It’s not often that a restaurant captures the heart of a city, that too with as vibrant a food scene as Delhi, for 15 long years. And not in a nostalgic ‘visiting because it used to be great in its time’ way, rather, championing contemporary trends with each passing year. But Olive Delhi is a star of example of just that. Olive Bar & Kitchen set foot in the capital in November 2003, and has since never ceased being the capital’s hotspot for meeting up over good food, cocktails, and conversations that follow. At the brink of their 15th birthday, AD Singh shared his most cherished memories from this decade and a half, and now, as the anniversary year draws to a close, they have an all-new menu to charm patrons all over again.
I started off with a cornbread and spiced corn drink. While the bread got a bit much of that corn taste for me, it’s great for those who love that makki flavour. However, the corn drink is a must try, beautifully layered with spices. One of the hits was the White Asparagus & Horseradish. A croquette with horseradish filling, topped with parmesan, and horseradish panna cotta, with white asparagus shavings, and balsamic cooked grapes on the side make for a medley of flavours. The strikingly pungent horseradish is balanced by the feel good croquette and cheese, while the slightly sweet grapes and bitter-sweet asparagus add to the bouquet of notes and textures here. If going green, the Chayote Squash & Foxtail Millet should be your choice. Subtle tastes from avocado, squash, and nutty foxtail millet make for a refreshing salad.
Another vegetarian winner was the Ricotta & Colocasia Tortelli. Pasta filled with ricotta cheese, cooked in herb butter, accompanied by glazed colocasia (arbi) and crisps is a heartwarming plate, all the elements of comfort food present in one dish. In the non-vegetarian variety I stuck to trying the seafood. The Toyosu Market Octopus has crunchy octopus on a bed of pimentos and spicy sauce puree (mojo picon). The tempered spices add a zing to the octopus, which is usually bland, and the chewy texture has been made easy to bite into – a delight if you love seafood. The Brûléed Chilean Sea Bass comes with a barley-tahini marinade, bringing out nutty and malted notes, with a side of celeriac puree cupped in the half-cut celeriac itself. While the fish is done superbly, the clear winner here is the treatment of celeriac, turning an underrated ingredient into a not-to-be-missed dish.
The dessert platter had everyone at the table swooning. Not that we were expecting any less from Olive! Matcha opera cake, cacao macaroons, baked ganache…while we would’ve loved to go through the entre dessert section, these were the ones that will have many repeats in the coming times. The entire menu has been curated by chef Dhruv Oberoi and his team, and divided into ‘cheese’, ‘flora’, ‘fauna’, ‘marine’, and ‘dessert’ sections, striving to bring the focus on each of these separately, instead of diners going for the typical pizza & pasta orders. There’s also keen care taken for procuring ingredients, be it cheese from local farms or caviar from Russia.
I have to say, it was no surprise to dine at Olive Delhi and leave with the appetite and heart equally full. The new menu is yet another representation of their ever-experimental ethos, as well as innovative cooking using basic ingredients. And if you were running out of reasons to visit Olive Delhi (honestly, even if you weren’t), it’s worth it to make yet another trip to the Mediterranean mosaic and iconic tree.
Where: One Style Mile, Haveli 6, Kalka Das Marg, Mehrauli, New Delhi
Opening Hours: From 12:30 pm to 12:30 am, all days
Recommended Dishes: White Asparagus & Horseradish
Price: Rs 4,000 for two
Noise Level: Low during the day to high at night
Service: Courteous, proactive
All images: Courtesy Olive Bar & Kitchen.