Olive, Mehrauli: Winter Menu 2014, a sneak peak

Skeeter woke up and felt she needed to pinch herself to believe that she actually had the kind of food she did one night ago. It was Olive time again. Olive is one of the most pleasing places to eat at. Whether you pick a daytime visit, a cool evening or an unrelenting winter night; you are bound to want to stay there a little more. Couple the ambience with great food and here’s what follows: Skeeter arrived to this beautiful box of savoury cornetto planted on arborio rice like a bejwelled mini garden. Chef Sujan Sarkar never fails to amuse (bouche)!
What stuns Skeeter most is how the chef plays around with beetroot to yield (oops plate) spectacle after spectacle. He presents the same ingredients in a different avtaar whenever he wants! Last time Skeets had a Salt baked beetroot with goat’s cheese, wild rocket leaves, orange and apricot puree. This time she had a Beetroot Carpaccio sandwich (piped cream cheese sandwiched in two slim roundels of beetroot) seated around artichokes, scattered pine nuts, orange segments and drizzled with a mint dressing. Who’d  think beetroot can be had in so many deelish variations?

The Melting Camembert was another stunner. The presentation was as classic and appealing as the dish itself. Gooey, melting Camembert cheese surrounded by a mix of mushrooms fried in garlic and perfumed with thyme with a side of a perfectly done puffed wheat toast served on a cast iron pan standing on a wooden platter. How very 60’s?! You’d want to dig right in like Skeeter did and stop only when you wipe the pan clean 🙂

Plating food in an arty way is sure a treat to the eyes and the senses. But when you see a remarkably well-plated dish it is equally heartbreaking to demolish it. So it happened with Skeeter when she saw the Pan seared Gnocchi, with minty Zucchini and green beans, with pea puree, crunchy toasted almonds in a blue cheese emulsion. The Gnocchi came swimming in the blue cheese and pea puree and was topped with watercress that made the whole thing look like a heavenly herb garden where fairies come to play. Have a look! 

There was a sublime wild mushroom risotto too!

All through her meal, Skeeter was sipping on this wonderful drink called Hot Velvet, perfect to nurse a cold or just get mildly high on a nippy evening. It was stirred up with Grey Goose, spice syrup and earl grey tea; served warm, and came glistening in a transparent, long glass mug, with a stick of cinnamon, a star anise, an orange rind for company. 
The dessert made a befitting end to a great meal. Mini creme caramels, drizzled with caramel popcorn consomme, a chia seed and hazel nut crunch topping. A must try on your list, when you go visiting Olive.
P.S: Skeeter was invited for the winter menu sampling

A wild and leafy summer: Olive

There’s something about Olive that keeps drawing Skeeter to the place time and again. The ever-inviting ambience? The pleasant and smiling, unpretentious staff? Aye! But more than that the skilled chef! For without good food, a place like Olive at a location like Mehrauli cannot continue to be a crowd puller. Chef Sujan Sarkar bowled Skeeter over with some of his finest creations. He admits that preparing a vegetarian menu which is neck-to-neck with the non-vegetarian one is no simple task. But he takes up the challenge and how! P.S: Chef Sujan Sarkar is sneakingly suspicious of guests that come asking for Pizzas. Agree Olive pizzas are good, but once you move beyond cheese and tomato there’s a whole new world to discover.

Here are Skeeter’s favourites off Olive summer menu. The amuse bouche (above), a pumpkin cracker, slathered with soft goat’s cheese and topped with semi dried tomatoes and garnished with mini sorrel sprouts made for a pretty plate. Up next was the Salt baked beetroot with goat’s cheese, wild rocket leaves, orange and apricot puree. The picture below does no justice to the beauty of the plate and marriage of flavours. In India, we are so used to cooking and overcooking our greens (thing what poor sarson ka saag and palak are subjected to: boiling, pureeing and frying!), that we’ve actually forgotten to keep it simple. Take cue!

The Charred baby gem and summer vegetables came with savoury granola, smoked goat curd, and pickled palm hearts. Fresh, summery and very indulgent. Skeeter could have had many helpings of the charred baby gem, but then there was other delicious food calling out to her. 

A simple palate cleanser: Yoghurt sorbet (below).

On to the mains. There was Fettucine topped in a simple sauce topped with super crisp Zucchini fritters (pic below). There was a decent Green asparagus and broad bean risotto. But what stole Skeeter’s soul was a wonderfully crisscross grilled baby Zucchini and creamy polenta (Pave of Melanzane).

Pave of Melanzane
A summer meal is incomplete without king of fruit: mangoes! A Mille Feuille of mango, in signature Olive style (remember the strawberry one?)took care of that. Mango sorbet with a mango and mascarpone cheese mousse. Yum! And though there was no, and absolutely no space for more, the chef insisted we wait for the baked cheesecake, which was a 5-star dessert! It came with passion fruit curd, some rhubarb bits for decor, chocolate soil and sorbet on the side. Divine!
Mille Feuille of mango

Baked cheesecake

Olive Bar & Kitchen, Mehrauli revisited


The gorgeous Dilli ki Sardi continues, albeit, a lot abated. What better way to make the most of it than eat out; at a restaurant with loose white pebbled floor, over lots of talking and good food! Skeety did just that at Olive Bar & Kitchen, Mehrauli, where she sampled some of the offerings of the new chef, Sujan Sarkar. He has taken over what was Chef Saby’s stronghold and is wooing diners with his food artistry.
Sujan brings in a lot of zing to the food at Olive. If Skeeter has to sum up Chef Sujan Sarkar’s vegetarian food in a line it would be this: Basic vegetables cooked and served with varied elements carefully weaved together to make the dish a work of art.
A wild mushroom tortellini had Skeeter floored at the onset. It has a robust flavour (hail the morels)and the presentation was at par with the taste. Nothing could comfort soul and sight more. Oh and the brioche served with it made for an excellent pairing!

Next came the Deep fried Brie with marinated beetroot, mandarin, apricot pûrée and rocket leaves. The thing about cheese is that when you cook it, it needs to be served at the right temperature. You either hit the spot or miss it. The brie was perfect and the accompaniments made it better, especially the marinated beetroot. Skeets is a big beet fan anyway. 
Gnocchi served up right in the cast iron skillet on a wooden tray was a treat to the eyes. Just like your mom would bring it to the dining table at home! It tasted perfect and had Chef Sujan’s creative skills written all over it. The gnocchi came with broccoli and was tossed in a blue cheese sauce and sprinkled with garlic crumbs for a superb finish. Divine!

The wood oven roasted pumpkin stole the show at the table. It came with green beans, a dollop of creamy mascarpone labneh, a sprinkle of black quinoa seeds, popped amaranth, a dash pumpkin seeds, a slather of apricot purée, and pumpkin seed oil mimosa. The dish has eleven elements and is a killer if you are a pumpkin fan. If you are not it has the strength to turn you into one. Chef Sujan has pretty much an Indian mind {using many elements (read masalas) to make a star of a dish} but has tweaked it in an international style. While most Indian food is a resultant blend of many masalas, Sujan serves up the many ingredients in a dish in such a way that they taste superb. You can see them all and yet the clubbing of them make a single dish a star. So you know exactly what went into the making. Skeeter could go on… 

The garden vegetable primavera had handmade spinach fettuccine tossed with vegetables, pesto and pine nuts. The handmade fettuccine’s texture was a revelation as the flour had semolina mixed in it to give it a crunch. Also, it would retain its texture for a greater time period as compared to total APF. The pesto in which it was tossed tasted fresh and the dish was decadent. It was served with a truffle mash potato on the side. 
For dessert we had a Mille feuille of strawberry with strawberry sorbet, strawberry and mascarpone mousse. It was every girl’s dream dessert. Skeeter wanted to take it home, freeze it and frame it 😀 
The signature dark chocolate fondant was well plated but nothing to write home about. Also, do try their petit fours which come in a striking peacock blue box containing butter cookies, honeycomb, chocolate bombs with Callebaut goodness and a stack of macaroons. Go for it!
P.S. You are likely to experience a visible change in the staff. They know what they are serving and would come and politely introduce themselves to you. A good sign, I say.