Take a look at the indulgent and delicious seven course tasting menu at the Michelin starred Olive Tree restaurant in Bath.
Enjoying fine dining is a wonderful way to spend an evening. And recently I was lucky enough to be invited to spend an evening at one of Bath’s finest restaurants – the Olive Tree at the Queensberry Hotel.
Under chef Chris Cleghorn, the Olive Tree is turning out phenomenal food with an emphasis on high quality seasonal produce.
And the excellence at the Olive Tree was recently recognised when it received its first Michelin star in 2018. It is currently the only Michelin starred restaurant in Bath.
I was recently invited to try out the ‘Seven’ tasting menu, which as you might expect, comprises seven delicious courses. There’s also a ‘Five’ menu if you prefer, as well as gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan menus.
If you don’t want to try out the full tasting menu, you can pick out two or three individual courses to be served in a more traditional A la Carte style.
There’s also an accompanying wine flight to go with each tasting menu, but I was sticking to mineral water on the night that I visited.
I was shown to my table by Jake, the maitre d’ for the evening, and two small amuse-bouches were soon brought to my table.
The first was a crisp morsel of chicken skin with a cream topping. It was full of savoury, umami goodness and absolutely delicious.
The second was a cheese profiterole made of dreamy light choux pastry with a rich truffled cream filling. The flavours lingered on the palette, and certainly filled me with anticipation for the seven courses to come!
The Olive Tree is quite an intimate restaurant with only a small number of tables. It was fully booked on the night that I visited and the room had a relaxed ambience, with mellow music playing in the background, and the hub-bub of people chatting.
The staff were friendly and attentive, taking prompt care of the diners’ needs.
Meanwhile, I really wanted more of that chicken skin appetizer…
First Course: Scallops
The first course proper in this seven course tasting menu featured raw slivers of Orkney scallop sitting on gently cooked slices of leek. Mushroom ketchup sat at the side, and nasturtiums on top.
The dish was placed in front of me and a seaweed tea was poured over it with a flourish. I do love a bit of theatre at the table, so this delighted me!
The leeks were cooked beautifully, and didn’t overpower the sweet Orkney scallops at all. This was the first time I’ve tried scallops raw, and they were utterly delicious.
By the time I finished this course, the restaurant was full and the atmosphere was gently buzzing.
This is a very relaxed fine dining experience, with lighting that was dimmed but not too low. I loved the muted shades of grey in the decor, and the modern furniture.
Second Course: Pasta
My first plate was whisked away and soon replaced by a striking black pasta dish, filled with tagliatelle.
The ribbons of pasta were topped with finely grated 36 month aged pamesan, and shavings of black truffle. And the dish was finished with a rich white wine sauce added at the table.
The pasta was cooked perfectly, and the sweet truffle contrasted perfectly with the rich, intense flavour of the parmesan.
This was a stunning dish, full of very moreish flavours, especially that fabulous parmesan. It is a staple part of the Seven tasting menu, with the truffle changing with the seasons
Once I’d finished every last morsel of this delicious course, my plate was taken away. The courses were appearing at a fairly leisurely pace, which would make it perfect for a special occasion or romantic evening.
This part of the meal was not listed on the menu, but what a treat it was.
A treacle and rye roll, still warm from the oven, was presented with a pat of clotted cream butter alongside. Inside the crispy crust of the roll, the bread was tender and delicious.
But that butter…oh, my mouth waters just thinking of that butter even now. It was rich, decadent, full of flavour. A very indulgent treat even amongst the many delights in this special menu.
Third Course: Fish
Next up was the fish course, which was a beautiful piece of brill sitting on a bed of lightly cooked Hispi cabbage, and topped with crispy brown shrimp. Baby turnips and dots of yuzu surrounded the dish, and a white wine sauce was poured over.
The flavours and textures in this dish were amazing. There were earthy turnips, fresh tender cabbage, and the sweet brill flaking perfectly. The shrimp added a contrast of texture, and then there was that sharp hit of flavour from the yuzu.
Fourth Course: Meat
On to the next course, which was beautifully tender Fallow deer, cooked perfectly medium-rare. The meat was so tender, that I could practically have cut it with a spoon.
A small pile of grated bitter chocolate, BBQ cauliflower, artichoke puree, Brussel sprouts and golden raisins all accompanied the meat. And the dish was completed with a rich jus.
The cauliflower was an absolute revelation, it was packed so much flavour, quite unlike any cauliflower I’ve eaten before. Everything was very savoury, then the sweet golden raisins offering a flash of sweet lightness.
I found myself eating this course with a smile on my face. There was so much flavour, it was almost but not quite overwhelming. It was an exceptional plate of food.
Incidentally, I was drinking mineral water with my meal, but Jake informed me that the red wine selected to accompany this dish has notes of cigar smoke and chocolate. Doesn’t that sound fabulous?
Half way through the meal and already feeling quite full, I was glad that I only had to walk to the lift at the end of the night.
Fifth Course: Cheese
But the next course was such a contrast, that it reinvigorated me and left me ready for the remainder of the tasting menu.
Tunworth cheese was served gently seared and melting on a thin slice toast. Tunworth is a British cheese, soft and white rinded, similar in style to Camembert. It has a rich, nutty flavour, which was heightened by the heat of the grill, but then tempered by the sweet pear puree alongside.
This delicate course definitely left me wanting more!
Sixth Course: Mango
The first of two dessert courses was a mango cream topped with thin slices of magic and a perfect miniature ball of coconut ice-cream rolled in toasted coconut.
Crunchy little meringues were dotted around the dish, and the sharp yuzu puree stopped the sugary sweetness of the dessert from becoming cloying. To my mind, yuzu and mango together is a recipe for sheer heaven.
I was nearly tempted to lick the plate…
Seventh Course: Chocolate
But somehow, the final course was even better.
The richest chocolate ganache I have ever tasted was topped with a wonderfully light yoghurt sorbet. Sea salt cut through the richness of the chocolate, while sliced green olives add a light fruitiness.
And an amazing olive oil was drizzled around the dish to release its light fragrant aroma. The combination of olives and chocolate tastes amazing together, you feel like it shouldn’t work, but it really does.
It’s an intriguing dish and a fabulous end to this seven course tasting menu.
Coffee, Petit Fours and a Chat with the Chef
My meal was rounded off with an excellent cup of coffee and some petit fours. Hazelnut chocolate was filled with a luscious salted caramel, and white chocolate surrounded a sharp/sweet raspberry coulis.
I was joined by Chef Chris Cleghorn who came to chat with me at the end of another successful service.
Chris is justifiably proud of the Olive Tree’s Michelin star. He’s worked hard to get to that level, and feels that the restaurant has recently taken a step up. Chris loves the relaxed atmosphere of the restaurant, and the reputation it has under its own name, not just as the restaurant at the Queensberry Hotel.
He said that his aim is to to let the excellent quality of the ingredients shine through, and local provenance is very important.
Obviously he has to ship in Orkney scallops as there isn’t a local alternative, but the brill is shipped directly from Cornwall, and the deer and duck on the menu are locally sourced.
Chris is a perfectionist so dishes take time to.perfect, and every element has to be just right. The menu evolves throughout the year, rather than changing abruptly as a season comes to an end.
So when the beef tartare returns to the menu in the spring, it will be accompanied by Exmoor caviar. Parsley mayonnaise will add freshness and enhance the flavour of the caviar, as well as contrasting with the earthiness of beef tartare.
Chris is really lovely – very friendly and obviously passionate about his work. It was a pleasure to meet him and hear about the inspiration behind this fabulous restaurant.
The Olive Tree: My Review
This was a seriously exceptional meal. Every element of every course was cooked perfectly, and the combinations of flavours and textures were sublime.
The ‘Seven’ tasting menu costs £85 with the accompanying wine flight costing £57.50 for six specially selected glasses of wine.
Now, this is obviously an expensive meal, and not something that you would indulge in every week. But the Olive Tree is the perfect place to go for a special occasion or celebratory meal, or to treat someone special.
I’d go so far as to say that it’s worth planning a trip to Bath just to pay a visit to the Olive Tree!
The Olive Tree: The Details
The Olive Tree