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|Address:||10 Lower Belgrave Street, London SW1W 0LJ|
|Tel:||020 7730 9022|
|Price: £51.00||Wine: £21.50||Champagne: £42.50|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Sun 12N-2.30pm (Sat-Sun -3pm) Mon-Sun 7-11pm (Sun -10.30pm)|
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If first impressions count, then things were not encouraging at Olivomare. Fortunately, however, the experience got markedly better and the food was indeed superb and a return visit justified. Admittedly our reservation was for midday, but arriving at three minutes to the hour, I certainly did not expect to see the restaurants’ chefs sitting on the steps puffing away on cigarettes in full view of prospective diners. Like my mother, my first thought was, I do hope they wash their hands before they start preparing our food… Message to the restaurant: if your employees have to smoke, then make them do it in a less public location. On entering, the interior of the restaurant felt decidedly sparse (notwithstanding the absence of diners), almost clinical in appearance and dominated by a garish pescine mural (per the restaurant’s name) all along one wall. We were lucky not to have to endure this though, since our reservation was for a table outside, which afforded wonderful people-watching opportunities, positioned to observe the denizens of Belgravia from our privileged location. Make no mistake, the food IS the main event here, the premise being a distinct emphasis on fresh ingredients used in dishes prepared to a high level of perfection. My dining comrade was a relative regular here and spoke highly of the menu. While he opted for his usual dishes, I had the luxury of perusing an almost totally fish-dominated menu (this is the idea; and there is another restaurant within the ‘Olivo’ mini-chain that operates the same principle with regard to meat; there is also a deli and a pizza place). My starter of sliced cured tuna with green beans and sundried tomatoes was beautifully presented with well-matched flavours. The main of crab meat linguine with garlic, chilli and fresh parsley was among the best I have had, with the latter ingredients being perfectly balanced. My comrade was similarly effusive about his dishes and I did look on somewhat enviously at his baked sea bass with black olives. We did not partake in wine, but the bill was still reasonable (at least by Belgravia standards).