The Olive Tree Restaurant beneath The Queensberry Hotel has long been the haunt of those-in-the-know. But now it’s got its long overdue Michelin star, the word’s out of the basement and hit the streets, writes Rosanna Rothery
Crafty foodies were reluctant to tip off even their BFF about Chris Cleghorn’s superb five or seven course menus. But since the head chef’s newly acquired Michelin kudos they’re going to have to learn to share – and book well in advance.
VISIT for champion ingredients matched with creativity. The same pared-back elegance Coco Chanel achieved for fashion, Cleghorn is doing for food. There’s no excessive showing off here: each ingredient on the plate exudes a singular finesse while offsetting the whole edible ensemble.
Locally procured eel, veal, fallow deer and truffles would meet anyone’s luxury brief but when Cleghorn applies one of his ingenious mind trips they’re turned into utter marvels.
Bitter dark chocolate contrasts with the sweetness of yielding venison and is elevated by jerusalem artichoke, kale and elderberries. Similarly, the smoky, earthy flavours of a starter of cheese and eel – so tender you could weep – are lent zingy freshness with the addition of apple, lovage and celeriac.
DON’T VISIT without having a sensible plan on how you’re going to get home. It’s nigh on impossible not to fall under the spell of restaurant manager Roman Vidal’s grape escape stories: anecdotes and samples of outstanding wine and sake from across the globe, matched with each ingenious dish.
We’d recommend staying in one of the luxurious (ours had a roll top bath, DAB radio and prodigious shower space) yet delightfully individual rooms above. The hotel is a blend of traditional Georgian Bath beauty (sash windows and antique fireplaces) with quirky irreverence (check out The Queensberry Rules, a wry take on the Marquess of Queensberry’s 1865 boxing code).
WE LIKED the inclusive nature of the dining experience – the vibe is relaxed, while service is spot-on. Another win is that vegans and vegetarians get their own tasting menus; they’re so good you’ll need to resist the urge to barge into the kitchen and demand the recipe for the barbecued cauliflower macaroni with sea beet, cheddar and hen of the woods. (Now that would make a sumptuous smoky alternative to the Christmas Day turkey).