When Olive first opened, I was unsure. With the stripy seating it looked more coffee shop than city bar to me. However, it did become a firm favourite. Its cocktails and beer garden ensured that it was often included in any night out.
Along with the coffee shop feel, it had a menu that was neither reliable nor consistent and Olive shut its doors for the last time on Christmas Eve 2010.
Thanks to the owners of the Bowery, life was soon re-injected into the place around April this year. Living very close by, I watched carefully as the unit transformed from coffee shop-esque bar to the cool and funky space that it now is. The Great Gatsby was born!
Seating is much more eclectic with the odd dining table in there along with comfy sofas and a rather elegant chaise lounge. And it’s not just the furniture that will catch your eye. Drinks are served in beautiful glassware, thanks to a few shopping trips to various Oxfam shops, I am told.
Check out the till too. Forget the swanky electronic touch screen, this is a proper traditional till. Rather than simply point at drinks on a screen, staff have to remember the prices of drinks and calculate the bill themselves. Rather them than me!
Already, The Great Gatsby is establishing itself as a place to be. The beer (or beard) garden is still there, the cocktails are as excellent as ever and they are experimenting with the food side of things too.
Gav and I managed to give their New World menu a whirl over the weekend. On first sight the menu, which is chalked up on a blackboard rather than printed up as they ‘change the menus daily’, looks disappointingly short. But upon closer inspection, I spotted about 4/5 dishes I would have been quite happy with.
In the end I went for a lamb wrap with mini jacket potatoes (£6 I think) and a carrot salad (£2). Gav went for mackerel fish cakes and baked eggs with peppers (£4 each).
Dishes arrived and we were instantly wowed by the presentation. Ok slates as plates is probably a dated concept (and one that highly annoys Gav as the sound of cutlery against the slate really goes through him) but there was clearly some effort put into the presentation of each dish.
My lamb wrap was delicious; packed with spicy (but not hot) flavours and juicy, succulent lamb. I was especially pleased to see that the wrap looked home made; something I wouldn’t expect at lunch in a city bar, certainly not at the prices we were paying anyway. Mini jackets were topped with crème fraiche and were a nice addition to the dish, making a change to the standard chunky chips often served with wraps.
However the carrot salad was a triumph! Grated carrot with sliced dried apricots (who’d have thought it?!), black mustard seeds and herbs (possibly mint). Fresh and tasty and full of healthy goodness it was amazing; truly amazing!
Gav was equally happy with his lot. Mackerel fish cakes were packed full of smoked fish. The casing was a fine breadcrumb crust; golden brown and free of any oil or grease. There were three nicely sized cakes too, so a decent serving at £4 a pop.
Baked eggs was an interesting one. The dish was served in a little frying pan and the two eggs appeared to have simply been baked away with the selection of peppers which surrounded them. Some salad had also been added to the cooked dish before serving.
I liked the simplicity of it and having this dish served in a frying pan added to the easy feel of both the food and the bar itself.
Service was good. Staff are friendly and welcoming; chatty without being interfering or annoying. The chap behind the bar was especially keen to see that we enjoyed our food and looked rather pleased with himself when I told him that the salad was bloody gorgeous.
Well, they should be pleased with themselves. Good food, good cocktails and a good vibe to the place will keep me and many others coming back. Just keep it up guys!
P.s Apologies for the pics – we were using Gav’s camera phone.