The legend of Olive ... Olive Bar Bandra

It is strange for a Bandra food blogger to not have anything on Olive Bar after two years of blogging.

A D Singh's Olive Bar is the mother of all page three haunts. It has successfully spread across the country now. I had been there eons back when we could hardly afford it. I never went to Olive after that. Its neighbour, Out of The Blue , was a big favourite of mine. And remains so.

I suddenly thought of Olive the night we got Princess Leia, our new new car, home. We wanted to go to a place which would match up with the special occasion.
Elegant hues

Olive didn't disappoint us on that count. The place was buzzing on a Tuesday night. There were two large groups including what seemed like a corporate do. The place was full and we had to sit at the bar. Olive was alive. Yet we were some of the youngest folks around! It seemed like an old boys club where most knew each other. The rest were office groups attacking their plates with serious grit and determination.

The music was what is called House Music I think. What I really liked was that we could comfortably speak despite being close to the speakers. They obviously didn't believe in drowning you with decibels at Olive. A rare delight in the world of lounges.

The ambience was nice, light and Mediterranean... white walls, touches of blue, candle lights and lamps. An outdoor section which looked appealing in the cool night and a cosy looking inner section bathed in soft, yellow light.

They made my favoured cocktail of Long Island Ice tea pretty well. The bar was well stocked. The bar man quick and efficient. I decided to follow my 460 Rs ( USD) drink with a cheaper vanilla Smirnoff (Rs 160/ 3 USD for a small measure) for economic reasons.

The food service sucked.

We were shunted from bar guys in black shirts, to stewards in striped shirts to waiters in floral shirts when I wanted to know more about items on the menu. No one could answer my questions which were very basic.

'Salumi Frommage Platter?' Replied with a Mithunda like 'pork hain' (got pork). Mezze Platter? 'Seafood hain' (has sea food).

There was a consistent pattern that followed each of my questions on the menu. The person would go and get someone else who would go and get someone else who would go and get someone else and who would .... The fifth or sixth person would then give the 'Me Tarzan. You Jane' words of wisdom which I just recounted.

See the pictures below and tell me if you can spot the difference between our two starters.

I admit that the cold cuts were divine. Salami, pepperoni, ham, pastrami ... each tasted different and memorable. But two plates of the same? That's not what I had in mind.
The Salumi Frommage platter had six small cubes of excellent cheese, along with the cold cuts. The Mezze platter had a couple of pickled squids and octopus and a repeat of the cold cuts. Not the usual dips or starters and bread which Mezze platters stand for. With no one to advice us on this harsh reality.
I hold the waiters and their ineptitude responsible for this historic blunder. When I am paying upwards of six hundred Rupees (12 USD) a plate then I want someone who knows his job taking my order. Not a wannabe Mithunda.
We had requested to be moved to the outside section after it became empty. No one bothered. I just checked my bill while writing the post and saw that they had charged a service charge. Please let me know if you have A D Singh's number. That's a part of my bill which I want to be reimbursed for. Or I can contribute it to a fund where he can send his staff to the local Shiv Sagar Udipi for lessons on 'service'.
Alls well that ends well
We had a chocolate fondant (Rs 320 / 7 USD) for dessert. Nectar like chocolate sauce oozed out of it when we dug our spoon in. A treat befitting the happy occasion. Princess Leia would have approved. Though I think she is too trim and sleek to be acquainted with chocolate.
The fondant came with what claimed to be a scoop of vanilla ice cream but was actually a tasteless white sorbet.

Bitter sweet memories
In the final analysis Olive is a good place to go to if you want to feel nice and are OK with a bill of Rs 3000 to 5000 (60 to 100 USD).
It is not the place to go if you want a good dining experience AND expect to be pampered OR need to be guided. Given the Neanderthal service quality only a regular at the restaurant, or a food expert, could hope know what to order.
Given the quality of staff they should hire a good writer to make the menu self explanatory. I am sure they could afford it given the horribly overpriced fare.

Olive served out purpose that evening. We felt special. Life seemed beautiful. My compliments to the interior decorator.

I don't see myself going back in a hurry.

Post Script: Mithunda (Mithun Chakraborty) is a Bengali who made it big in the Bollywood kitsch world of the eighties and nineties. He played to the galleries. A man of the masses. Known for his Robin Hood roles, action sequences and disco steps. The characters he would play would typically be that of the neighbourhood goon with a big heart. He would speak in street lingo and slang with a ruffianish accent. A cult figure but not known for finesse.
Not the sort of guy who should be taking orders in a Fine Dining restaurant.


Gaurav said…
Interesting.... while i have never had a similar experience at Olive, i think Bandra is a strict hierarchy where if you are from Bollywood or a regular they treat you well, which is pretty much why i never venture there.

Overall, i think Olive is under immense pressure.. especially after they opened at Mahalaxmi.. it was easy pickings until Tote opened (which not GREAT by any standards is still a cut above Olive)

its begining to show.. however since its not really about the food but about pageantry.. they dont really care.

AD Singh lives at Oomer Park, Warden Road.. near my old Gym. you could hang around there and give him a piece of his mind :)
Kalyan Karmakar said…
Hey Gaurav,

Did you mean Bandra in general or Olive, Bandra. The levels of service at Bandra are as bad or good as in town. The main problem with the staff in Indian restuarants are that they are singularly uninformed about what they serve. It's more an ineptness issue than a hierarchy one.

Places like Out of The Blue or Salt Water Cafe here have at least one or two good guys.

I went to a couple of new places in Calcutta recently which were pleasantly different.

Thanks for the tip. Might plan a Warden Road ambush :)

I had brought up this issue when I interviewed Chef Max. He was the Head Chef at Olive till recently. He said that the main problem is that the waiters are not insterested in or, or inspired by the food they serve. And that comes through. This was a general comment and not Olive specific.


Swastik Rath said…
I agree with your review completely, I absolutely hate Olive. The one time I went there, they mixed up my order, got me something else and insisted that it was my order.
All this after waiting for 45 mins for the food to come. When I sent the dish back, they didnt even bother to get me the correct order nor did they ask if I wanted anything else.

I dont think its lack of interest, they are all wrong choices for the job. Am never going back. all this I would say..u mus visit Olive garden in US if u ever come here..its known for its of the BEST here..
Kalyan Karmakar said…
Harman, that sounds very interesting. Where is it? Part of the same group? The Americas and Africas are places where I am yet to go
Kalyan Karmakar said…
Thanks for writing in Swastik. Time to remind these folks of bajaj scooters and Ambys?
S said…
Haven't been to Olive yet, and based on the post and the comments, will certainly think long and hard before venturing there...except maybe for the chocolate fondant, which looks positively divine!
Kalyan Karmakar said…
As they say S, don't underestimate the Blogerazzi
Scarlett said…
Can't believe I missed this post of yours! Landed here through a random Google search I was doing on Mezze restaurant in Calcutta!! YOU ARE BIG in the food world...LOL :)

Coming to Olive, I went there once with a friend of mine. I remember it only b/c I ran into Salman Khan there & he was very sweet. The food was nothing to die over. Don't remember much of the service since it was a long long time ago, but I don't remember anything undesirable happening either.

But yeah, I totally agree with you! You don't want uninformed, imbecile waiters serving you at such premium places. I can deal with it if I'm going to a cheap/Udipi-style place but not if I'm paying upwards of Rs 500 per person. And even Udipi waiters serve you much better!!
Kalyan Karmakar said…
Hey you to make me yank my collar up with your Gmail search updates.

Mithunda is a sensitive topic in Cal. Hope I don't get stoned by anyone else from your city who stumbles upon the article :)

Salman Khan once walked into Candies when I was there. No fuss. Smiled at everyone. Stood at the counter. Didn't run over anyone
Scarlett said…
I did so many searches yesterday on Kol restaurants & they all kept throwing your posts & pictures!! Every single one of them. You're really big on the food/restaurant scene! :)

BTW..Cal isn't my city. It's yours :)

Re: Salman Khan at Candies - Love your sarcasm ;)
Kalyan Karmakar said…
True Scarlett... Calcutts IS my city.

Wow about the searches. Specially I have hardly written about Cal resturants compared to Bombay ones.

Have I covered all the places that matter. Or are their very few food bloggers writing about Calcutta?

The first is more likely
Anonymous said…
THANK YOU for your posts on these berries.