If you are looking for magnificent combination of flavours, masterfully prepared, Olive Tree in Bath is your place. Head Chef Chris Cleghorn has created a Michelin-star worthy Modern European showpiece menu using the best of local seasonal ingredients. It is a relaxed and classy restaurant with clockwork and attentive service. Perfect for the special occasions where you don’t mind splashing out on something special.
What is the food like?
Magnificent combination of flavours, masterfully prepared. Head Chef Chris Cleghorn, who trained under Michael Caines, holder of two Michelin stars for 18 consecutive years, has created a Modern European showpiece menu using the best of local seasonal ingredients and produce.
The menu offers 9 dishes as well as vegetarian, vegan and dairy-free rendition of each of them – 3 starters, 3 mains and 3 desserts. Dishes can be ordered as “a la carte” or enjoyed as part of 6-course or 9-course tasting menu.
Right from the start, your tastebuds will be treated to a heavenly concoction of flavours from Orkney scallop sashimi with wasabi and frozen shaved Granny Smith green apples. Scallop and green apple is a traditional British pairing of flavours. Chef Cleghorn has cleverly exploited this by adding fun Japanese/Asian shaved ice and a kick of spicy wasabi. And he goes on from there with gorgeous smoked eel and white asparagus, pan-fried veal sweetbread with salted lemon, potatoes with caviar, monkfish with basil and roast lamb with sheep curd and mint. With three fantastic desserts to round-up the feast, you will be very glad that you have chosen to be there.
The vegan menu is scintillating, but do require some more refinement. Read more about it on detailed review of the dishes below.
How is the drinks selection?
Impressive. There are 19 pages to the wine list of this winner of the ‘AA Overall Wine Award for 2014-15’ and it is a collection of greats from the Old and New World as well as the serious and the fun (as the proprietors have put it). Wine prices ranges from £26 for a bottle of 2018 Adega Camolas “CLO” from Setubal Peninsular in Portugal to £300 for a bottle of 2002 Château Pichon Comtesse from Pauillac (@pichon_comtesse).
The sommelier has selected 3 sets of wine pairing to suit every distinguished palate to accompany the tasting menu. You can also select to have them on a choice of 3, 6 or 9 wines.
What is the place like?
Relaxed and classy. The Olive Tree restaurant is located in the lower ground floor of The Queensbury Hotel in Bath – a boutique hotel converted from four original Georgian townhouses. The restaurant is clean-lined with calming grey walls decorated with quirky black and white drawings in sleek black frames. The space is brightly lit and fitted with plain wooden table and conservative black leather chairs on oak floors.
As it is quite a small space with plenty of hard surfaces, I would prefer it if there are white table cloth to soften the look as well as to absorb the jolly chatters from the diners.
Who are the patrons?
Predominantly holidaymakers from across the UK visiting the historic Roman Georgian town of Bath. Well dressed and mostly here on a special occasion. Equally popular with young adults on dates or group outings as well as older couples on wedding anniversaries or celebrations.
How was the service?
Clockwork and attentive. A personalised birthday card, a vegan menu and two children menus were set on the table – cleverly executing on information shared at reservation. The front of house staff were knowledgeable on the menu and confidently gave us a run-down of the dishes. Dishes then rolled onto our table like clockwork with swift clearing of plates and replenishment of cutleries. Having said that, we did have to remind them twice to bring some slices of lime for our sparkling water.
Is it child friendly?
Yes and there is also a children menu. Menu consists of popular dishes like sausage and mash, pasta, sausage rolls and warm chocolate pudding with ice cream.
Is it dog friendly?
No. The restaurant unfortunately does not have any outdoor seatings.
Yes, for a Michelin-star dining experience. A three-course dinner is priced at £72 or £57 for the vegan option. The nine-course tasting menu is priced at £110 and £90 for the vegan option, while the six-course option if priced at £85 and £75 respectively. The restaurant do charge a discretionary 12.5% service charge.
See below for what my dining companions and I indulged in for this review (prices quoted include VAT):
2014 Château Siran Margaux Bordeaux
This subtle blend of 53.5% Merlot, 38% Cabernet Sauvignon and 8.5% Petit Verdot from a resurging small vineyard on the Left Bank of Bordeaux packs a punch. On the nose, you have a bouquet of raspberry, blackberry, acorn and oak. On the palate, this deep medium-bodied red offers a gentle balance between the softness of the tannins, the intensity of the fruit with a signature spicy note. £120
1. Raw Orkney scallop with wasabi, Granny Smith apple and dill
A heavenly concoction of flavours – sour, sweet, fresh with a hint of hot spice. Chef Cleghorn has cleverly exploited this traditional British pairing of scallop and green apples by adding fun Japanese/Asian shaved ice and a dash of spicy wasabi.
2. Smoked Devon eel with preserved white asparagus and tarragon
The rich chicken sauce with mustard and vinegar worked beautifully together with the mildly preserved white asparagus to infuse a meaty, spicy, nutty and sour flavour to contrasts the succulent sweet and smoky eel.
3. Veal sweetbread with Wye Valley asparagus, salted lemon and hazelnut
The gorgeously prepared sweatbread is satisfying crunchy on the outside and creamy on the inside. Its flavour is lifted by the unique combination of woodiness from hazelnut shaving, salty sourness from the concentrated salted lemon sauce and rich savouriness from the dark sauce.
4. Jersey royal potato with Exmoor caviar and alliums
This deceivingly understated dish has hidden talents. The delicious rich white sauce of shallots, onions, garlics and chives cuts through the full caviar supported by creamy crumbling potatoes.
5. Cornish monkfish on the bone with basil, pea and chorizo
The refreshing basil and pea sauce worked neatly with the pan-fried crunchiness and natural sweetness of the monkfish. The wafer-thin slices of chorizo added depth to this multi-faceted dish.
6. Wiltshire lamb with gem lettuce, anchovies, sheep curd and mint
Not content with the traditional pairing of roast lamb and mint sauce, Chef Cleghorn added creamy and savoury sheep curd and minute slices of fresh mint leaves to lift the dish. The parred-down salad of flame-grilled gem lettuce and salty anchovies were a great complement.
7. Driftwood with golden raisin, Bonini Modena and chicory
Creamy, rich intoxicating flavours of the carefully melted goat cheese were perfectly accented with the sweet sultanas, Bonini Modena balsamic vinegar and bitter chicory.
8. Islands chocolate with yoghurt sorbet, perilla and Manni olive oil
Islands Chocolate is a sustainability minded seed-to-bar chocolatier from St. Vincent in the Caribbean and they make amazing chocolates. Never had chocolate with olive oil and it was a truly unique experience. The delicate flavour and aroma went well with the rich chocolate and refreshing smooth sorbet. But this is no ordinary olive oil, it is supposed to be the world’s best olive oil.
9. Strawberry with clotted cream, pistachio, yuzu and nasturtium
One of the definitive feature of a British’s summer is seasonal strawberries with cream. This is Chef Cleghorn’s supercharged version. The natural pairing of milky cream with fresh sharp sweet strawberries is enhanced with crunch from meringue, sharpness from yuzu coulis, woodiness from nutty pistachio and a mild pepper flavour from nasturtium leaves.
1. Beetroot with kumquat and pecan
A refreshing dish. The earthy charred beetroot flavours were enhanced by the sweet sour kumquat sauce, while the crushed pecan and beetroot sorbet offered a contrasting texture.
2. Globe artichoke with soya yoghurt, black garlic and dill
This was the most beautiful dish from the menu but lacks excitement in flavours. The overall dish has very subtle soft flavours and textures.
3. Wye Valley asparagus with hazelnut and salted lemon
The white asparagus failed to replace the heavenly sweatbread in this vegan rendition of the final starter. The woodiness from hazelnut shaving, salty sourness from the concentrated salted lemon sauce and freshness of the asparagus was missing a star for them to shine on.
4. Jersey royal potato with alliums and hen of woods
Best vegan main dish. The delicious rich white sauce of shallots, onions, garlics and chives worked marvellously with the “buttery” charred mushroom and crumbling potatoes.
5. Chestnut Gnocchetti with “cream cheese”, pea, mint and lettuce
Beautifully presented but the flavours didn’t quite come together. The sweet woodiness of the chestnut was missing from the dish.
6. Roscoff onion tart with Australian black truffle and tenderstem broccoli
The vegan filo pastry crust was underwhelming. It was bland as it was missing its friend, the butter. It didn’t help here as the Black truffle was also lacking in flavour to salvage the dish. Need more work here.
7. Raspberry with fennel, pollen and pistachio
This dessert unfortunately looks nicer then it tastes. The frozen raspberry bits mixed with fennel and pistachio didn’t deliver any exciting tastes nor flavours.
8. Islands chocolate with almond yoghurt sorbet, perilla and Manni olive oil
This was the best vegan dessert. Milk-based yoghurt was replaced with an almond-based which went beautifully with the rich Islands Chocolate and delicate flavours from the Manni olive oil.
9. Strawberry with coconut, yuzu and nasturtiums
Just a small tweak here by replacing milky ice cream with a coconut based ice cream as well as replacing the crunchy meringues with a super-delicious “biscuit”. The natural pairing of cream with fresh sharp sweet strawberries is enhanced with the sharpness from yuzu coulis, woodiness from nutty pistachio and a mild pepper flavour from nasturtium leaves.