At certain times during the week the business district – Old Hall, Castle Street and the like – go a bit quiet. Weekends for example. Night-times too. The area is slowly turning it around with sparkling new restaurants like Viva Brazil and the bars and foodie places of Victoria Street creeping down towards the river, but it’s not a part of town known for its food.
The Olive Press is rare in that it stays open beyond 5pm every night, continuing to offer its popular Mediterranean fare past lunch and into dinner territory.
Formerly part of the diminished Heathcotes family, The Olive Press was hived off and sold to the people behind the Living Room at the same time that Simply Heathcotes was closed – but it still presents an unfussy, relaxed space that offers good, affordable and fairly fast food day and night.
The menu suggests an authentic Italian pizzeria and pasta kitchen; plenty of herbs and garlic and oil and seafood but there are 28 day ages steaks, sashimi tuna and more authentic seafood choices like hake, seabream and seabass at good prices.
We were looking for a quick, tasty meal so skipped the starters but were tempted by Fritto Misto, including deep fried squid, prawns and sardines with a lemon mayonnaise for £6.95 and beef carpaccio for £6.25.
Since pasta and risotto are the staples on the Olive Press menu we went for them; a chicken, mushroom, cream and pesto pasta dish (£9.25) and a goat’s cheese and red onion pizza (£7.25).
The pizza was obviously handmade and stone-baked, while the pasta was well-cooked and, pleasingly featured some strips of leg and thigh meat. It was certainly filling and hearty – though it was a little underseasoned.
£30 for two drinks, two mains and a side dish of roquette and parmesan is about right for a quick post-work meal.
There’s a decent choice of wines, cocktails, beers and liqueurs while the promise of more interesting meals means a return visit is likely. It may be under new ownership but the Olive Press still shows an intent to do the simple things well.
The Olive Press