Someone asked me recently, ‘Which place is great for eating and just being there.’ I replied, ‘Olive Qutub at Chef Saby.’ This fellow looked at me as if trying to see if it was Vodka in the afternoon that was the reason for my seemingly topsy-turvy reply. However, I certified my soberness when I added, ‘Any restaurant exists because of the creative involvement of its Chef. And Chef Sabyasachi Gorai who loves to be addressed Saby, is rated as one of the top 10 chefs of India, is the director of kitchens here at Olive.’
My friend was suitably convinced because I also told him that from “the Ambanis to the Bachchans to the Doshis and Kapoors, Chef Saby gives his guests a cuisine they agree with and enjoy too! Inspired from Chicago’s Charlie Trotters and Sydney’s Tetsuya, Chef Saby’s unique 7 course ‘Tasting Menu’ at Olive (Delhi) offers world cuisine enough to let your taste buds ask for more.”
The Olive Bar and Kitchen takes you away from the so cosmetic urban façade to bring you right next to the Qutub Minar, where the history of Delhi towers high. This ‘rustic hideaway where good food, laughter, culture and conversation come together in a delightful Mediterranean melting pot’ is where eating transcends the very act of eating and becomes an art that is sublime and yet simplified to the core!
‘The Dirty Martini’ here is ‘a 1920s speakeasy inspired bar set in Europe’ and I found their cocktails served in tea-cups rather seductive. Is that all? No, not at all… I loved their Cherry-wood-smoked Gin-n-tonic too. The bar here is managed by their team of celebrity bartender Zdenek Kastanek, who is assisted by Harish Chhimwal to create a menu with classic martinis and contemporary martinis! The décor and the live bands here take you back to ‘an era of molls and gangsters, of flappers and flamboyance’ and the experience is more than just enchanting!
The menu that I tasted was twisted, tweaked, and crafted by Chef Dhruv Oberoi who is just back after training with the El Bulli fame chef Ferran Adria and Albert adria at the world’s best tapas restaurant ‘Tickets’ in Barcelona. The Cajun-spiked basa was delicious, the slow-cooked lamb goulash with country style bread was simply heavenly, and I have no words for their dessert of churros dunked in chocolate and the baked apple and walnut tart with the mandatory maple drizzle!
It isn’t just the food, the drinks and the ambience that wins you over… just look at the way they connect it all to moments hijacked from the past: ‘The tradition of Speakeasies is rooted in the time of prohibition in the US. They were basically illegal bars which usually had a secret back door entry through dirty alleys, tricky doors and basements and access to which was screened or through passwords. A speakeasy brings to mind a smoky bar with bluesy music, dancing to a jazz combo, aromas of comfort food wafting out from the kitchen and a fun, relaxed celebratory atmosphere. Bars where drinks were served in tea cups and the bar could be hidden at the touch of a button.’ Now, isn’t this simply quixotic enough to make you drool?
This place is simply out-of-the-ordinary and the renowned army of chefs and bartenders here make the experience truly memorable. The taste lingers for quite a while… and one wishes one could be here more often!
Written on 21 February 2013
Published in ‘The Education Post’ dated 23 February 2013