Locally owned restaurants are on the rise, as people want to feel more connected to their surroundings than perhaps a franchise can offer. Independent venues are better suited to create partnerships with other local businesses and possibly stock and use more locally sourced produce. As someone who is interested in food I’m hoping this trend will grow, and we can have more creative and diverse restaurants popping up on our high streets.
Located at the very top of Sheep Street in Northam-pton in the middle of a block of terraces, sits the three-story restaurant Les Olive; a traditional spanish tapas restaurant open since 2009, that believes food should be fresh, simple and delicious.
It’s been a busy week in the office and I can’t think of anything better than going to a restaurant I have fond memories of. The last time I visited Les Olive was five years ago, I’ll be intrigued to see what has changed.
After making a couple of wrong turns we finally arrived at the multi-story car park conveniently located just over the road. It’s been a long time since I was last at this restaurant but as soon as I got through the door it all looked very familiar. Like coming back home to your bedroom after you’ve been at university for 6 months.
The interior is decorated like an old spanish cottage but with a modern twist, beamed ceilings are matched with upcycled floorboards. It makes the room look quaint without it looking old or dated.
We were immediately greeted by a waiter who swiftly took our booking and moved us upstairs to the restaurant area. When we arrived there were only four tables occupied but in Spain 7:30pm is early! We grabbed the last table in front of the windows overlooking the street.
As we were seated I noticed the specials board had only one thing written on it; ‘Tomato Toastada.’ This might have been due to it being a weekday but I would’ve hoped for some more options. Saying that, I couldn’t think of a better starter to kick the evening off.
We hadn’t even glanced at our menus yet and we were already offered some complimentary olives, allowing us to mull over our drink options with something to nibble on. I would usually automatically go for a red wine, but as I had a sneaky peek at the food menu I saw they had a good selection of fish dishes, so white it is then. Summer has finally arrived so I went for the very fruity Sauvignon Blanc, my girlfriend had the Chardonnay, which in hindsight was the better option knowing we were going to have fish.
Looking at the menu there was an abundance to choose from, We wanted a variety of dishes to get a real flavour of what Les Olive has to offer. The waitress recommended we had 3 plates each, as we already knew we wanted the Tomato Tostada we went for Gambas, Empanadillas, Rosario Chorizo, Sardinas and Asparagus.
In true tapas style the food comes out as soon as it’s cooked, after a couple of minutes tucking into the tomato tostada the table is flooded with an array of terracotta plates and inviting looking food
The standout dish for me was the grilled sardines with sea salt, cracked black pepper & marinated in olive oil, presented with a slither of lemon. A simple dish but when cooked well tastes beautiful. Looking over the mountain of food I could see my girlfriend enjoying her empanadillas so much so I had to have a bite. As soon as I bit through the pastry my mouth was introduced to a tangy combination of the feta and spinach.
One of the more senior staff members came over to check if we were happy with our service as our waitress was new, we assured her that we’d had good service and we were happy with all the food so far. A choir of Happy Birthday rung out multiple times throughout the evening. I was slightly jealous as each of them received their homemade cake but I was happy knowing my dessert was yet to come.
I don’t think I have a good poker face. When I started eating my homemade mouse my girlfriend immediately knew I made the better choice, I was more than happy to share if I could pinch a couple of her chorros. The chocolate dipping sauce was very rich but once added to the chorros they complimented each other perfectly.
After the plates were cleaned away we asked for the bill, The waitress offered us a orange based liqueur on the house which we accepted, a fitting example of the difference in service you get compared to a chain. Presented with our liqueurs we enjoyed the rich aroma of the orange that warmed the throat.
As like the other four experiences at the restaurant I’ve had at Les Olive, I enjoyed every single minute of it. They have recreated the feeling of being in an authentic spanish tapas restaurant without it being cliché or tacky. I feel that I will have many more similar experiences at this restaurant in years to come.