The O'lives

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

Update: This business has ceased its operations.

One can be easily forgiven for overlooking The O'lives, even though it has been open for a year. This Pulau Tikus restaurant has a rather unassuming facade, but what lies inside is an entirely different story.
The O'lives is a contemporary Western restaurant with elements of Asian cuisine. The chef, who also co-owns the business, has a long career in the culinary line, having worked in many restaurants abroad.
The main dining section of The O'lives can barely accommodate more than 20 customers, but there is additional space upstairs. Up to 40 guests can be comfortably seated.
Besides the à la carte menu, The O'lives offers 3-Course Set Lunch (RM35.00) which runs between 12:00pm and 2:30pm. This set lunch provides diners with choices for the appetizer, main course and dessert. The menu, which is revised every month, is crafted such that it covers a full spectrum of flavors.
Upon placing our order, bread rolls are served. There are two types of rolls: soft roll and hard-crust roll. The bread feels fresh because it is specially prepared by a local bakery on daily basis. On the side is some salted butter, which makes the rolls more delectable.
There are several choices for appetizers, one of which is Fresh Made Soup. Today's soup is the tomato soup with a drizzle of basil oil. Made in-house, the soup presents an appetizing sense of tanginess, but in a rather subtle and elegant way. With herbal aroma from basil oil, the soup is a perfect way to start our appetite engine.
Apart from soup, Our Mesclun Salad is an alternative starter course. Made of romaine lettuce, almond flakes, raisins, cherry tomatoes and pickled capers (flower buds), the salad is flavored with light vinaigrette dressing. The word "mesclun" is the French term of salad made from assorted leafy vegetables.
For additional RM5.00, the Salmon Carpaccio is a yet another choice for appetizer. This Italian-inspired dish is made from raw salmon, cut to thin sliced and drizzled with passion fruit vinaigrette and tarragon oil. Garlic butter croutons provide scrumptious crispiness to this raw dish. Thanks to the fatty texture of the fish, the Salmon Carpaccio is highly recommended.
Moving on to the main course, Seared Chicken Thigh is the poultry choice this noon. The most appealing aspect of this dish is the lovely crisp of the skin, which does a great job in sealing the natural jus underneath it. The sauce is made from Pinot noir, a type of red wine derived from grapes.
Crumbled cheese is served to impart additional flavor, although I think the Pinot noir glaze itself is sufficient for this role. Sautéed corn is also provided. Personally, I feel that asparagus or carrots provides better aesthetic to the overall presentation. The poultry dish can also benefit from these sweeter vegetables.
The Rack Of Lamb is one of the chef's signature dishes. Served in length of 2 ribs, the lamb rack features a succulent layer of fat above the lean meat surrounding the ribs. Although the presence of fat seems peculiar, it is vital to give pleasant mouthfeel.
The dish is served with lamb jus with a hint of red wine. Served on the side are asparagus, sautéed baby corn and small serving pomme purée. Pomme purée is similar to mashed potatoes, but it is usually denser and more buttery than the latter. The Rack Of Lamb is available for RM65.00 on top of the regular price.
Another delightful choice for main course is Salmon Fillet, although I would advise against this if you have picked the Salmon Carpaccio as your appetizer. Nevertheless, this mouth-watering dish is delightfully delicious in its own right.
The salmon is served with nicely-prepared tartar sauce made from dill cream, presenting mint-like cooling sensation in the mouth. A light sprinkle of tarragon oil on the side provides desired aroma, while pomme purée and asparagus serve to provide balanced flavor to the overall dish.
The salmon flesh boasts smooth, juicy red flesh which makes every bite more gratifying than the one before. Of special mention is the crispy salmon skin, which I feel also places a crucial role in the overall enjoyment of this dish.
Moving on to pasta, O'lives Aglio-Olio is a dish not to be trifled with. Although aglio-olio is bread and butter in contemporary Western cuisine, nice ones are unfortunately few and far in between. The O'lives' is among the rare ones.
Skillfully prepared with white wine for the aromatic appeal, petite pieces of smoked pork bacon are used to provide mild saltiness. Black olives, garlic, grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and chopped parsley all contribute to the overall flavor of this pasta dish. In terms of spiciness, this dish is right in the middle of the spectrum, making it acceptable for most diners.

The dessert of the day is Crème Brûlée. The custard is made from actual vanilla sticks, not vanilla essence as in the case of most restaurants. Moisture of the vanilla custard is sealed by a transparent layer of caramelized sugar on top.
As the finishing touch, a piece of fresh strawberry is placed on top the sugary glaze to provide aesthetic appeal.
The O'lives provides a modest range of drinks, ranging from coffee to juices, cocktails to house-poured wines. A mainstream choice is the non-alcoholic O'lives Sunrise (RM18.00), made from orange juice, lemons and ginger ale. This drink features a delicate balance between fizzy and fruity sensations.
The White Sangria (RM35.00) is an alcoholic beverage made from green apples, oranges, lemons and a minuscule amount of white wine. The fruits are allowed to ferment briefly in the mixture, such that the fruity aroma blends harmoniously with light alcoholic fumes.
Meanwhile, the non-alcoholic Honeymoon (RM18.00) is a rather "fun" drink to enjoy. Made from strawberry, apple and orange juices, the mixture is sweetened with some honey to present cool, soothing sensation as the fruity drink trinkles down the throat.
Last but not least, the Strawberry Shandy (RM22.00) is yet another showcase of assimilating fruits with alcohol. Besides strawberries and white wine, some lemon juice is also used.
As a small restaurant with a regular clientele, The O'lives is able to customize dining experience according to each individual's preference. Upon request, most dishes can be modified to meet specific dietary needs such as vegetarianism.
In the evening, 4- and 5-course dinners are also available from 6:30pm to 10:00pm. Despite the level of ambience and impeccable waiting service, the pricing at The O'lives is surprisingly affordable compared to other restaurants of equivalent prestige.

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
Coordinates: 5.43292 N, 100.31136 E
Directions: From Bellisa 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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