The simplicity of ingredients and the freshness of Mediterranean cuisine has always intrigued me. How fresh a vegetable or fish can appear on your palate, is something which keeps me going back to the exciting flavors which this cuisine has to offer. The food is simple, fresh and alive with flavors, with which you can never go heavy and dull. Olive Bar & Kitchen, New Delhi is one such place, which has to offer the similar medley of flavors with freshest of ingredients. Nestled between the bylanes of Qutub Minar and the greens of Delhi’s Ridge forest relaxes an ancient Mughal mansion, with a tall standing banyan tree and an open courtyard restaurant.
It transforms into an exotic meeting place for recipes from around the Mediterranean, which I got to experience few days back. Chef Sujan S. has created a new menu inspired from the seasonal and local produce and I was there to experience those exciting recipes which Chef has developed. It was a sunny day, so we preferred to be seated in the courtyard. All white painted walls and the sun peeking through the shades of a tall banyan tree had already made the afternoon pleasant and relaxed.
We started the meal with Wild mushroom tortellini, Stuffed morel and mushroom consommé. The broth was high on mushroom flavors and the tortellini was perfectly cooked, al dente. It was served with some parmesan crackers and freshly baked bread and some popovers. The popovers were amazingly light and airy.
Next came the wood oven roasted Pumpkin & Green bean Salad with Mascarpone labneh, quinoa and popped amaranth. I am not a big fan of pumpkin in salads or savory dishes, but this one completely blew me out. The roasted baby pumpkins had lovely aromatic hints of orange and the fluffier mascarpone labneh paired the green beans well. The popped amaranth and quinoa gave a lovely crunch to the salad.
Deep fried Brie and marinated beetroot with apricot pûrée and pine nuts was our next salad. Marinated beetroot had a kick of flavors and the pine nuts added the just perfect bite to the salad. Personally, I don’t like brie that much, so I gave it pass, but the beetroot kept the flavors simple yet amazing.
Another salad of red wine roasted plums and figs with rocket was something which completely bowled me over. Boy! it was a party of flavors in your mouth. Still dream about those complex sweet and sour flavors balanced with the peppery rocket leaves. Really definitive and potent flavors!
As palate cleanser and before we move on to main course, we were served a Cranberry sorbet with green apple caviar. The sorbet had perfect sweet and puckery flavor and the green apple caviar added to the pink blush beauty of the sorbet. A delish way to move on to next course!
Main course started with white reef code with ratatouille and red pepper emulsion served with truffle mash. The fish was flaky yet tender, perfectly cooked. Ratatouille was presented in kind of deconstructed way and flavors were just right. The truffle mash was mind blowing, dreamily light, fluffy and high on flavor. Chef told that they source the potatoes from Mumbai, which have slightly savory flavor to them.
Next came the Gnocchi with broccoli and blue cheese sauce cooked in a cast iron pan. The gnocchi was tender and not too heavy on palate and blue cheese added the depth of flavor. Next in main course was slow cooked pork belly served with carrot puree, maple glazed apple and a pork skin crackling. The pork belly had depth of flavors which probably have got in by slow cooking. Maple glazed apple and carrot puree mellowed the flavors, while crackling was super thin, light and perfectly crispy. Well balanced flavors and the beautiful presentation!
In the dessert menu, we got to taste tiramisu, strawberry mille feuille and petit four. Tiramisu had a nice kick of coffee and kahlua and was not overly sweet unlike many other places. It was just the way I like my tiramisu to be. Strawberry mille feuille had an interesting presentation. Instead of traditional way of layering, it came layered in a glass jar, with alternate layers of pastry cream, fruits and crunchy pastry. It was very light and kind of summary dessert, which was not too heavy on palate. Another favorite dessert of mine, but presented in an unconventional way. Petit four, a selection of four small servings of berries with honeycomb, butter cookies, chocolate bon bons and macaroons presented in a turquoise colored wooden box. A perfect and pleasing way to sum up the meal.
Clearly, Chef Sujan Sarkar’s way of presenting the flavors from around the Mediterranean is unconventional yet remarkably pleasing to both the eyes and palate. His focus on using the local produce and fresh ingredients and to make every meal a colorful experience for Olive’s patrons is worth mentioning. All in all, it was a fine dining experience in a more relaxed and serene ambiance, that is what Olive Bar & Kitchen are famous for! Am I going back again? Yes, definitely, whenever I want to unwind myself from the stressful week and want to enjoy some quality time with friends and family over some good food and relaxed surroundings.