Olive Tree Brasserie is one of my favourite Preston restaurants, so when I was invited to sample their new summer menu I naturally said Naί.Advertisement
That’s not me trying to say No in a fancy way. Olive Tree Brasserie serves modern Greek food, and – according to Google Translate – Naί is Greek for Yes.
This is how I find myself out on the town on a surprisingly busy Monday night in Preston. The number of people around Fishergate makes sense when the Olive Tree’s manager explains it’s graduation week and one of their busiest times of the year. We’re warned the food may take a little while to come, as dishes are prepared on site and cooked to order.
My companion and I begin our evening with drinks. I make the most of my status as non-designated driver and order a Mastiha Mojito. Priced at £7.95, this is a traditional cocktail with a twist. Instead of the usual rum base, it’s made with the rare and sweet Greek liqueur Mastiha, which comes from the mastic tree in the island of Chios. I can’t vouch for Mastiha’s rarity, but I can confirm that it is very sweet and very tasty.
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Starters are the Tiganista (£5.95) for me and Keftedes (£6.95) for my companion. The Tiganista is a vegan dish of Greek pancake topped with a flat garlic mushroom, caramelised red onion, and a sweet balsamic dressing.
On first taste I exclaim how delicious it is, however I’m not normally one for mixing sweet and savoury, and about halfway in I do start to wonder if it’s working for me. But while my brain might not have caught up with the idea of mushrooms in a sweet sauce, there’s no denying my tastebuds are all over it.
Meanwhile my companion enjoys his (definitely not vegan) Keftedes – beef and pork meatballs in a rich herby tomato sauce.
The portions are generous and I could probably stop eating here. But with a potential two further courses of food this delicious, I instead loosen my belt and tighten my can do attitude.
For my main course I choose Kolokythia Stifado, which is priced at £12.95. It’s a vegan stew of roast butternut squash, mushroom and pistachio, served with Greek style roast potatoes. It’s hot, tasty, and the textures of the various veg and nuts are divine.
Over at the carnivore’s side of the table, the Kota dish is being devoured. This is a skewer of chargrilled chicken marinated in paprika, oregano and olive oil. It’s served with salad, tzatziki and a choice of rice or chips.
My companion has chips and, as I’m a chip aficionado, I insist on sampling a couple. They’re a good size and consistency, but there’s probably too much seasoning on them for my liking. However my companion’s verdict on his meal is “reight tasty”, although maybe a tad overpriced at £14.95.
By this point I am seriously full, but with a vegan dessert on the menu, I feel it is my duty to forge ahead to the third course.
I loosen my belt further and surreptitiously ease open the top button of my trousers before tucking into the Milopita (£5.95). It’s another taste sensation. While it’s described as an apple pie, there isn’t much pie going on. It’s more a mixture of apple, cinnamon, walnuts and sultanas piled on a light pastry base, with another thin layer of pastry resting above. It’s served with vegan ice cream.
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By this point I’m full to busting and in need of a lie down, but my companion is enjoying his Americano (£2.50) from a beautiful earthenware cup and saucer, so I try to act cool and comfortable while enjoying the atmosphere. The decor, lighting and acoustics all appeal to me.
As we finally leave and I waddle out of the restaurant, our sweetly earnest waiter bids us good night. He is an example of the sense of pride to be found in everything Olive Tree Brasserie does. They source their fresh produce locally, and apparently invest in innovation by regularly travelling to Greece to source inspiration for their bold flavours. The staff are all very attentive, and genuinely care about doing a good job.
Will I be returning to Olive Tree Brasserie? It’s a little on the pricey side, so it’s the kind of place I’d either visit for the Prix Fixe or save for a special occasion… but it’s a definite Naί from me.