This is a reaffirmation rather than a report. Restaurateur A.D. Singh's brainchild, helmed by Chef Manu Chandra, a long slow lunch at Olive Beach continues to be the top-draw for Bangaloreans on lazy Sunday afternoons. So. What's the same-old same-old?
Why, it's the Ladies who Lunch in Style, their Louboutins clacking on the paving stones of the restaurant, their grommeted It bags gleaming, their slickly lip-sticked mouths stretched in wide smiles as they spy friends across the place. It's the small groups of biz-men talking in lowered pitch, occasionally breaking out into deep-throated laughs. It's the Young and Restless, tucking into thin wedges of pizza and momentarily forgetting to appear blasé. It's the friendly and knowledgeable staff, all most solicitous in their attention.
What changes, however, are items on the menu. Chandra keeps the zing factor alive and kicking with discreet additions guaranteed to tickle the palate. He is all praise for Bangalore's dining denizens.
“They are constantly evolving when it comes to their culinary adventures,” he says sagely, permitting himself the smallest smile. Chandra, wunderkind of ‘progressive food' (no Continental or Mediterranean labels for him, thank you) is a serious grounded sort of bloke, for all the air- kissing that goes on at all his Olive outlets. But, then, the man has his finger firmly on the pulse of the eater and that is all that counts. He knows that … and after we sample just a couple of starters on the Sunday brunch menu, so do we!
Great food, good spot
If location is crucial to the success of an eatery, well, Olive Beach on Wood Street has what it takes. But Chandra, who has worked in some of the top restaurants in NYC and apprenticed with Michelin-starred chefs, goes one better: he melds great food with a good spot and, voila! He sits back and watches the bouquets come in.
Located in a quiet street (yes, one of the last in Bangalore) just off Richmond Road, Olive Beach - for the few who don't already know - sits in a charming old house and is done up in a lovely matte white that offsets the periwinkle blue spiral staircase, the old polished dumbwaiters and open cupboards most beautifully. And if you are scanning the horizon for signs of some sand, well, there is a thing as poetic license, you know. The music is soft, unobtrusive. Everything just so.
The place has garnered its share of plaudits and then some. Check this out: The Times Food Guide awarded Olive Beach the `Best Mediterranean Restaurant` in 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 and the Best Looking Restaurant in 2006 and `Restaurant with the Best Ambience` in 2008. Olive Beach has also won the Food Lover's Food Guide Awards for Best Mediterranean Restaurant and Restaurant of the Year 2008. Besides this, the eatery has been featured in Outlook magazine's Top 10 Restaurants as well as in renowned food critic Maryam Reshi's recent book 100 Iconic Restaurants in India.
Coming to the main event, the food is, in one word, delicious. There are live food stations set up all over the place: the Pasta Station, the Seafood Station, the Eggs Benedict station, the Desserts Station. Between my friend and I, we tasted a slew of brightly coloured martinis - passion fruit, mint, rose petal, basil - all the while nibbling on dolmas, some ambrosial fish, gnocchis with sauces, the soutzoukakia, beef meatballs in a fragrant tomato sauce topped with cumin and bruschetta, butter-tossed seasonal veggies.
We tried oysters and decided it was an acquired taste. Lamb chops done to medium rare perfection and lasagna was our choice for the main course, accompanied by orange shooters.
We followed it up with a dessert platter containing melt-in-the-mouth macaroons, freshly baked hot waffles, a deeply satisfying bitter chocolate and pear fudge gateaux, a light-as-air lemon chiffon cake, and generous helpings of a strawberries- in- coconut pudding. Food tip: the baby prawn and calamari pickle? To die for, I promise you.
At Rs. 2,000 (plus taxes), this is totally paisa vasool. Olive Beach is five years old and only getting better with age: Manu Chandra, take a bow.
Where it is: The Olive Beach, 16, Wood Street, Ashok Nagar, Bengaluru 560025.
Contact Details: Phone: 080-41128400; Fax: 080-41526690; Website: http://www.olivebarandkitchen.com/
Timings: Lunch from Noon to 3.00 p.m, Evening snacks from 3.00 to 7.00 p.m. and Dinner from 7.00 to 11.30 p.m.