Highly Recommended A Turkish Delight
Turkish and Mediterranean cuisine in a cosy, fully licensed restaurant, right in the centre of town. Justifiably popular, The Olive Branch is relaxed and unpretentious, yet eating here is slightly exotic and definitely a treat.
Warm air infused with aromatic herbs swirls around cheerful diners. The tastes are unmistakable – olive oil, garlic, mountain herbs, salty cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, paprika and creamy yoghurt. Meats are marinated, cheeses grilled, pizzas baked in a stone oven. The walls are inset with chunks of Turkish marble and adorned with iconic Turkish landscapes. The service is smooth and every customer is welcomed as a special guest.
Piquant starters whet the appetite. Vine leaf rolls, calamari, halloumi, pepperoni… or go for the gamut of flavours in a meze-to-share. Starters £4-£5, meze £12-£13. Ample vegetarian choices include tarator – a Turkish spinach dish – and patlican salatasi – a colourful, spicy aubergine salad. The feta-and-olives option is served with sesame flatbread, on a bed of shredded lettuce doused liberally with zingy dressing; everything we tried, including this simplest of options, was delectable.
Moving on to mains, the DIY kavurma (Turkish fajitas) are messy and fun. Specials, such as guzu guvec (slow-cooked lamb casserole) or tavuk beyti (chicken kofta), are well worth trying if you’re a meat-eater. Succulent kebabs are a very distant relative of the after-pub variety and Mediterranean vegetable stew with savoury bulgar is rich, light, and delicately flavoursome. The som baligi (salmon fillet steak) was stunning, and the pides (a traditional dish something like a pizza without the cheese) are far richer and tastier than they sound. At the Olive Branch every component is prepared, seasoned and served with care. Salads and chargrilled veg are as delicious as grains, dips and dressings, which complement meat, fish or vegetable centrepieces perfectly. Mains £9-£15.
Home made Turkish desserts include baklava, cookies and stuffed figs with cream or ice cream. The adventurous can round off their meal with a thick Turkish coffee or an indulgent, alcoholic “Turkish delight”.
A decent wine list, a summer-holiday-style cocktail menu and a bar serving spirits and bottled beers provide plenty of choice in the drinks department. Jugs of tap water with ice and lemon are provided free of charge and with a smile if you’re keeping it simple.
A starter and main course is just £12.95 Sunday-Thursday. Lunchtimes you can pop in for a wrap or salad with a sneaky glass of vino for £6.95.