Restaurant review: The Olive Branch
Published September 28, 2012
By Matt Wright
Almost every inch of Rutland is rural, so pointing out that the Olive Branch occupies a nice spot surrounded by wonderful countryside is to state an unremarkable fact.
However, everything else about this country pub is quite remarkable.
Much has been written about The Olive Branch over the years, so I was determined to approach it with an open mind. The beautifully tended front garden was a good start and inside the atmosphere was relaxed, convivial, yet somehow charged with a sense of occasion. Maybe it was the front of house team, who were warm and friendly but stylishly professional, or it could have been the alchemy of smart yet unpretentious fixtures and fittings. There’s an art to creating a great pub or restaurant interior and an eye for detail is crucial. Someone here has a great eye – you’re made to feel at home, yet also that you’re somewhere special.
“Sit at the bar, have a pint of Olive Ale (brewed specially by the Grainstore Brewery of Oakham), absorb the menu and relax,” was the message imparted without actually being said. “Your table is ready, but no rush. Enjoy a Melton Sloe Gin cocktail or a Lavender Lemonade.” I don’t think anyone said that last bit either, but it was certainly implied.
After taking our seats, an amuse-bouche of full English breakfast terrine arrived – a surprising treat, tasty and fun. I can still remember the superb herb butter served with the homemade bread, and my main of Lincolnshire sausages in red wine gravy was rich and comforting, getting me in the mood for chilly autumn nights. My wife’s fish and chips (we clearly weren’t feeling sophisticated that night) were first class and enhanced by a zingy handmade tartar sauce that offered a burst of acidic, lemony freshness.
The Olive Branch is remarkable because it’s a pub that transcends a pub. It offers a sense of occasion, creative and interesting menus (despite our choices), and exceptional food in a homely setting. I headed home through that Rutland countryside feeling cosseted, satisfied and happy.