Saturday night and it was date night. I had been looking forward to going out for a meal all week as it has been far too long since Mr MAC and I have been able to enjoy each other’s company on a night out.
We ummed and ahhed about where to go but finally decided on Les Olives after recommendations from a friend (who I do not hold responsible!) and excellent reviews on trip advisor. I was told it was very popular so booked a table a week in advance for 8pm.
When we got to the top of the stairs there were two other couples waiting to be seated all with reservations for 8pm. We were informed by the host that our table had not yet been vacated so there may be a few minutes wait. Fine. Not a problem. So we headed to the bar. After being ignored for five minutes or so we were able to order our drinks; I had a glass of the house white which was lovely, Mr MAC ordered a Jack Daniels and coke but received an amaretto and coke – luckily he enjoyed it!! Both very reasonably priced.
Waiting at the bar seemed like a good option but it soon became apparent that there isn’t much room in the restaurant as we were constantly having to move to let the slightly harassed looking waitresses through. There were two bar stools but sitting wouldn’t really have been an option.
At about 8:15pm we were told our table had been vacated and was almost ready. Great. Or it would have been if it wasn’t subsequently given away to a couple who just walked in off the street. So we waited some more whilst enviously eyeing up the food of the other couples who had reservations for 8pm and had already been seated and ordered!
Finally at 8:35pm our table was ready. I must admit we were both a little grumpy and very hungry by this stage. The host very kindly said the drinks we had whilst waiting were ‘on the house’ however, our first impressions of Les Olives were not good and this somewhat coloured our experience.
We sat at a nice table overlooking the chinese across the street. The candles on the table and window sill were a nice touch however and it did feel rather intimate despite the restaurant being so busy. Unfortunately I was sat in front of a door and had to move for the host to gain access which somewhat ruined the atmosphere.
We perused the very appealing menu – a wide selection of fish, meat and vegetarian dishes that, on face value, would seem to please most people and the prices were reasonable.
We ordered Alioli to start (bread with fresh garlic mayonnaise) and chose three dishes each to share as follows; Gambas Les Olives (Pan fried tiger prawns marinated with smoked and paprika and extra virgin olive oil), Lubina con Ensaladilla de Garbanzos (Grilled fresh fillet of sea bass marinated with chilli, cumin seeds and garlic on a bed of chickpeas, spring onions and coriander), Morcilla Les Olives (Spanish savoury sausage pan-fried with roasted piquillo peppers, broad beans, feta cheese, and caramelised onions), Cordero a la Plancha (Grilled lamb marinated with garlic, rosemary, extra virgin olive oil served with green chilli, coriander, cardamom, cumin seeds, lime chutney), Patas Bravas (Spicy sautéed potatoes in a rich tomato sauce), Pollo con Curcuma (Strips of marinated chicken in turmeric, garlic and tarragon pan-fried with spinach and red onions).
As the website states, the food is cooked fresh so it was after 9:15pm by the time we had any food. I was half way through a second glass of wine at this point so was not only ravenous but also a little bit tipsy which may have slightly impaired my judgement
After our complimentary olives, our food arrived. I must say, after reading the menu back today what is overwhelmingly apparent is the lack of flavour in the food – you couldn’t taste half of the spices, herbs etc that the menu claims are present. The prawns were nice and juicy although the flavour of the paprika wasnt there. Mr MAC was a bit put off that they still had the shell on….he is a bit of a wuss though! The sea bass was nice and cooked perfectly – probably my favourite dish of the evening; well either that or the bread and garlic mayo but that hardly counts! The lamb oddly tasted like beef, the patas bravas tasted of orange juice and although the chicken was nice it was again lacking in flavour from those much anticipated and documented ingredients from the menu. Mr MAC was a bit put off by the spanish sausage dish as he was expecting chorizo but instead it was similar to black pudding. All in all, I would say the food was average but it lacked a little something – quite possibly care and attention from the no doubt very busy chef.
The question is, have I had better tapas? If I’m honest, the answer would probably be yes. I can thoroughly recommend El Priata in Mayfair which is the best tapas I have tasted outside of Spain but that review will have to wait until a later date….! As I have heard so many fantastic things about Les Olives, I would like to give the restaurant another try; perhaps we just caught it on a bad night. We shall see.
Bill Total: £51.00
Marks out of 5: A very average 3