Olive Tree Brasserie Preston, set within the handsome Miller Arcade, is the city’s only Greek restaurant and thankfully didn’t fall prey to cliché emulsion white ruins and checked tablecloths. The Olive Tree Brasserie’s interior was in fact rather industrial, with exposed metal strip lighting, sharp corners and an attractive polished finish. The contrast between the contemporary interior and Victorian exterior created a sophisticated atmosphere which the area cries out for.
Upon arrival at Olive Tree Brasserie Preston, my party was warmly greeted, and shown to the table through a surprisingly busy dining room. Once seated I was majestically bathed in the green neon of the adjacent Subway; you may want to be savvy and select your preferred table in advance. Never one to resist a bargain, I ordered from the Olive Tree Brasserie Preston Early Diner Menu, offering three courses for just £13.50. Although very restricting, it was only to be expected from such a sharp price, and available until a reasonable 7:00 pm (6:45 pm on Friday and Saturday).
Some olives and related nibbles were promptly ordered and arrived very quickly, with the young floor staff continuing to work efficiently throughout the evening. Despite just opening, service at The Olive Tree Brasserie Preston was well organised and polite.
For starters, everyone chose the Dolmades which arrived on miniature pallets for no discernible reason. These three rolled vine leaves, stuffed with rice and minced beef, were the perfect sized starter. They were fresh, delicious but very salty. The extra lemon-dill-cream sauce was pleasingly light and perfectly balanced. Incidentally, their own brand mint-balsamic dressing had an incredible depth of flavour and was liberally applied to everything. A Sauvignon Blanc washed this down with a decent smack of Gooseberry but shrivelled my tongue with brutal tartness.
For mains, the Lavraki sounded intriguing. It was Sea Bass “Spetse Style” – a style not even Google knew about. It arrived looking like it lost a punch up en route to the table. The fish itself was perfectly cooked, with a very salty but at least flavoursome crust. The accompanying Kolokithakia (courgette fritters) were the best thing on the plate. They made for an exciting Mediterranean alternative to chips, which in my head seemed healthier. The sexy Mediterranean cousin of the British mushy peas were the stewed capers, but the last thing salty fish and saltier vegetables needed was the world’s saltiest foodstuff showing off. They were unpalatably bitter and left on the plate. The wine was swapped to Pinot Grigio; overlooking the warm glass, the humble house white had a mineral crispness and was perfectly drinkable.
Friends had the Fishcake & Seasoned Chips and wished they hadn’t. Arriving on a spare cheese board, it was impossible to cut without scattering the contents around the table. The overall flavour of the fishcake was potato rather than fish and equally lacked seasoning. Moving on, the Kota Skordata was a chicken skewer on rice, with dip and a side salad. The meat was nicely marinated, well grilled and succulent. No complaints, but it couldn’t justify its full £13.95 price tag.
Desserts from The Olive Tree Brasserie Preston’s bargain basement menu were an afterthought: generously portioned, but the Berry Compote was so sour only a few mouthfuls could be kept down. Conversely, its partner in crime – the Honey Compote – was so sickly sweet, I saved it for my diabetic brothers’ next hypo.
The ambience and staff were equally pleasant, but the Olive Tree Brasserie Preston’s food demonstrated obvious flaws. However, due to the exceptional early bird prices and positive atmosphere, I can’t hold a grudge.
Olive Tree Brasserie Preston
Atmosphere 7 Cost 9 Quality 3 Service 8