Girl in Bristol drops by The Olive Shed on the 25th March 2015 to review for 365Bristol … 

The Olive Shed is, without doubt, based in one of the most beautiful parts of Bristol.

As we walked towards the Mediterranean bistro, we watched the last of the sun’s rays dance upon the floating harbour. The high-rise buildings, bridges and restaurants of the urban horizon which lay just beyond, were illuminated by an array of twinkling lights and colour which grew more pronounced as the evening descended. The gentle hum of the subdued city was all that could be heard, save for the rhythmic sound of oars which stirred the nearby waters as a group of rowers went past.

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It was a pretty spectacular sight to have whilst we dined by candlelight on the upper floor of the Olive Shed, sat next to a row of French doors/ windows which enhanced our view further. The warm tones and rustic themes of the venue, created a relaxed and cosy environment, sheltered from the cold. Though the outdoor space promised to be a great sun-trap in the summer.

Once we were seated, we were given a tapas and ‘main kitchen’ menu which offered starters, mains, sides and desserts. There was also a chalkboard on the wall which listed several alternate options, including the Olive Shed’s infamous mussels starter. Thankfully the main menu was still relatively concise, providing four choices for each course, with the exception of the dessert course which offered six options.

For our starters, my companion opted for carrot and chickpea pancakes with tomato confit and tzaziki (£5.95) whilst I chose to dive straight in with a meat course of apricot stuffed saddle of lamb with black olive tapenade and fresh mint (£6.50). The ingredients used in both dishes were perfectly matched. The crispy pancakes, moistened by the tzaziki and succulent tomatoes which were still on the vine. My saddle of lamb, tender with a touch of pink, was greatly complimented by the sweetness of the apricots and slight saltiness of the olive tapenade which awakened the palate.

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As for the main course, we were both immediately drawn to the rack of lamb served with braised fennel, spring onion mash, sour cherry and mint garnish (£16.95). The mash was deliciously smooth and creamy, invigorated by the flavours of the sour cherry and mint. The two joints of lamb, again, were perfectly tender whilst not being too rubbery. It was so delicious I even ate the rind and fattier parts of the meat which I usually avoid. That said, I think both of us still wished there was a little more meat on the plate.

11015921_10153200058524860_406241244_nFor dessert, my companion Chloe was somewhat challenged as she has boldly given up sugar for lent, so she chose an individual cheese platter. I, on the other hand, being a ridiculously sweet-toothed individual, went for the crème caramel dish made with blood orange and chase marmalade vodka, dusted with bitter chocolate (£5.95). My dessert, when it arrived, was chilled and jelly-like in texture. The flavours of the blood orange and caramel came through well and it wasn’t too boozy which I’m always wary of with desserts. The selection of cheeses also went down well and were served with several different chutneys and biscuits on a great carved wooden platter.

Whilst the food at the Olive Shed is a little more on the expensive side, every dish is thoughtfully sourced, well presented and of exceptional quality. I particularly liked the open kitchen downstairs which allowed customers to see the chefs at work as they came in. The staff were friendly and the venue was unique and topical in its décor given its Mediterranean roots.

The Olive Shed are indeed a credit to the Bristol food scene.

The Floating Harbour, Princes Wharf, Bristol

(Whilst the food was complimentary for this review, all opinions are my own.)

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