentioned earlier,

The Entertainer offers more than 800 Buy One Get One Free offers for Singapore’s hottest restaurants, bars, informal dining, spas, activities, attractions and more. This year’s product includes the Entertainer Travel 2015, which features over 250 free night offers at leading 4 and 5* hotels across Asia and beyond.

The Entertainer Singapore app retails at S$75 but get it right now at the early bird price of S$60. The Entertainer Singapore book, which contains the same coupons in paper format, is now priced at S$75 (usual price S$80) and is also available for purchase at http://www.theentertainerasia.com or selected bookstores.

The app is really easy to use:
1) The offers are listed by location, so it’s easy for you to find great deals nearby

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2) Just select the offer you want (Let’s use Ben and Jerry’s as an example, since I love Ben and Jerry’s)

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3) Click on the offer and key in your PIN! The staff will do the same on their side, and your redemption will be processed! (All done at the outlet before you pay)

Easy no?

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So enough with the words, let’s get down to business. Just go on ahead and download the app while it’s on sale.

You know what? I have an even better deal for you…
Key in the discount code “2015ALVIN” to enjoy another 10% discount. (Yes I know we’re all cheapskates at heart)

Many thanks to the Entertainer for inviting me to this event, and to DEN for hosting us with the lovely contemporary European comfort food and drinks.

DEN
29 Boon Tat Street
Singapore 069624

Tel: 6220 0629
www.den.com.sg
facebook.com/den.singapore
instagram @den.sg


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