Mediterranean Bistro The Olive Branch is located in a hidden nook on Church Street in Worcester city centre. The Georgian building is on 3 levels with the restaurant serving tapas and traditional Mediterranean cuisine from its first floor dining room. Formerly The Glasshouse, a decade ago the kitchen was headed up by chef Shaun Hill, Worcester’s celebrity chef who currently owns Michelin starred Inn – The Walnut Tree in Abergavenny.
The restaurant in its present day guise has remained popular with Worcester diners, and is the 5th best restaurant in the city according to TripAdvisor. Despite having been established now for 6 years, I’d only ever eaten at The Olive Branch once before with no reason in particular for not returning. We were very excited to have been invited along to sample the tapas lunch menu.
The lunch offers start at 12pm and are served until 7pm every weekday, choose from 5 tapas for £25 or a sharing board & wine also for £25. Or if you’d prefer a gin & tonic with your fill, it’s 2 for £10 during the same hours. All tapas is £6.95 when ordering individually and it’s suggested that 1 is enough as a starter or 3 as a main course. Check out the vegan menu. Rather eat your tapas at home? That’s cool too as The Olive Branch are set up on deliveroo, or just call and collect yourself to get 10% off your food bill. All sounds pretty good to me!
The upstairs restaurant has a very romantic and intimate feel to it. It’s the sort of place that will really show off its charm at night. One for a valentines day treat? We were offered a menu with the chef’s specials listing 3 main course Mediterranean style dishes; including a mushroom & gorgonzola gnocchi (£13.95), squid ink tagliatelle (£18.95) and slow roasted belly pork (£14.95). Instead we agreed on 5 tapas we fancied sharing as that’s what we were there to try. Our waitress recommended that we also have some bread based on our choices, so we went with a side of Greek flat bread (£1.95).
The food was very rustic, arriving in tapas bowls served on wooden sharing boards. The first thing we tasted was the halloumi cheese, which was seasoned with paprika and came with a side pot of roast pepper and sun dried tomato chutney. Although deep fried, the crispy batter was light and seasoned really well. The little cubes of cheese were a winner for us and the balsamic mayonnaise was perfect for dipping in the halloumi. We were curious about the roasted chicken croquettes, described on the menu as mixed herbs and béchamel rolled in breadcrumbs and deep fried. Neither of us were keen on the texture and probably wouldn’t order them next time, but this is purely personal taste and the wide range of tapas on offer has plenty of choice for everyone.
A mini paella made with chicken, chorizo, red peppers, green peas and saffron infused rice was homemade and came in a cast iron pan. We both really enjoyed the paella and even as a ‘mini’ version it was a very generous portion. The prawns were up next and although simply pan fried in olive oil, garlic, paprika and fresh chilli, they were delicious. We enjoyed 2 large prawns each, dipping the flesh into the garlicky oil making a real mess of it as we devoured them. Now with our plates full of prawn shells we realised we’d probably done this in the wrong order or in hindsight should have asked for a separate plate.
All that was left to try were the mince beef meatballs (poplette), the meat combined with parmesan, breadcrumbs, garlic, chilli and oregano. The rich tomato sauce had been reduced with red wine and infused with basil. This was our favourite dish from our selection without a doubt. The Greek flat breads came in very useful as our waitress had suggested, for mopping up the meatball sauce and what was left of the oil from the prawns. The 5 dishes were more than enough food at lunch time for 2 people and we thought it was a superb deal. We plan to return for dinner and try out some of the main courses too for the evening menu. Oh and the desserts as we were definitely too full to try one at lunch.
I like that there is a good range of price options, with gluten free pasta available, as well as offering something a little bit different from Worcester’s other independent restaurants. We really enjoyed our lunch and found the staff to be very welcoming and friendly. When we chatted afterwards with owner Adam, he also gave us a peak into the downstairs cellar which has been transformed into a wine bar. He told us that they also hire it out for small tapas parties – what a great idea! In the summer the outside courtyard at the front of the restaurant is open, so you can pretend you’re in the Med and order yourself a gin or cocktail from their vast drinks menu. See you again soon and muchas gracias.
Cost: £25 (food only)
5 tapas dishes
Worcester, Worcestershire, United Kingdom – last visited in January 2018
Food hygiene rating – 5/5 very good – date of last inspection 26th January 2016
*Although our food and drinks were complimentary on this particular visit, as ever my words and photos are my own. Thank you again to Adam and to the whole team at The Olive Branch for hosting us and making us feel very welcome.