Feb 21, 2011

Restaurant Week: OLIVE BAR AND KITCHEN

Restaurant Week was on, and my friends and I decided that we needed to get together, and treat ourselves fancily. So we booked ourselves a table at Olive, and loosened our purse strings.

What: Olive Bar and Kitchen


Where: Mahalaxmi Race Course, near Gate No. 7


Cuisine: Continental, plus alcohol


Ambience: 
Elegant, classy, serene. The outdoors is nice, furnished in shades of white and off-white, candles on the table, a fountain and a beachy feel to it. There are two pretty ladies personally coming to your table, playing the guitar and singing, on some days. Everything has this air of quiet elegance and soft glamour, not a hoity toity five star and not even a random fine dining place.


Food:
I went through Restaurant Week and hence, the menu was a fixed three-course meal. We did not order anything a la carte, except a bottle of wine. There were three of us, so we could order three different things in every course.



The food is decent. It is tasty, and the salads are something to talk about. Even if it is just 'leaves', as my friends put it, they are still delicious, with the dressings. The Restaurant Week menu was not something grand or great - just a usual fare of an assortment of some continental dishes.

For the first course, we had a Caesar Salad, Wild Mushroom Borek and the Olive Oil poached Duck Breast Salad.

The Mushroom Borek was a crunchy puff pastry filled with mushroom and herbs. There was a green chutney dip with it which together tasted quite nice. The textures complimented each other well, and there was a depth of flavour too. Bit the crunch, to find a soft and creamy mushroom filling.

The Caesar salad we ordered was vegetarian and had a nice dressing to compliment it. The veggies were very very fresh, and that made it a pleasure to eat. Even though it was not much in terms of preparation, the fresh ingredients made up for it. The lettuce had just the right amount of crunch, and dressing, with nothing overpowering, and finding little salted capers amidst that jungle was an absolute delight.

The Olive Oil Poached Duck Breast Salad arrived, and the meat was camouflaged under the leafy green lettuce. The presentation left a lot to be desired, as it almost felt like the duck breast was attempting to engage us in a game of hide and seek, among the leaves. But once the salad touched the taste buds, it was an explosion of flavour. Dominated by the lemon vinaigrette, the leaves were crisp, and the orange and arugula added an interesting contrast to the flavours, with tangy, bitter and saccharine playing subtle games with the taste buds.

The best thing was the portions. They were really good for one person, and would fill someone with a good appetite. At the end of the course, we were already feeling a bit full.

Next came a watermelon sorbet as a palate cleanser. And it did the job quietly. The flavour was just about right, without dominating, or leaving a strong aftertaste in the mouth.


The main course followed. We first opted for the Seared Tenderloin Medallions, the Seared Basa Fillets and the Vegetable Pot pie, but we were then informed that the medallions were not available. So we substituted the Medallions for the Crumbled Sausage Green Peas and Cauliflower Risotto. and we chose a Vegetable Pot Pie, the Seared Basa Fillets, and the Risotto. The Pot Pie was honestly, quite ordinary, and not something I would come to a restaurant to eat. I expected more out of the vegetarian menu and was quite disappointed with the main course offerings. My thought was that if I am coming to a nice place, I'd like to try something new too, and not the usual Arrabiata or pot pie. The pie was creamy with diced vegetables and a crunchy pastry on the top. It was rich and hence, very filling. Yet there was something missing.


The Basa Fillet was delightful. The fish meat was succulent and tender, and did a good job of retaining the flavour of the marinade. The meat, though tender, was not quite melt-in-the-mouth quality. The glaze that the brown butter provided glinted in the candlelight, providing a bit of visual appeal, and also added a richer quality to the flavour. The seasonal vegetables that accompanied the fish added a contrasting crunch to the smooth texture of the fish. All in all, the dish was good, but not what one would call memorable.

We ordered all three desserts. I absolutely loved the cheesecake. The Affogato was nice too, and chocolate fans would quite like the pate. For me though, it got a bit overwhelming after a couple of bites and I could have no more. To be fair, it was nice and gooey in the centre, as it should be, and had the right texture.
We ordered a Sula Chenin Blanc, which was not too sweet, not too dry, and went well with the food.


Negatives:
The menu felt very limited for a vegetarian, and if the purpose of Restaurant week is to have people try out new places, then they should have at least attempted to have something new in their menus too. I am not talking about extravagant and expensive dishes, but I am talking about something a little more than just vegetables put together. The non-vegetarian section seemed sufficient on that count, though one item on the main course menu - the medallions, was not available. It was surprising that the management allowed that to happen, especially during restaurant week, as they should have expected a crowd which would probably be trying out Olive for the first time. Instances such as this definitely diminish the chances of a repeat visit.  


The wine list at Olive seemed limited too, as they did not have a dessert wine, when we asked for one. The Chenin Blanc was what was recommended to us, and it was good yes, but we preferred something sweeter.
The servers did have a knowledge of wines and food, that seemed useful for first-timers who do not know what to expect at Olive. Though, they could do with passing on the knowledge in a friendlier manner.


Positives:
The ambiance is quite nice and a good mix of casual and classy, comfy and sophisticated. We liked the outdoors better than the secluded interior space.
We were lucky to have live music on the day, with two young women moving from table to table with a guitar, singing songs on request. We even interacted with the two musicians and it was quite nice.


The outdoor area is really nice, and something rare in Mumbai, without any traffic noise or any other interruptions. It is a great setting for nice conversations.
The portions were very good, and I liked the first course the best. It set the bar high, but unfortunately, nothing else matched up to it.

The service was polite and prompt, and quite smooth too. Wine glasses were refilled quietly and the servers would ask how we liked everything.


In short:
It is a nice place to go once in a while, and spend some quiet, happy time with friends or family or your beloved. Children are not allowed, so it is nice if you want to go for a date too. It's better in the evenings, with the candlelights. Choose your meal well, with some wine, and you will have a good time. But a fair warning, don't go for the food, go for the ambiance and the experience. 


(With inputs by Mariette Valsan, esp for the non-vegetarian section.)

1 comment:

whirlwind said...

the ambience was what I would give maximum points for, and it was just perfect for three friends catching up after a long time! And of course, drool worthy writing Haem. :)