Olive Tree Brasserie, Preston

It seems like a lot of times I go out for food in Preston these days is because I am off to the theatre, because I am dead classy like that. On Sunday I went with Sara to see The Sons of Pitches, winners of the BBC’s Naked Choir at the Preston Guild Hall. So before an evening of a capella, we required something aca-awesome to eat! (I know, I said aca-awasome, can you aca-believe it!?)

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Just around the corner from the Guild Hall in Preston is the Olive Tree Brasserie, it’s been open a while now, however my first visit left me less than impressed. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t great. I took pictures but I found it hard to write about something that was just… ok. It never makes for interesting writing or reading, so I just deleted the pictures and forgot about it.

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However when it came to looking for somewhere to go for pre-theatre food, an £11.50 for 2 courses/£13.50 for 3 courses early diner menu seemed like a good chance to take. I’m glad we did!

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After a bit of confusion as to whether they were serving the early diner menu at first, but that was soon rectified and food and drinks were ordered. In my never ending mission to try as many different beers as possible to get ALLOFTHEBADGES on Untappd I went for Fix Hellas, it was an acceptable lager, however I do wish I’d gone for a cocktail like Sara with her Gingerbread Manhattan… which only took me 24 hours to get the joke. Yeah, not until the following day when I was showing the photos to my friend and I mentioned Sara’s Gingerbread Manhattan did I get the joke, Gingerbread Manhattan. I am an idiot.

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For starters Sara had Keftedes, pork and beef meatballs in a rich tomato sauce. In a half hearted attempt to join the ranks of ridiculousness of We Want Plates, the bowl of meatballs arrived on a miniature pallet, no idea why but restaurateurs are wont to do such strange things.

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I went for the stock vegetarian starter of a Goats Cheese Salad, which came with couscous and dukkah. As an omnivore, I love getting order goats cheese, but vegetarians are sick of goats cheese salads. I’m not, though. Lets start with some criticism, the “dukkah” didn’t appear to be the mix of herbs, nuts and spices that I would expect, and just seemed to be a mix of cumin, cumin and cumin, which was a touch overpowering. On the positives, the couscous wasn’t too dry, as it can often be, and the caraway seeds added a pleasing pop of aniseed to the mix, I had to eat my way around the dried apricot, though. I hate the stuff, but that’s entirely personal.

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The best part of this, however was the brûlée-ing on goats cheese, which took one of my favourite ingredients from being really nice, to being crazy delicious. I need this in my life on at least a weekly basis.

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Onto mains, and Sara went for the Kota Souvlaki, a chicken kebab consisting of generous chunks of chicken, marinated in paprika, oregano and olive oil until the flavours of the Mediterranean permeated through to the centre, with properly crisp and well seasoned sweet potato fries. On the side was a little pot of tzatziki and a side salad with a most excellent dressing (more on that later).

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For my main I had Choirino, a properly massive pork chop with a feta and shallot potato cake, tzatziki and Greek salad. When I say a properly massive pork chop, I’m not lying! It was very thick and juicy throughout. When I previously blogged about a Greek meal at Go Greek in Layton, I complained about the old school British side salad, but no such problems here with a proper greek salad with mixed leaves, tomato, olives, cucumber and salty feta with the most fabulous salad dressing that could make even an odour eater insole delicious. The feta and shallot potato cake was a bit of a non-event, with no discernible hint of feta or shallots, and just tasted like a fairly uninspiring pomme boulangère, though this didn’t bother me as I’d ordered one of my favourite side dishes, the one thing from my previous visit that didn’t leave me feeling flat.

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The Kolokithakia Fries are fantastic, batons of courgette fried in a light crispy batter. Courgettes are green and good for you, batter is golden brown and bad for you, so these aren’t quite health food, but using science, I’ve at least proven they’re not unhealthy, either. SCIENCE!

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We didn’t bother with desserts, as Sara is lactose intolerant and I didn’t really fancy Greek yoghurt with honey or fruit compote (which is breakfast food, anyway) or ice cream, which is just kinda boring, but for the very generous portions of very good food we got, at £11.50 each we couldn’t complain and this will definitely be somewhere I’ll visit again for pre-theatre food from the early diner menu, and maybe some time I will spoil myself and order from the rather more expensive a la carte menu (mains start at £14.50 for the Kota Souvlaki and go up to £24.95 for a fillet steak) if it’s a special occasion!

Lastly, go see The Sons of Pitches, they were brilliant at Preston Guild Hall!

 

 

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