Not much can top a fresh, authentic Italian meal in a relaxed setting, which is exactly what you’ll get at Olives Restaurant & Bar, says Molly Dyson.
When it comes to entertaining clients or booking a dinner meeting for your boss, sometimes simple is best. That’s not exactly how I’d describe chef Davide Di Croce’s unique take on Italian classics, but Olives at The Bailey’s Hotel certainly has a more home-cooked feel to it than most other places we normally recommend. But don’t let the restaurant’s relaxed family vibes fool you – the food here is first class.
I arrive an hour before my table booking to meet hotel manager Cipriano Silva, who shows me some of the stylish, recently refurbished guest rooms while he explains that the property wants to provide an up-market design with a family-friendly atmosphere. That much is evident by the fact that Silva greets many guests by name as we tour the building before winding up in the buzzing bar for a glass of fizz. He tells me the hotel is just about to complete a new space that combines work and play, offering both a meeting location and a media room.
In the restaurant, there’s a mix of people in business suits and families, with the staff being careful to keep them relatively separated for privacy’s sake. The large space and incredibly tall ceiling ensure conversations don’t drift, while a playlist of classics and modern tunes create a wonderful ambience.
Davide’s menu is extensive but not daunting. Our waiter highly suggests the pan-roasted squab pigeon to start so I go with that and don’t regret it in the slightest, while my partner keeps it light with an order of sautéed tender stem broccoli with garlic, chili and almond flakes.
Next up is a delicious pan-roasted sea bass fillet with pancetta, artichokes and potatoes for me – a dish that reminds me of something my childhood friend’s Italian mother once cooked up for us. My plus-one’s choice makes me slightly jealous, though – duck breast with spiced honey, chard and an oh-so-sweet port sauce. Both of our mains pair very well with a Venetian pinot grigio blush.
Dessert is by far my favourite part of this meal; I just have to try Davide’s pistachio tiramisu, which is so creamy and soft that I savour every last bite. My companion’s caramel and coffee tarte with rose water custard is sweet and crisp. Both go down a treat with a lovely dark espresso.
Olives is open for lunch and dinner, as well as afternoon tea, and its location in The Bailey’s Hotel – right next to the Millennium Gloucester – makes it an ideal choice for businesses looking to entertain guests.
What we ate
Pan-roasted squab pigeon – £13.50
Broccoli Calabresi saltati – £4
Pan-roasted sea bass fillet – £22
Pan-roasted duck breast – £19
Tiramisu al pistachio – £7
Caramel and coffee tarte – £7
Bottle of Pinot Grigio Blush Sospiro,
Veneto, 2013 – £32
Olives Restaurant & Bar, The Bailey’s Hotel; 140 Gloucester Road, London SW7 4QH; 020 7331 6308; olivesrestaurant.co.uk