Being stranded rather unceremoniously by a brisk hostess, in a deserted 1970s restaurant, in which the music has yet to be turned on. Is exactly how I wish all of my evenings to begin, in fact, I’ll be returning to L’Olivo again over the coming nights in order to sit awkwardly at a corner table admiring the faux stone cold walls and repurposed office chairs. I love a bloody office chair.
After the same hostess presented out menus and left again we began to feel rather unwelcome, with no drink offer and no drinks menu having been set on the table we had the distinct impression we’d caught them off guard, despite the fact we were booked.
We had yet to see another member of staff, so when the hostess loomed past again we flagged her down and ordered two negronis, this was met with a blank stare, so again we repeated. after a brief explanation of what said drink is composed of our hostess turned on her heel for the bar. To our surprise she then went behind it and began mixing our drinks. you know, the ones, she had never heard of. Needless to say they were terrible negronis, watery, with an odd strawberry aftertaste, they tasted like they’d been made by someone who had never seen one before. Oh wait.
Around half way through our god-awful cocktails someone remembered to turn the music on, then more customers began arriving (seated and served also by just the one hostess/waitress/barmaid) it was a further 10 minutes before an actual waiter appeared, along with a suited restaurant manager. Still no barman we noted.
Amuse bouche was picture perfect plate, vibrant rocket sponge, creamy salmon mousse and angelic little slices of white scallop, the flavors were on point if not ever so slightly imbalanced in flavor of the salmon. The tortellini stood out on the fish menu. Superbly made pasta, a rich salty seafood filling, surrounded by a sauce with the just the right amount of acidity to leave the diner feeling sated but not overwhelmed.
A Ragout of rich, meaty, gumption with a soft tomato undercurrent completely devoid of the acidity that can sometimes overpower ragout sauces, one could taste the hours it had been cooking and the love with which it had been tended. Nonna eat your heart out. Elsewhere, a roasted quail breast with a knock out beef jus and root puree that had the European winter Game season summed up in one bite. The only let down here was the quail had just slipped over into chewy.
Main courses were a mixed bag, a fillet steak cooked to medium rare perfection, sous-vide first and then seared, it bought new depths to ‘melt in the mouth’. Sadly, it was let down by the random mismatch of vegetables accompanying it, seemly as an afterthought. I’ve little to say about the fish option other than it was the most perfect example of why Hamachi and vanilla DO NOT belong together, vile.
Things really took a turn for the worse with dessert. Overly sweet white chocolate meringue wasn’t so much offensive as meh, it stuck to the teeth unpleasantly whilst the fruity foam underneath made them feel they were about to fall out. The real shambles remained to be endured. Remember the incredible ragout dish from earlier? Some heathen beyond the kitchen door had added unsweetened cacao powder to it, and they’d added a lot. The result was an upsetting concoction that tasted akin to a disappointing health food version of a popular dessert, made with misery and despair. Neither sweet enough for dessert nor savory enough to be a main, the cacao had instead masked all the other flavors in the dish to create a bland, powdery abomination. with berries.
Dessert aside, it’s obvious that some one in that kitchen knew what they were doing, it is however a great shame that the same can’t be said for anyone front of house. Food that peaked and troughed was most certainly marred by badly organized wait staff, no apparent direction in the restaurant and dreary 1970s surroundings. Cafe Nero style pseudo-rustic Italian canvas and tragic on table lamps do not a restaurant maketh. I’ll be perfectly honest; if that had been Michelin prices, I mightn’t have agreed to pay.
Rixos The Palm Dubai, Lobby Level, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai
+971 4 457 5454