So, my fab friend Tim decided to emigrate. I considered slapping him but decided instead to treat him to a magnificent meal. Having read a number of rave reviews of the restaurant, my choice of a venue was easy: the new(ish) Olives & Plates in West Street, Sandton. I told Tim to starve himself the entire day; we were going to have a feast!
It was thus that, with our blood sugar levels running dangerously low, Tim fetched me (a bout of gout meant he was totally off booze and therefore the designated driver) and we headed for Olives & Plates. We found convenient – and free – parking right next door (during office hours, you need to pay for parking at Mandela Square/Michelangelo). As we walked towards the restaurant, I warned Tim that it would be packed … because we all know that Olives & Plates is THE place to go to right now. And it was a Friday night nogal.
Yet, when we entered the restaurant, there wasn’t a soul in sight! Tim looked at me like I was mad (it’s a look I get all too often). “Packed huh? I hope your promise of great food is more reliable …” he chirped.
Before taking our seats, we admired the homemade cakes that are displayed at the back of the elegant restaurant. We decided that we had to save space for dessert … they all look just amazing.
The enticing options on the menu look equally amazing … we both decided to skip starters and go straight to the mains but we couldn’t decide what to order. So we consulted with the owners, Jimmy and Andrea, who must be the nicest restaurant owners in town. They were both really friendly and chatty and eventually (after much debate) we decided on the Parmesan Panko Crusted Chicken Fillets (R105) for me and the Roast Chicken Pie (R80) for Tim. Given the low prices, we were expecting small portions, and lots of space in our tummies for those yummy desserts.
WRONG! When my chicken fillets arrived, I was impressed to receive two large breasts and a healthy portion of carrot and potato mash (you can order salad, chips or roasted veg if you prefer). What impressed me even more was the rich, decadent and utterly delicious flavour of the chicken. It wasn’t dry at all… it was utterly perfect.
Tim’s chicken pie was massive too … in fact, we could easily have shared it. The flavour of the roast chicken, mushrooms and leeks was sublime; the light and fluffy pastry on top didn’t overpower the dish either. As Tim ate his meal, he groaned in delight … much to the amusement of the table next to us (by now the restaurant was starting to fill).
When we dine out, we often share food. So I ate one of my chicken fillets, Tim ate half his pie and then we exchanged plates. “Yours cannot be better than mine. That pie is the best I’ve ever had,” he noted with confidence as he handed his plate over.
WRONG AGAIN! “Oh my goodness. This is so, so so good,” he groaned loudly, as he munched on my chicken. By now, he was making noises like my neighbours… when they are “on the job” so to speak … The diners at the table next to us now stared openly …
Eventually our dishes were empty. Probably to the delight of the other patrons. We both decided that we couldn’t possibly have dessert; we were simply too full.
Then Andrea arrived. “Don’t be ridiculous. You simply must have dessert. What can I bring you?” she asked. Tim decided on the carrot cake; I chose the tiramisu (on her recommendation). We were simply blown away when both desserts arrived; they looked so good. Tim got stuck right in. But, as he took his first mouthful, he suddenly started making strange noises again. “It’s that good, huh?” I asked. “No, I think I’m dying,” he responded. “Dying thanks to sheer eating pleasure?” I asked, while laughing and taking a swig of my chenin. “No, you stupid woman. I think it’s got almonds in it. I’m allergic to almonds!”
Oopsie. I suggested that Tim empty the contents of his mouth into his napkin (oh dear, more strange looks followed from the table next to us). We called Andrea over and she confirmed that yes indeed, the carrot cake did contain almonds. She apologised profusely (it clearly wasn’t her fault) and whipped the offending cake away so fast that I didn’t get to taste it. Which was a pity – because it looked darn good. Almonds and all.
Tim’s replacement – pecan nut pie – was sensational, as was my tiramisu. We ended our meal with no other incident or load moaning (through delight or death).
When I got the bill – R300 – I knew that a mistake had been made. So I queried it. “No, it’s quite right. You didn’t actually want dessert. I insisted that you have dessert. So they’re on the house,” said the awesome Andrea.
Prior to arriving at Olives & Plates (it was my first visit), I had never met Andrea or Jimmy. But, on the way out, I couldn’t help myself. I gave Andrea a big fat hug as we were leaving. Like paying your TV licence, it just felt like the right thing to do.
It is that feeling – along with exceptional food and superb service – that will see Olives & Plates go from strength to strength. I can’t wait to go back …
Doesn’t this look good? I’m going to order it next time…