Tuesday, 10 January 2012
Lunch with my family provided the perfect opportunity to visit The Sweet Olive in the small village of Aston Tirrold. A classic country pub it is known locally for having some of the best grub in the area.
The first thing you see as you walk into the pub is a chalk board highlighting some of the local producers. Game and several other goodies come from the village. I didn't realise Aston was so productive!
The second thing you can't help but notice is the French influence. From the accents behind the bar to the wine boxes stuck to the wall.
We were given some complimentary bread and olives to nibble on while we made our selections from the menu. I initially thought the slab of butter was a piece of cheddar to looked so crumbly and open in texture. I really enjoyed the marinated olives.
The menu is on a small chalk board in the corner of the dining room. There were around ten specials which our waiter explained to us. It proved quite a challenge to remember everything. They could have done with a bigger chalk board or perhaps some printed menus.
From the specials menu dad chose the Tapas plate as a starter (I was saving room for dessert). A selection of salami, pesto, fried goats cheese, smoked salmon, rocket salad, lamb samosa, toast and a couple of others that I can't remember! I enjoyed the slice of peppery salami that I snuck from dad's plate.
I ordered the intriguing Nepalese pheasant curry, also from the specials menu. I thought the dish must have been a novel invention, but a quick Internet search tells me that pheasant is the most popular game bird in Nepal.
I enjoyed the lightly spiced curry which provided a great balance between the gamey pheasant and aromatic spices.
It was a very generous serving of pheasant, I must have had a whole bird. Including a little bit of lead shot, just to prove it was wild.
Three of the four main courses we ordered came with the same mixed medley of vegetables. Very early 90's and, I thought, slightly naff for a gastropub.
The French aren't known for accommodating vegetarians and there was only one veggie starter on the entire menu. They made a main course size Goats cheese parcel for my sister. The rich goats cheese was served inside a filo parcel with caramelised onions.
It was tasty for the first few bites but then turned into a cheese bomb. The goats cheese was just so rich, especially for a main course.
For dessert I chose the Lemon Cheesecake, Raspberry Coulis and Mango & Passion Fruit Sorbet. The tart sorbet and coulis helped cut through the dense cheesecake. When the plate arrived I thought it was an enormous amount of of blood red coulis, but it turned out to be the perfect amount. If I'm splitting hairs I prefer a lighter textured cheesecake.
Having ordered almost exclusively from the specials menu I wasn't quite sure what the bill would be. I was pleasantly surprised to see that all the main courses were under £14 ($20).
I thought the food was a bit more deluxe home cooking than true gastropub. That probably goes down better with the locals who are certain to approve of the local producers and reasonable prices. As long as you aren't a vegetarian that is.