Feeling a bit fed up with grey days and shivers? Fancy a Greek holiday? We’ve got the next best thing – step inside The Olive Grove, Cambridge. Not many places really transport you, even without being overly ‘themed’, perhaps it was the stylish elderly man with the round black-rimmed glasses dining alone, or the happy murmur of groups of young students, but it really did have a lovely warm Mediterranean feeling.
I took my mum out for a bit of quality mother daughter time and after a delicious pre-cocktail at Novi, we settled in to our table complete with cosy candle. Red wine was in order, mum had a lovely Cabernet Sauvignon and I opted for a Malbec – I was definitely making the most of travelling in by train. We kicked off with the vegetarian sharing platter (£15.95) as I like to try lots of things. It was impressively presented with delicious mouthfuls of each, with well matched dips and authentic Greek flatbreads – pretty much the only thing they don’t make from scratch everyday in house. There was Tyrokeftedes made with three different Greek cheeses, Manitaria Gemista which were mushroom based and went so well with the beetroot dip and the most delicious courgette muffins. A highlight for me was the Melitzanosalata smoked aubergine dip which I could have happily eaten a whole pot of with those flat breads.
We also had the juicy Kalamatas olives which were absolutely perfect with our big flavoured wine. I was hoping to also order some extra seafood starters but we were both so stuffed after our mezze we went straight for mains – I’ll definitely be back to try the calamari!
We’d been recommended to try the Kotsi Kleftiko (£19.50), lamb shank cooked for 12 hours, so that’s what mum went for, the flavours were great, she was hoping for it to be melt-in-the-mouth soft and it wasn’t quite, maybe it only had 11 hours this time. I opted for the clearly labelled dairy free option of Solomos (17.80), baked salmon on a bed of lentils, spring onion, cucumber and beetroot served with a greek-style carob teriyaki sauce. It was delicious, an enormous piece of salmon and I’m a sucker for a really well-flavoured lentil dish and this ticked all my meal-satisfaction boxes.
I liked the relaxed off-menu approach to desserts and immediately opted for Baklava with a whopping great glass of Greek dessert wine our lovely waitress recommended. Sian has really got me hooked on dessert wine ever since our Alimentum jaunt and the Mavrodaphne was a delight. I was definitely very merry so we had a peppermint tea before the walk home – unfortunately the fresh mint had just run out, but I like that it was on the menu.
We really enjoyed our meal, it’s not the most budget-friendly but the service, portion size and love in the food is evident, plus we saw lots of groups ordering a few dishes and sharing which I thought would make a great informal meal with friends. I loved how clearly the menu was labelled and gluten free, lactose free and vegan dishes were plentiful which was really great to see. So go and transport yourself, it would be great for a cosy date, time with a relative or with a small group of friends before a night out. You’ll be guarenteed to leave absolutely stuffed!
The Olive Grove, 100 Regent Street, Cambridge, CB2 1DP