Only Michelin starred restaurant in Bath and new starred entry for the Michelin guide 2019 located in the lower ground area of the Queensberry hotel
Since the deletion of a Michelin star at The Bath Priory, The Olive Tree has gained its place firmly on the SW England map by now being the only starred restaurant in Bath. This accolade was awarded for the first time this year with Chris Cleghorn as Head Chef who has been at The Olive Tree since 2013 (formerly at The Fat Duck and Gidleigh Park). There are a wealth of menus to choose from and our 5 course menu was £68 per head including some good extras. I was pleased with this meal and although it feels perhaps a little too snug inside, the result was a good one and both at the table walked away feeling it was worth the visit.
The restaurant is located in the basement area of the boutique Queensberry hotel and the restaurant is also the area breakfast is served to guests staying (or visiting in my case for a pop in breakfast previously). Canapes of Tunworth cheese gougeres with Madeira gel and truffle and pork with pineapple gel and timut pepper were equally a very good way to start. This was a decent advert of what was to come and it highlighted the importance of first impressions as this naurally raises the mood of the diner whenever this level of investment is placed in the initial greetings, no matter how small.
First of the five was smoked eel, golden beetroot, lovage and apple which had an absolutely superb oil and dressing base. The apple was very well judged to add the acidity it needed and the flavours really worked here. A brilliant start. Next came Ox tongue, Isle of Wight tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce and nasturtiums with the Ox being so slowly cooked that it almost reminded me of a childhood flavourite classic of corned beef hash but significantly upgraded.
It was a little bit of a suprise that the bread came only after the first two courses, so I can only imagine this was a little slip here, but on the good side, it was satisfying to have such good homemade rye & treacle bread with clotted cream butter. Again, the little niceties do go a long way.
Chalk stream trout (confit), mushroom ketchup, peas and morels was another lovely dish. There’s almost never a bad time for morels and the mushroom ketchup was lovely as was the melt in the mouth texture of the trout; the only negative really being that the price for having such tender fish through confit cooking is that it practically loses most of its flavour and simply becomes a vehicle for these other parts. Not that this is a huge issue as they were all lovely, but thankfully the caviar on top was there to rescue and boost the flavour from the sea.
The lamb rump was fine and served in an innovative way with anchovies, lettuce, ewe’s curd and mint and again, I felt that it needed these as the lamb itself was quite plain as lamb goes. Not the powerhouse of lamb flavour that can be gained from other cuts, but again, this was nicely presented with a very good reduction holding it all together well.
Elderflowers, gooseberries, vanilla meringue and sorrel was one of the desserts which had a lovely ‘jelly and ice cream’ factor to it which is always a pleasure. A refreshing dessert here. The dark chocolate mousse was thankfully thicker than the word indicates and was toned down nicely by an ultra smooth yoghurt ice cream (very good). Olive oil with chocolate is not something new to me and does seem to work as an alternative to salted caramel or salted chocolate, but I did feel there was just too much of the this as the chocolate was practically bathing in it. There doesn’t actually need to be very much olive oil to get the effect that this gives, but either way, taking only parts of it created a pleasant combination. Coffee was from Du Monde and the petit fours chocolates were just right quantity for the food had.
Overall, this was a well balanced menu with a superb beginning and generally pleasing dishes throughout the lunch. Owing to the overall space in the restaurant and the fact that all tables for two guests appear to have to been placed on one side and barely a foot apart, the only negative here is being eavesdropped on if you have diners either side of you with not much to say to each other. However, a down to earth and caring level of hospitality from the staff seemed to make up for this. This was a very good advert for a visit and fits comfortably in the 1 Michelin starred family through my lens.
Food Grade: 79%
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