I had been hearing about Olive Beach for some time now so I was more than excited to finally be trying out their Sunday brunch. I first visited their website about 2 months ago when I was researching popular chefs in town because I am actually planning a series of articles on The Hot Chefs of Bangalore and Manu Chandra’s pops up everywhere on the net but he’s a difficult guy to pin down so unfortunately I haven’t been able to interview him yet.
Now I really have to admit that my expectations of Olive Beach were quite different from the realities of my experience at their Sunday brunch. Some good, some bad. So here we go, come experience three hours of fun with me!
The entrance to Olive Beach is lovely. Minimalist, striking and exactly what I expected. Huge massive, blue wooden double doors which a kindly uniformed gentlemen opens for each guest, offering up a big smile in the process. The doors opened and … BAM! I was transported into a very swish tropical white-washed beach spot, complete with bubbling brooks that run through the restaurant and white pebble pathways with white marble slabs throughout most of the venue to actually walk on for those us in our nicer shoes.
Now unfortunately one of the “things I liked least” starts here, has nothing to do with the food or service and, in fact, isn’t just my complaint…two other girlfriends there on Sunday also had the same complaint. Pebbles are like landmines when a woman is wearing high heeled shoes and unfortunately the restaurant hasn’t placed enough marble slabs over the pebbles to ensure that guests will never has to walk on the pebbles. One of my girlfriends was wearing stunning new shoes from a Singaporean designer that were basically ruined by the pebbles. I had on Prada’s and opted to tip-toe a bit like a dorky prancing pony at times in my effort to save the leather heels. Another girlfriend had on sturdier, flat sandals but by the end of brunch her shoes were fine but both the shoes and her feet were covered in white dust from the pebbles. I’m the first person to admit that I am prissy but I felt awful for my girlfriend and her new shoes and am not a fan of having to dress “down” or resort to wearing flip flops when in theory the venue is so lovely and upmarket.
Olive Beach does a great job with the ambience and music. When my friend and I first walked in, there was lovely music coming from two roaming guitarists who sang and played for the guests from one end of the restaurant to another. The guitarists play from 1pm-3:30pm, after that there was a fun mix of 70s rock and pop playing throughout. The manager also shared that there is a DJ from time to time. The musicians played a mix of modern and classic but mostly sing-a-long current music which was fun to hear. That was a lovely touch I hadn’t expected nor had I heard about.
What I also didn’t expect was to feel like I stepped into little expat world. Upon first glance, I couldn’t find a single Indian within eye sight. It was really strange. In the end there were tables of Indians once I walked further into the restaurant, which happily included a few Indian friends of mine. But it was an odd feeling at first to see so many (non-tourist) Bangalorean expats in one spot. It’s the first time I experienced that in a restaurant in Bangalore. Happily, I knew five of the guests there, so that was quite a welcome treat…two Indians, one Aussie, one Columbian and an American.
We were seated outdoors under the trees at a lovely table for two with cloth table linens and napkins. I started with sparkling wine and my friend with a virgin piña colada, both of which were delicious! It didn’t take us long to make our way to the chow for a preliminary bit on recon and then our first plate.
The brunch is composed of both buffet zones and three fresh stations:
- Fresh stations are setup for pasta, waffles or fresh seafood. Guests can have any combination of pasta and sauces sautéed with veg and non-veg ingredients and spices. I didn’t actually try the pasta but I bet they even serve “spicy” pasta since we are in India 🙂 The waffle station also had a variety of toppings. And the fresh seafood station served us up a platter with tender prawns and fresh calamari that was absolutely DIVINE. They also had oysters as well which looked quite nice but they were not setup in individual platters with tons of ice and lemon so I gave them a pass … but maybe next time. Next time I am also definitely trying out the waffles, I didn’t realize it was there until the end.
- The buffet zones include smoked meats like roast beef and salmon.
- There is an entire zone with a variety of fresh leafy salads that include a rucola/pomegranate/feta salad and a cured grape/arugula/balsamic and fresh bean salads and more.
- There are wonderful veg dishes, including our favourite which was the pickled mushrooms and Julienne sliced vegetables.
- The dips section was also a real treat! They prepare dips from the Mediterranean like hummus with pita crackers, pates, and our favourite, the beetroot and goats cheese dip.
- They also have a wonderful array of several international yummy cheeses ranging from Roquefort to chèvre to what I think was either Epi or what they called in Spain Teta de la Monja (Nun’s breast) which was our favourite cheese.
- In addition there is a soup bar and several hot main entrees. Hot dishes included Moroccan tagines, greek spiced beef and a yummy rice pilaf.
- There are countless fresh breads, some stuffed with pesto or drizzled with sea salt or baked with a multitude of grains and nuts. Our favourite is the rosemary and sea salt rolls, which were really tasty!
Now, I realize this might be boring for some but I could have gorged myself for hours on the leafy salads, eaten all of the cheese very happily at Olive Beach…and then still had room for the sweet yummy desserts because I am coo coo for sweets and their pastry chef Tanmoy is a God. So I was happy as a clam to enjoy a wide variety of his amazing desserts. They prepare Italian panettone pudding, a delicious chocolate/poppy-seed/gateaux, brownies with a dollop of mouse atop them, fresh fruit …and my all-time favourite dessert and my new heart-felt craving (I think about them every day!)…the fresh macaroons prepared by the pastry chef.
During brunch I interviewed a few of the “regulars” and asked about the high percentage expats on the scene and every single one said that this was not the norm but an aberration. Nor were the loud, belligerent party-goers who polluted the music towards the end with shouts of hoots as they did shots and popped bottle after bottle of sparkling wine. Turns out that there was a going away party going on with about 30 people and to be fair it really was just one woman in the group that continued to howl and yell and spoiled the ambience but it was something that I think the management should have tried to control a bit better. I was told that even her own group tried to silence her but she didn’t care, which was really an embarrassment for them. My friend and I ended up moving inside for our last 20-30 minutes in order to enjoy our time in peace. After that we could hear the music better and couldn’t hear the screamer at all 🙂
A couple of people also mentioned that it was nice that Olive Beach isn’t “kid friendly” … which is a real plus in my book as well. There are very few restaurants in town that don’t cater to kids so this point scores big points.
If you go do try the prawns, the salads and the macaroons. Olive Beach is a super place to go with friends to really enjoy the perfect combination of upmarket food + friendly environment + cocktails.
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/olivebeach
Coo Coo for Cheese 5-star rating: 4*
What I liked best: Massive variety of delicious fresh leaf salads, prepared in-the-moment prawns and calamari, the beetroot and goats cheese dip, the mushrooms and my absolute favourite was the freshly made macaroons (I think I actually fell in love with the pastry chef over those cookies!)
What I liked least: having to walk on pebbles in high heels, the stuffed courgette/zucchini, eggs benedict, drunk/loud patrons at the end of the afternoon
Cost: Rs. 2,000 (+ tax) all inclusive, with sparkling wine or any cocktail or mocktail flowing freely
(reviewer Angela Carson)