This evening Rory and I decided to travel to Olive & Vine, a Mediterranean restaurant and tapas bar, located in Didsbury village. We almost went here at the beginning of our relationship, but due to a change of plans we never went. With a taste card offer that is hard to refuse (50% off food), we decided to venture out and enjoy what they had to offer.
The restaurant itself is rather spacious; a large dining area front and back, as well as a small area outside, and a live jazz band playing in the front. We decided to sit in the back. This was a good plan as it was much quieter but we could still hear the music being played.
The décor looked quite dated, the orange walls could really do with a fresh coat of paint and maybe a new colour choice, and the menu’s looked like they needed a re-print and laminating. On the décor note, the walls did have some beautifully painted pictures of the sea and I believe Greek islands. As well as several framed photos stating year and place, I assume from family holidays. These added a really personal and homely feel to the place and added a great deal of character.
The service was a little slow, but I got the feeling it was a very relaxed restaurant. The lady took us to our table and explained what was included in the taste card discount and what wasn’t. The specials were not included, nor were desserts or drinks, but as long as you ordered the full price meal (i.e. not the 6 mezze for £30 deal) and if you wanted a kebab, you ordered 2 and not 1, you will receive 50% off the bill. A really amazing deal … not sure how they make a profit!
After a heavy weekend of drinking, from being ‘Lost in Tokyo’ on Friday (wonderful bar in Northern Quarter), and then out in Stourbridge with my friend last night; alcohol should have been off the menu, should being the operative word. A great meal out does not always have to be accompanied by wine, or so I told Rory after ordering a large glass for myself (he offered to drive, rookie mistake). After studying the menu at length (so many options!), we decided to go for an array of food, from mezze’s to tapas and even a meaty kebab (or two).
After taking our order we sat back and waited eagerly for our food. After what felt like an age but really was only 15 minutes or so, our food began to come to the table. Having written this blog for some time now, anyone who reads my posts will know I am a big prawn fan. So of course I ordered gambas pil-pil and it was very good. Nothing-crazy special, just fresh prawns cooked in chilli oil. Next on the menu: patatas bravas. Although it is a very simple dish, it was done very well, and may be the best one I have eaten. The alioli sauce on top just finished the potatoes off, if anything I would have liked a little more of this.
|Gambas Pil-Pil – King prawns (peeled) flash fried with chilli oil. Hot! – £7.45|
|Patatas Bravas Alioli – potatoes sautéed in a spicy tomato salsa and drizzled with alioli – £5.75|
Next I tried the risotto and mozzarella bites, sadly this was very disappointing. Although it was edible, it lacked flavour and that zing of a tomato sauce. I felt a little disappointed, as I usually love this mezze. On the same plate, mainly due to space on the table (we ordered enough for 4 at least,) was hummus and pitta bread. I always forget how delicious hummus and pitta together is, ordering extra pitta breads was a great shout. The hummus was in a cute little bowl in oil with an olive on top, this was delicious; A very simple dish, but a staple on a Greek menu.
|(Left) Hummus – Chickpea mash, olive oil & garlic – £3.50 / (Right) Risotto & Mozzarella Bites – breaded and deep fried, served with Istanbuli – £3.50|
My favourite of the night came next, the chilli chicken kebab. Wow, this sauce really was the best. I know I often say how amazing things are, but this really was delicious. The sauce was zingy, spicy and had a great deal of flavour and a garlicky tang to it. Cooked perfectly and even went nicely mopped up by the extra pitta.
|Chicken Chilli pieces, pan-fried with chilli oil. Hot! – £6.95|
Next, we had Rory’s favourite of the night; the chicken kebab. The meat here was cooked perfectly; charcoal grilled and had that smoky BBQ flavour that is often missing in restaurant kebab sticks. The BBQ sauce on top was not as nice as the chilli sauce but still tasty. The chicken went very well with the peppers and onion from the kebab, and when I added the chilli chicken sauce, I created myself a match made in heaven. I could have eaten that again and again!
|2 chicken kebab skewers served with chips and bbq sauce – £12.95|
Lastly, what should have been in the top three, but sadly was over cooked and dry, the halloumi. Now I am new to halloumi, having my sister Claire to thank for introducing me to this wonderful goattastic* creation. I was hoping for a delicate taste of halloumi and sweet chilli. But sadly instead I got something quite dry, rubbery. It would have been better if it were cooked less, and were served with a sweet chilli jam. I was disappointed by this, but due to the large volume of food we ordered I got over it pretty rapidly.
|Halloumi – grilled Cypriot cheese with roasted red peppers & a sweet chilli sauce – £5.95|
I would highly recommend Olive & Vine, especially if you have a taste card; all of the above and a glass of wine and a diet coke came to £31.20! You really can’t get much better than that. So go enjoy, and let me know what you think.
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* New word, copyrighted by Chefwynd!