The O'lives

Special thanks to The O'lives for extending this food review invitation.

Despite a change of management since my previous visit, The O'lives has been given a new lease of life with the appointment of Chef Ryan at the helm of the kitchen crew. Trained in European culinary arts, Ryan is refocusing the restaurant's menu towards Mediterranean-style cuisine, featuring northern French-, Italian- and Turkish-influenced dishes.
The new menu approaches fresh ingredients in a more holistic manner, taking advantage of their natural flavors instead of wantonly relying on heavy seasoning. Typical of Mediterranean and French cuisine, The O'lives makes liberal use of extra-virgin olive oil as well as foie gras oil in many of its exquisite dishes. As for food presentation, landscape plating is the key at The O'lives.
From 14 December 2015 to 1 January 2016, The O'lives offers a Christmas menu for 7-course meal. Priced from RM118.00, the menu takes diners on a gastronomical experience through a series of meticulously-crafted delicacies. For an additional RM100.00, the meal includes pairing with Chilean wines from Cono Sur Tocornal.
The restaurants starts the culinary adventure with bread with truffle butter. I love the gratifying aroma and buttery consistency of the spread.
Waldorf Salad serves as starter for the 7-course meal. This salad traces its origin to Waldorf Hotel in New York over 100 years ago. Made from garden greens, Fuji apples, pecan nuts and wild mint, the salad is dressed with apple purée and walnut oil. Carrots and raisins coulis are included on the side.
At the center stage is a piece of brittle crêpe, masterfully prepared using foie gras and duck oil. The crêpe manifests itself as a lovely treat of unparalleled aroma.
Next, The O'lives Trio serves as amuse-bouche. Amuse-bouche is an interlude dish which literally means "mouth amuser" in French. This bite-size dish is meant to provide diners a glimpse of the chef's artistic direction. The O'lives Trio is paired with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.
Towards one end of the plate are three exquisite delicacies of diverse flavors. Goat cheese chantilly presents a distinctive sense of savoriness which sets it apart from cattle's milk. Next, black olive tapenade tantalizes the palate with saltier sensation. Meanwhile, the tangy tomato crumble is made from sun-dried tomatoes and pecorino cheese derived from sheep milk.
The most aesthetically-pleasing component of The O'lives Trio is the olive oil bonbon. Made possible only in the hands of a skillful chef and the science of molecular gastronomy, extra virgin olive oil is encapsulated in brittle sugary glaze.
There is no absolutely correct way to enjoy the bonbon, so this leaves creative freedom on the diner's part. Personally, I think it makes most sense to break the sugar glass over the bread, such that the bread soaks some olive oil as the latter leaks out of the encapsulation. The plate also includes a drizzle of buttery pistachio sauce for added flavor.
As for appetizer, the guest is treated with Pan Grilled Duck Liver. Paired with Sauvignon Blanc, the foie gras is seasoned with reduced apple cider sauce.
The buttery liver presents heavenly appeal within every bite. Although foie gras is traditionally made from goose liver, duck liver has become increasingly more acceptable lately.
Served just across the liver is an apple and blackcurrant tart, topped with balsamic vinegar pearls. The pearls represent another pinnacle in molecular gastronomy.
Moving on to soup, the French-inspired Cream Of Chestnut And Ceps presents rich, nutty consistency which is rather filling. Fortunately, the serving size is kept in check before the soup becomes surfeiting. Besides water chestnut and mushrooms, the soup contains chicken stock, caramelized onion and leek. Foie gras oil is used to accentuate the myriad of flavors. This soup is best paired with Chardonnay white wine.
Another interlude brings us to the Raspberry Sorbet, a palate cleanser before the main dish.
There are four choices for the main dish, three of which are featured today. Pacific Salmon Fillet features a special concoction of saffron aioli, emitting lovely scent of olive oil and garlic. The thick fillet slab is delectable to say the least. On the side are several pieces of vegetable tourne. This dish is to be paired with Chardonnay.
Meanwhile, the Grilled Rack Of Lamb (supplement RM75.00) is dressed with whisky sauce. This dish takes creative license in fusion cuisine through the use of ground nutmeg. The two strips of lamb ribs rest over mashed potatoes, and are flanked on all sides by vegetable tournes. The lamb is paired with Merlot for the best effect.
Steak lovers should not pass the opportunity to indulge the 100 Days Grain Fed Australian Rib Eye Steak (supplement RM65.00). This hearty portion of beef is seasoned with lovely gravy made from purple carrot purée and mushrooms jus. The recommended wine to go with the steak is Cabernet Sauvignon.
Medium rare (à point) cooking provides the best path in enjoying premium beef. As the muscle layers remain pink from limited heat, they retain most jus which is exactly why the beef is so appealing. In fact, I am starting to shift my preference over from medium to medium rare.
At the conclusion of the meal is a dessert which varies from day to day. At this point, most diners should have exhausted any remaining stomach space after seven rounds of wine and dine.
The O'lives Christmas menu is paired with exquisite Chilean wines produced by Cono Sur Tocornal. The red wines are Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Personally, I feel that Merlot works best with my palate as it carries a mild tone of fruity sweetness.
As for white wines, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are the two choices available. The Chardonnay gives relatively mild flavor with subtle citrus aftertaste. On the other hand, the Sauvignon Blanc has more pronounced flavor than the former.
Wines that are poured in parallel with the Christmas menu are supplied by Hermiu, an online portal with thousands of wines from all around the world. Hermiu provides next-day delivery service throughout the nation.
Name: The O'lives
Address: 19, Lintang Burma, 10250 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-227-8811
Business hours: 12:00pm-3:00pm, 6:30pm-10:00pm, closed on Sundays
Website: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Olives-Restaurant/277234972486461
Coordinates: 5.43292 N, 100.31136 E
Directions: From Belissa Row, drive along the one-way Burmah Road (Jalan Burma). Right after Bee Cheng Hiang (美珍香) on the left, turn left into Lintang Burma. The O'lives is one of the last shops on the left, on the same row as The Wine Shop. Street parking is available along Lintang Burma and along the service road of Burmah Road. There is also a private parking lot at the end of Lintang Burma.

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