One of my favourite cuisines ever has to be Greek. There’s just something exciting about the bright coloured veggies, the generous use of olive oil, and the abundance of feta cheese. Here up North, we can sometimes miss out on the authentic flavours of non-English cuisines; they tend to foster in the likes of London, the heart of diversity and culture in the United Kingdom. However, of fairly recently, a little place called Olive Tree Brasserie has popped up in the Tudor rows of Watergate Street which shares the same passion for authentic Greek food as our southern friends, and I was lucky enough to try out the new summer menu earlier last week!
Inspired by the wonderful flavours of the Mediterranean, Olive Tree Brasserie has introduced a modernised twist on Greek food into the streets of Chester, adding to the diverse culture the food scene in Chester seems to be achieving. However, this place is more than just food; it’s an experience. On visiting, I was warmly greeted at the door into the sophisticated bar area, before being led to a window seat. In the centre of the restaurant, lives a huge olive tree decorated with little lights whilst chilled music plays in the background setting the scene for a relaxed, yet classy night.
After scanning the menu, it was very obvious that this is a place dedicated to creating high quality dishes that ooze authentic Greek taste in modernised combinations. All the food is locally sourced, with a few exceptions coming directly from Greece itself – I mean, what could be more Greek than Greek ingredients?! At the top of the menu there is a mini Greek translator helping you to decipher the unfamiliar words woven into this exciting menu. But before I move you onto food, you’ll want your drink first! There is an extensive range of Greek beers and wines to choose from to get you started; or, if you feel like matching your drink to your surroundings, there are some very tempting cocktails to get you in the mood. After all, nothing quite says Greek summer like a colourful cocktail! What’s even better is that this particular restaurant stocks a rare Greek spirit, Mastiha, found only in the southern part of the Greek island, Chios; so even your cocktail will have an authentic feel.
But now onto the main event, which for any evening out, (at least for me), is the food! The starters list is rather simple. Take for example Falafal – chickpea fritters with houmous, or Halloumi Pastourma – chargrilled halloumi, herb and spiced cured pork sausage with Olive Tree balsamic dressing…However, the flavours you experience are anything but simple. I enjoyed Olive Tree Brasserie’s version of the traditional favourite, Spanakopita – translation: filo pastry filled with spinach, leeks, fresh herbs, feta and halloumi cheese and the Greek favourite, tzatziki! Accompanied by a little salad, this was the perfect introduction into what was to follow. Light and flavoursome with creamy and flaky alternative layers; it was just enough to tease my taste buds before I recieved my second course. However, if pastry isn’t your go to, then there’s plenty more to choose from – including smaller nibbles of Greek garlic bread, a mixed dipped platter, and olives – to name a few! The starter list is filled with meat or fish dishes, and veggie ones too, so you’re sure to find something that tickles the fancy! Nothing is over the top – it’s just beautiful presentations of fantastic flavour combinations.
Stepping out of my Greek food comfort zone…
After scoffing my starter down in record time due to sheer excitement, I was certainly looking forward for the rest of the evening, However as I waited for my main, I questioned whether or not I had made the right decision. You see, while it’s good to provide such tempting options – it does leave one worrying that they may have missed out on something else…! Olive oil soaked meat and fish scream the Mediterranean so I knew I was definitely opting for one of the other. But which one? You see, the food I most associate with Greek food is souvlakis – or as we like to call them, chargrilled skewers of meat or vegetables. For me a lamb souvlakis or as the Olive Tree Brasserie has named this particular dish, ‘Arni’, would be my typical go-to for Greek food – and here, they certainly sounded appetising. Each souvlaki is garnished with a Greek side salad, finished with either herbed rice or seasoned chips, and (of course) tzatziki. However, after much debate, I decided that I’d change things up a little and opt for a very Greek, but very unusual personal choice of a fish dish, or Lavraki – which translates almost all in English to pan fried fillets of sea bass, feta potato cake, parsnip skordalia, kolokithakia fries. Kolokithakia is courgette but they weren’t just the vegetable, they were almost deep fried in a light crumb which made them irresistible! And the not so English word, skordalia is a garlic and parsnip dip which acted as a velvety bed for the beautifully cooked fillets of fish. Oh and I also ordered a side of halloumi fries, because why wouldn’t you? I’ve had these in the past from elsewhere and counted 4-5 fries per portion. At Olive Tree Brasserie, however, you get your money’s worth – and they taste unbelievable – a rubbery texture (in the best kind of way) with a salty finish! So I stepped out of my Greek food comfort zone for my main but was certainly rewarded! It was like a high class meal, with the authentic taste of the Mediterranean in a sophisticated, yet relaxed environment – all at a reasonable price!
The Best Baklava!
Totally and utterly satisfied with what had gone before, I couldn’t resist having a sneak peek at the desert menu, you know, just in case! And that’s when the infamous Baklava caught my eye, winning me over with crushed pistachios and accompanied with pistachio ice cream – my idea of actual heaven! This wasn’t just good, this was sensational. In fact, I could have ate it twice over it was that good. It was rich, with perfect, slightly crispy, filo pastry layers, with a sweetness balanced out with the pistachios and then perfectly moistened with the ice cream. I don’t really have much more to say other than go and try it yourself!
Finally, I finished a very lovely evening, with a very lovely coffee. The perfect little finisher to the perfect little evening. The service throughout the night was exceptional, the waiting staff were attentive and knowledgeable, and the food was like nothing else I have tried before in Chester. This is a great location for a romantic meal, a catch up with friends, or even a post-race day this summer! I will certainly be returning to what is now one of my favourite places in Chester. Olive Tree Brasserie has brought the Modern Greek food into the North West with a success!
For more information follow @Olivetbchster on twitter and Instagram, or go to their website for a full menu and details – https://olivetreebrasserie.co.uk/