Over the four fabulous years I’ve lived (and eaten) in Leeds The Olive Tree restaurant in Chapel Allerton has made its way firmly to the top of my list of favourite places to eat. The fact I used to live just around the corner from this compact but gorgeous Greek eatery undoubtedly gave it a good leg up the ladder, but the consistently great menu, generous portions and value for money have helped it keep its position and made it more than deserving of a ‘proper’ review.
The Olive Tree is one of those places that is so reliably good that you want to share it with everyone, which is why I found myself there early on a Friday evening a few weeks ago introducing yet another Leeds friend to my favourite find. The restaurant is of course by no means a hidden secret – it’s been the only Greek restaurant to make the Good Food Guide for the past four years, but because it’s a little out of town, those who live in the city centre can sometimes miss out if they’re not giving a little push in its direction.
So, having a convenient excuse to be there and being in possession of a tastecard that promised 50 per cent off the food bill, I set to work greedily ordering my favourite Greek dishes. Service can be a bit rushed at times at the Olive Tree (probably because they are so busy) and as I’ve come to expect this I’d set my heart on the Whitebait (£5.95) followed by the Arni me Feta (£15.95), long before I’d set my foot through the door – nevermind when the waitress came promptly to take our order. My dining partner went for a double whammy of lamb with Keftedes (£5.85) and Kleftiko (£14.95) and we selected a side of spinach with mint and garlic (£2.45) and a nice bottle of red.
During our very brief wait for starters to arrive we were presented with some warmed pitta slices, which we tried not to yum up all at once, as from past experience I knew I would need to save space for my hearty main course. When starters arrived my high expectations were once again met – the Whitebait was light and crisp and the tiny fish plentysome and not at all greasy. The fish was served with a refreshing Tzatziki and lemon slice – tasty and simple. The meatballs my fellow diner had opter for were declared the ‘best’ he’d ever tasted and the standards for our tasty mains were thus set.
The smell of the lamb mains were a delight for our meat-mad senses and we tucked in to the cinnamon, oregano and garlic fragranced joints in near silence. As forks were inserted, the meat compliantly dropped away from the bone, it was moist and utterly mouthwatering and the hint of cinnamon was perfectly complemented by my salty feta and slightly sweet salsa.
As has unfortunately become fairly routine on my trips to the Olive Tree, I was unable to finish my main course – though it’s worth knowing that if you do find finishing a struggle the staff will give you some tubs to take away any leftovers. I’m yet to sample the desserts – savoury fiend that I am I always opt for a starter. Still, it’s something to aim for as I’m sure I’ll find another excuse to go back soon!