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Restaurant review - The Olive Tree Brasserie, Preston

PUBLISHED: 00:00 07 September 2015 | UPDATED: 16:33 24 October 2015

Interior of Olive Tree Brasserie

Interior of Olive Tree Brasserie

Archant

The Olive Tree Brasserie is branching out in Preston. Emma Mayoh reports

Halloumi LoukanikoHalloumi Loukaniko

For a long time the Miller Arcade building in Preston has been taken for granted. Every day scores of people walk past it in Church Street, many of whom possibly don’t acknowledge the charms of its wonderful architecture.

That is surely something that would have its designer, Nathaniel Miller, throwing up his arms in disgust. He modelled the building on London’s Burlington Arcade, Britain’s first indoor shopping mall, and still regarded as one of the most beautiful in the country.

The Miller Arcade is certainly a jewel in Preston’s crown but since I first moved to the city more than ten years ago there has been a high turnover of businesses as people again neglected to cross its threshold.

But things are changing. There has recently been a renewed interest in the building, with businesses setting up there. There are also proposals for major investment with plans to open up the first floor of the arcade.

Whitebait served with aioliWhitebait served with aioli

Its revival is in no small part due to the lure of the Olive Tree Brasserie, the second Greek dining place in Dean Wilson’s restaurant stable. His other is a much loved place to eat, drink and enjoy entertainment in St Annes on the Fylde Coast. The Preston restaurant was opened last November with a flourish and the number of diners venturing there has not waned since.

The door of the Olive Tree Brasserie was a welcome sight when I visited on a dreary Saturday afternoon. Unlike the more traditional décor of its St Annes cousin and the Victorian splendour of the Miller Arcade’s exterior, the restaurant has a slick, modern and industrial interior.

There is plenty of exposed metal strip lighting, uber contemporary furniture and with a stylish bar area and a polished finish. It’s the kind of place Preston, not usually considered a fine dining destination, needed.

This was proven in the number of people who eat here - on our visit, it was far from quiet. Although not surprising for a Saturday, there was seldom a free table during our time there despite it being outside of traditional lunchtime hours. If you plan on visiting in the evening, make sure you book.

Greek saladGreek salad

The menu is just as packed as the restaurant and it offers a journey around Greece with trademark dishes like arni kleftico and beef stifado as well as some less usual offerings like Gadou, a pan-fried cod dish with potato, vegetable cakes and Lancashire kale.

Such rich and plentiful offerings seemed a little too much for afternoon dining so my guest and I ordered from the lunch menu. It seemed any ideas we had of eating something a little lighter were misguided.

We enjoyed a starter of htipiti, a moreish feta, red pepper and chilli dip served with warm pitta bread. The falafel burger served with cajun spied halloumi cheese and houmous certainly offered a generous portion, as did the sliced piri piri chicken breast ciabatta.

Having willingly thrown concern for our waistlines out of the window after the main course, the portokalopi, a Cretan orange scented custard cake with Greek yoghurt and candied orange peel, was a welcome arrival at our table. Even with a couple of drinks each the bill came to under £50. Money well spent. w

View toward the TerraceView toward the Terrace

The Olive Tree Brasserie, Miller Arcade, Church Street, Preston, PR1 2QY, 01772 825888, www.olivetreebrasserie.co.uk/preston

On the Menu

The Olive Press has a large menu packed with delicious dishes

Starters

Garides saganaki: king prawns, tomato sauce, feta, oregano, £8

Meli feta: honey coated fried feta cheese and figs, £6

Toursi: pickled chicken with Ouzo mayonnaise and Greek yoghurt bread, £6

Spanakopita: filo pastry filled with spinach, leeks, fresh herbs, feta and halloumi

Cheese, tzatziki, £6

Mains

Beef stifado: tender pieces of beef, aromatic spices and rich tomato sauce with Greek style roast potatoes, £17

Gemista: baked beef tomatoes and bell peppers stuffed with rice, nuts,

Greek spices, kolikithia fries, £14

Metaxa kota: chicken breast, Metaxa brandy, mushrooms and cream, herb rice, £20

Lavraki: Sea bass fillets, Ouzo celeriac fennel remoulade, dakos salad, £15

Desserts

Baklava: layers of filo pastry filled with pistachio, walnuts and honey, vanilla ice cream, £4.95

Apple cinnamon kataifi: angel hair filo pastry roll filled with apple, walnuts, cinnamon and honey, pistachio ice cream, £5.50

Greek coffee tiramisu: with greek coffee syrup, £5.50

Portokalopi: A Cretan orange scented custard cake with Greek yogurt and candied orange peel, £5.50

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