Wednesday 17 September 2014

Olive Bistro's New Menu

Olive Bistro in Cyber City, Gurgaon is a restaurant I really like. You will understand why by the end of this review. A while back I had visited on a Sunday afternoon for lunch. I had a steak, one of the most delicious steaks I’ve had in a very long time. In fact the only steak that could compete, is the one I had at Porterhaus, Saket. The hubby had a wood fired pizza and he was quite disappointed. So I was a little confused when we left. I had a great experience, the hubby on the other hand, not so good, and well dessert was a huge disappointment.

So when Ujjala Bhattacharjee Gupta of VTY invited me to come try out their new menu, I was excited to see what changes they had made, and if they had worked out a few of the kinks I felt existed. We visited on a Saturday afternoon and were welcomed warmly by Brajesh, the manager and chef Vikram Chanana. We sat in a quiet corner near the bar. Chef Vikram asked what we were interested in trying, and we put ourselves completely in his hands.

Mushroom Soup

We started out with some soup. Mushroom for the hubby and chicken and vegetable broth for me. We both absolutely loved the mushroom soup, it was rich, earthy and you could just taste a hint of the truffle oil that had been drizzled on top. As soups go, I was a little disappointed with the chicken soup. The pieces of chicken were a little rubbery and it tasted a little too generic.

Beetroot, goats cheese and arugula salad

Smoked chicken and mango

Next came some salads. The beetroot, goats cheese and arugula salad was divine! Thinly sliced pickled beetroot added just the right amount of tart to the rich, salty goats cheese and this was beautifully balanced with the peppery arugula, candied walnuts, orange and pieces of roasted beetroot. A beautifully balanced plate which I can’t wait to go back and enjoy all by myself! Being a non-vegetarian, I also got to try the smoked chicken and mango salad. Again, loved it! The delicately smoked slices of juicy chicken worked so well with the sweet and slightly tart slices of mango, the salty goodness of bacon (bacon makes everything delicious) and shavings of parmesan. A salad I would highly recommend on a hot afternoon.

Filo wrapped Brie cigars

Lamb meatballs in tomato sauce

If this was my last meal... I'd die happy :)

Next up, we tasted a plate of cheese cigars, which were Filo wrapped brie cheese, served with orange segments, almonds, saffron honey and mint. This again, was a beautifully balanced dish that the hubby, who is not a fan of cheese, quite enjoyed. I found it a bit too rich. Perhaps it was because I was enjoying something even better :) A plate of lamb meatballs in a spicy, tangy, garlicky tomato sauce, topped with Gruyere cheese. So yummy, but if I were to be very critical, I think the meatballs were slightly dry. You could ignore it because of the tasty sauce that more than made up for it, but had the meatballs been juicy and melt in the mouth, this dish would have gone from really good to totally amazing. Finally, and I saved the best starter for last, came the glazed pork ribs. I cannot begin to describe how good these were. I took a bite and looked at the hubby. He had a smile on his face, because he recognised the look on my face. It’s the look I get when I put a piece of meat in my mouth that is so delicious, that words are not needed. These ribs were melt-in-the-mouth, juicy, salty, sweet, tangy... perfect! If you eat pork then try them! By now we were both getting a little full and although I knew there was more food to come, there was no way in hell I was leaving even a morsel of ribs. In fact, had there been fewer people around, I would have shamelessly picked up the ribs and licked every last drop of glaze off the bones, the plate and my fingers too!

Asparagus risotto

Seafood risotto

Next came 2 plates of risotto, seafood risotto for me and the asparagus and green pea risotto for the hubby. To be honest, by this point, we were already getting a bit full, and I am not the biggest fan of risotto anyway. However, the flavours in the seafood risotto were good, the seafood was perfectly cooked and if you like risotto, then it’s definitely something worth trying.

Savoury goats cheese and caramelized red onion tart

 Getting to the mains, I had the comfit chicken with grilled vegetables and the hubby had a savoury tart. The tart was simply gorgeous... both to look at and to taste- perfectly thin, crisp pastry, rich cheese filling that went so well with the caramelised red onions and all balanced perfectly with a fresh, tomato and arugula salad and balsamic reduction. Classic flavours and simple ingredients treated with love.  When the plate arrived I said a silent ‘oh no!’ because the hubby hates cheese tarts and hates caramelised onions even more! But to my surprise he scoffed it down and went as far as to say it was delicious... hats off to Chef Vikram!

Comfit chicken and grilled vegetables

The comfit chicken was a little disappointing. The chicken was a tad overcooked and had started to get that powdery texture that overcooked chicken has, and there was something in the citrus salsa that was bitter. The tomato couscous was nice though. Also, it was difficult to compete with that amazing cheese and onion tart :)

We somehow managed to keep room for dessert. I was interested in dessert, because on our previous visit to Olive Bistro, I was very, very disappointed with their dessert. It’s rare that I leave dessert, and I did on that occasion. I had also heard a lot of other friends comment negatively about their dessert selection. So I was curious to see what improvements were made. I had also noticed that the selection of desserts on the menu had changed, which was nice to see. But the taste was paramount :) Chef Vikram suggested we try the coconut and white chocolate Panacotta and some waffles. The Panacotta arrived and as our server set it down on the table, we noticed it’s seductive wobble and we knew that it would be good. And it was! Again I’m not a fan of coconut panacotta, but this dessert changed my mind. It was light, had a perfect texture and just melted in my mouth- mango and coconut, such a winning combination. The waffles were disappointing and I conveyed this to chef Vikram. I think they need to look into the batter composition... the waffle was a little too dry and I could taste the bitter taste associated with too much raising agent (either baking soda, or baking powder). But I’m sure they will work this out.

Dessert! waffles and coconut and white chocolate panacotta with mangoes

Now at the start of this post I mentioned that I like Olive Bistro. This is why...two reasons really. Firstly, food is so closely linked to emotion. Good food gives me a warm, tingly feeling inside that makes me smile. This happens to me at Olive Bistro. There may be things on their menu that still need improving, which will always be the case for any restaurant, but overall, I am happy at the end of my meal. Secondly, I am always impressed with a restaurant that takes criticism and works on areas that need improvement. There is no doubt that they have put a lot of effort into improving areas of their menu, wherever concerns were raised.

In this review, have not commented on service here, because the staff knew we were there for a review. So rating their service wouldn’t be fair, but I do remember on my last visit that there were some issues with regards to service that they needed to work on. I had mentioned this in a review I had done on Zomato. Perhaps I will make another visit and see... any excuse to taste those fabulous pork ribs and the divine onion and goats cheese tart :)

To sum things up... I’m usually quite generous with praise, but the hubbster is very stingy with his. But this is what he had to say at the end of the meal, “Chef Vikram really understands flavour... I really liked how he used sweet, tangy, creamy and salty together in such an interesting way... with restraint and balance.” Hmm... and I’m supposed to be the reviewer... :)

Must try- all their salads, they have a nice selection of them and I loved the two we tried.

Things I’m still thinking about today and wishing I was eating- the glazed pork ribs, the savoury tart and the coconut and white chocolate panacotta.

[All images- Shalini Pereira. Please do not use without prior written permission]

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