Let’s Do Lunch at Olive and Rye

Stan bemoans his lot as a reviewer of food. Olive & Rye is already a favourite, but the quest continues to discover more.

Writing lunch reviews is a really great job except that, with all lines of work, you come across situations which make you wish that you did something else. Over the past couple of years or so I have been lucky in that I have only had to send one meal back because it was inedible and only had a single case of atrocious service. This is not the problem with the occupation; the real downside is that whenever I go into Leeds for lunch I feel as though I have to try somewhere different in order to write an article, which means that I never get a chance to go back to some of the amazing places I have discovered. This week none of that mattered as I was asked to visit an establishment which was as good as any I have previously enjoyed. Olive and Rye is one of the wonderful independent deli restaurants in our great City, a lot of which are springing up in the various arcades, and this one is in Queens.

The menu is original and I was sorely tempted to try the Olive and Rye Breakfast from the brunch section as it contained crispy pork belly, home made black pudding, chorizo beans, grilled tomato, free range eggs and sourdough toast, but my good post-Christmas intentions prevailed and I opted for the hot venison scotch egg with home made brown sauce and dressed green bean salad at £6.50. My self-control wasn’t total as I augmented the dish with a side of skinny chips for £2.00. A glass of pinot noir lubricated the food at £6.00 (175ml).

I love venison; it has a wonderful flavour and has far less fat than other red meat. If you think that I am going to say that the only problem is that it is dear (deer – geddit?) then you would be correct, I never let a bad joke slip by. The lower fat content means that the texture of the mince used to make the scotch egg is denser than it would have been had pork been used and this made it far more interesting. The yolk of the egg was perfectly cooked, being soft but just beyond runny. The taste was excellent, as was that of the brown sauce, which came in a small jar. The spices gave the sauce not only a tang but also a rounded finish. I enjoyed it so much that I was given a small ‘doggy tub’ to use on my Sunday morning bacon butty. The salad, as the name would suggest, contained green beans along with chopped spring onions, rocket, red lettuce and lamb’s lettuce. The French dressing was exquisite.

I have not enjoyed a lunch so much in a while. Because of the quality of the main course and the tempting appearance of the sweet counter, I threw my good intentions right out of the window and decided to put the one remaining piece of carrot cake out of its misery, along with a black coffee at £2.30. The pride in the food and the level of service manifested itself when the waiter brought me the cake. He said that, as it was the last piece, it was a little less fresh than he would have liked it to be so he said that I could choose an alternative or have the carrot cake on the house. In the interest of the coffers of Leeds Living I opted for the latter, hence no price is shown in the review as there was nothing on the bill. If this is a cake approaching its sell by date it must have been amazing on the day it was baked. It was only a smidgeon on the dry side but still as good, if not better than I have had in other establishments when fresh.

All in all this is a brilliant place to have lunch. I now know another great place to eat but in the interest of my readers I am compelled to try somewhere else next time. I will console myself in the knowledge that, had I revisited a past favourite, I would not have found this new one.

Mange toutes,

Stan Graham


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