Touted as their ‘Michelin Star Menu’, the latest offer from L’Olivo promises a six course set menu by chef Giorgio Diana of either seafood or meat with 2 glasses for wine for 250dhs. You’d be mad not to right?
We were met at the door by a beaming hostess who efficiently led us through to our table, sadly she was slightly too efficient and skipped the step of offering us a drink at the bar first. Consequently, we were stranded rather unceremoniously in a deserted 1970s restaurant, where the music had yet to be turned on.
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 turn 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.
We opted for one of each menu and vowed to share. Twelve dishes maybe a bit too many to document in detail here so I’ll run you the highlights.
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, but there were no major gripes from me. 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.
On the meat offering was easily one of the best ragouts I’ve had the pleasure to have eaten, rich, meaty, with a soft tomato undercurrent completely devoid of the acidity that can sometimes overpower rage 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 on the meat lover’s menu was 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.
Throughout the meal whilst we’d been enjoying the food, we became increasingly irritated by the service accompanying it. Maybe to make up for the hostesses’ one man show earlier on, we now had every member of staff in the venue tending to us. Only they evidently weren’t communicating this between themselves. Every service step was repeated three to four times a piece, this threw whatever stilting flow there had been to the meal completely off course.
Main courses were a mixed bag, the meat lovers dish was 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. Mine (the fish) wasn’t so much offensive as meh, the overly sweet white chocolate meringue stuck to my teeth unpleasantly whilst the fruity foam underneath made them feel they were about to fall out. For any sweet-toothed customers out there it would most likely have been enjoyable. But the real shambles was S.O’s dessert. Remember the incredible ragout dish from earlier? Yup someone 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. 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