Olive Beach didn’t shut shop. They just moved the iconic blue door a couple of feet to the right. They also decided to do away with the pebbles – because they obviously care for your stilettos. And they added a Tuscan Kitchen with a brick oven – just to indulge you with the perfect wood fired pizza. They placed large ornate mirrors that reflect the soft candle light – to make you glow as you dine under the stars. They even upped the ante on plating – pretty flower garnishes never hurt anyone. And the massive bar at the back – well, that’s kinda self-explanatory, right?
The little white villa on Wood Street comes to you in a spruced up avatar in its 10th year in Bangalore. They haven’t dispensed with the underlying theme of Olive – a large (sunny in the daytime) courtyard will still greet you as you enter and the whitewashed walls echo the charm of a Mediterranean villa. But…they’ve opened up the space – both literally and figuratively! The ‘new’ Mediterranean menu unfurls itself to embrace local ingredients and global influences.
Speaking of new, lucky number eight is your passcode at Olive Beach. ‘The Table For Eight’ offers you a private dining experience where the chef will customize an innovative, seasonal and fun menu for you. Add to it the sequestered round table with the Tuscan Kitchen forming a backdrop – and you have yourself an effortlessly chic evening!
‘Elegant and restrained’, ‘rich and forward’, ‘light and effortless’ or ‘brooding, grand and intense’ – you can let their classification of Wines set the tone for the night. Or if you’re like me, you can just giggle and let them pick a fabulous one for you and sit back and enjoy. You can always choose to have some cocktails, but with such an exhaustive and competitively priced wine list – I’d say take the plunge and order a glass …or a bottle.
Would I call the new menu avant garde? Probably not. I don’t think their intention is to reinvent for the sake of shock value. But you can’t deny that the additions to the menu are decidedly clever, in a cheeky-unassuming way – much like Manu himself 😛
Take the Chicken Liver Parfait – sure you can make the pate creamy and rich with butter and elevate it with cognac, but tell me it’s not clever to encase it in a grape gel? When you spoon some of that with fig compote and arugula on toast – you’ll know what I’m talking about. Or the Turkish inspired Tuna Tartar – fresh yellow fin tuna, served raw, tossed in chilli oil, preserved lemon, ginger, garlic and herbs. Smoked eggplant puree, pickled quail egg, potato crisps and tobiko complete the picture. You would think it’s too much really…for a tartare – but it works, and how! (Oh, the yellow fin tuna is from Lakshwadeep – there’s your dose of local!).
The Beef Carpaccio will probably be devoured before you can truly appreciate how perfectly pretty it looks on the plate. Dressed with Truffle oil, sea salt, crisp parmesan, fried capers, arugula and pea shoots – I can’t really downplay its attractiveness. However, I must reserve my affections for the Brie En Croute. So you take some Brie (check) and caramelized onions (double check) and orange marmalade (triple check) and you encase it in some perfectly turned out puff pastry (pure sorcery!). And then you make another innocent looking circle of prunes, orange segments, almonds and pineapple crisps but add some chilli-honey to it – just to keep it interesting!
They make a perfectly good Duck Confit and Pan roasted Tenderloin and they still have the “8 hour Lamb” (sourced from Bannur) on the menu. The lamb was unanimously declared faultless for its fall-off-the-bone deliciousness. But be brave and order the Coconut Milk and Prawn Risotto with Lemongrass or maybe even the Tuna Salad Pizza – which was surprisingly good. (Real brick oven remember…). Or the very interesting but ‘why didn’t I think of it already’ – Rigatoni with Goan Chorizo sausages!
It’s a little sick to be calling a trotter pie, a glazed pork belly and a bacon wrapped sausage patty the “Three Little Pigs”. It’s probably downright sadistic to be making a piggy face with puff pastry staring up at you from the plate. But of course such qualms need to be set aside while devouring this trio of pure joy. (Guilt is for the uninitiated!)
For the pescetarian, the Charmoula Sea Bass or the Crispy Skin Salmon will do the trick. The Salmon is served with grilled bok choy, shallots, bean cassoulet, red pepper puree and dill lemon sauce. You’ll see this effortless movement between Asian, Mediterranean and local flavours interspersed in the menu. And it makes you wonder why restaurants need to bucket good food into categories. Maybe we do it to set context to our dining experience – but blurring the boundaries offers so many interesting permutations and combinations.
Ordering their signature Snicker Bar, is a no brainer (They are on V3.0 now). You can’t go wrong with a chocolate, peanut butter and a praline combination. But presentation is key for a dessert (unless you’re dipping into a jar of Nutella) and their very talented pastry chef has nailed the art! You might be tempted to try the pimped up version of the Cassata. (The epitome of what Ice cream desserts strived to be in 1989!) Strawberry semifreddo, pistachios, olive oil cake and olive oil ice cream make a delightful throwback to the simple days. If you really want to indulge – order their Gourmet Hot Chocolate spiked with rum and brandy and served with moreish marshmallows. You will probably test positive on the Breathalyzer with this dessert drink, so I suggest cabbing it home!
Olive Beach, like a fine wine, has just gotten better with age. (Wait…I don’t know diddlysquat about fine wines!) Let’s try that again. Olive Beach, like George Clooney, has just gotten better with age. There. Now we’re all on the same page. They say genius peaks in middle age. Without revealing how old he is, I’d say Chef Manu Chandra is close…very close.
Picture Courtesy: Sanjay Ramachandran for Olive Beach, Bangalore. (I didn’t want to ruin the evening by whipping out my camera and having the flash ruin the mood lighting :P)
16, Wood Street, Ashok Nagar
Ph: +91 80 41128400/ +91 9945565483
Parking: Available || Cost: Dinner Menu – Rs.2200/- ++ for a meal for two without alcohol and Rs.1200/- ++ for the slightly different Lunch menu.