Where do you start with a restaurant review? Of course, when I say you, I mean me. Anyway, don’t worry, it’s meant to be rhetorical.
But while I’m in inquisitorial mood, should I start with the food? Perhaps the journey there? Or what the place feels like/what the welcome was like/the service/the strange rugby-ball sized bread they randomly presented us with before the starters even arrived? Any of those take your fancy?
Perhaps, just perhaps, I should comment on the sign they have in the window about them not being able to take card payments “at the moment”, which annoyed me a bit, because “at the moment” has lasted about two years as far as I can tell.
The thing about writing up restaurant reviews is, after you’ve been doing them a while, you don’t want them all to look the same.
That would be boring. For me, of course. But also, more importantly, for you.
Reviews, therefore, like good food or good wine, should have character and depth and continue to surprise you throughout.
Inevitably therefore, the tendency when visiting restaurants is to look for the differences, the ostentatious, the bizarre, the little oddities and incongruences that set them apart.
Occasionally, these anomalies fall into the ‘absurd’ category. Other times, they are just charming and quaint. No matter. ‘Tis my job to seize them and hold them up for closer examination, as an antique dealer does when presented with an unknown object.
So, while I am about to take this approach with Olive & Feta (located on Town Street in Farsley), it doesn’t mean I don’t like the place. I do like it. In fact, I like it a lot. I’ve liked it since it opened. It’s a lovely quaint little shoebox of a restaurant which is a credit to the town and it’s far better than many other places I’ve had the pleasure of dining at.
It is clean, service is usually good, the food is usually better than you expect it to be and because it’s out in the sticks, it is patronized by a discerning clientele, which only adds to its kudos. After all, such places cannot by necessity rely on the passing trade their larger city centre cousins enjoy and therefore, they stand or fall upon their reputation.
But that said, it has it’s quirks.
I was left somewhat bemused by the giant puff bread (Turkish ‘lavas’), which was brought to our table unbidden, although the children enjoyed it. It’s a thin, crusty bread which puffs up with hot steam while cooking and there’s a bit of theatre involved when you first put a knife through it. Served with a small plate of butter, it was the largest amuse bouche I’ve ever seen.
They had no beer on draft when we visited, so I asked for two bottles of Effes (£3.25 each). After that, we dispatched our orders for starters of hummus, (£4.50), olives (£3) and pan fried king prawns in garlic, white wine and flat leaf parsley, served on ciabatta (£5.95). Zero complaints with any of this. I never struggle to eat hummus, in fact I think I could probably live on the stuff if I had to and this has to be some of the best I’ve had. The king prawns (they do a chili version for child-free diners), were gobbled up before I knew it - they were fresh, salty morsels but swam in a tomato sauce rather than white wine, as listed on the menu.
At this point, I am duty bound to mention the first of my niggles, which is to do with service, or lack of. You see, we finished our starters in good time and I was nearing the end of my second Effes and could see the waitress stood by the bar, cleaning cutlery, which is all well and good... unless there are diners waiting and the place is almost empty, which it was, because we arrived just before 6pm and I think there was one other family in besides us.
As anyone with young children will know, half the battle with taking them out is keeping them entertained. Otherwise they just can’t sit still. I’d say it was a good 10 minutes before we were even acknowledged and only then because I caved in and gesticulated.
It wasn’t the last time either - the time elapsed between finishing our mains and finishing dessert was one whole hour, mostly because of a lack of service (the place was packed by then but still…)
Mains included lamb cutlets (£13.50) and linguini polpette (£9.95 on the menu but reduced to £5.50 for the kids version). The lamb was well done but not overdone, the fat nice and crisp; it was served with spiced rice, tzatziki and salad, while the meatballs were good but a little too dense for my liking, giving them a sausage-like texture.
Pudding. Hurray. This turned out to be rom a very short list, mostly involving some form of cake (which is not a bad thing) but the lemon citron tarte was not on, so we ordered cheesecake (£3.95) and chocolate orange cake (£3.95), although we were informed this was the last piece of cheesecake in the building (a serious situation if ever there was one). Both puddings were good, the choc-orange cake being served with ice-cream was the clear winner, though.
The final bill came to £80.62 but owing to some kind of badly explained early bird menu offer, was reduced to £72 in the end. As I said, I wasn’t entirely sure why.
Conclusions: the sign in the window still annoys me. It’s a computer print out and it gives the impression their card machines are temporarily on the blink but this is not the case because it’s been cash only since it opened, so why not just say so? Unless, of course, I am wrong and it just so happens that every time I visit the place, their cash machines are on the blink. Otherwise, it’s a good little restaurant.
Address: 8 Town Street, Farsley LS28 5DB
Tel: 0113 219 5759
Opening times: Sun-Thurs noon-10pm, Fri & Sat noon-10.30pm