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Located in the small Staffordshire town of Cheadle, The New Olive Tree is a family-run tapas bar serving delicious and authentic Mediterranean dishes. After winning the Best Independent Restaurant In Staffordshire title in our 2018 What’s On Readers’ Awards, it was certainly a place we wanted to check out, to see what all the fuss was about…
The menu is split into sections - nibbles, paella and vegetarian, fish and meat tapas. The restaurant also boasts a ‘none of that foreign stuff’ section - which features a range of dishes including fillet steak, sausage & mash and haddock & chips - a children’s menu and an Olive Tree Special.
The Olive Tree Special is aimed at two people sharing and costs £50 for three courses. To start, diners can choose from either the Trio of Dips - aioli, hummus and balsamic and olive oil served with fingers of warm artisan breads, olives and feta - or the Anti Pasti Board - a selection of continental meats, olives, feta, olive oil and balsamic dip, hummus and bread. The main course is then made up of any five tapas dishes of your choice from the nibbles, vegetarian, fish or meat section. Dessert consists of any three desserts of your choice from the daily menu.
We felt that the Olive Tree Special was fantastic value for money, so opted for that.
To start, we chose the Anti Pasti Board mentioned above and added a side of aioli. The hummus and aioli were beautifully creamy, the bread fluffy and warm and the olive oil and balsamic of a high quality. There was plenty of meat, olives and feta, too - The New Olive Tree certainly doesn’t skimp on its portion sizes. All elements on the platter were spot on and acted as a perfect taster for the food that was to follow.
Choosing from a mouthwatering menu of tapas delights, for our main course we opted for haggis and smokey bacon hash with stilton butter, salt’n’chilli chicken with siracha, pan-fried beef fillet with garlic oil, rocket, parmesan and balsamic, beer battered halloumi with a green chilli dip and patatas bravas. We couldn’t whittle our favourites down to five, so we also had the pan-fried tiger prawns with chilli and garlic - an absolute essential whenever I order tapas.
Every dish was beautiful! The haggis dish was meaty and strong-flavoured, the prawns were cooked and seasoned to perfection and the juicy steak provided a gorgeous melt-in-the-mouth sensation. The beer batter on the halloumi was tasty and light, with the green chilli dip acting as the perfect accompaniment and the crispy chicken showcasing subtle chilli and salt flavours.
The patatas bravas was, without a doubt, the nicest I've had anywhere, ever. Comprising sautéed potatoes, peppers, red onion, hot mojo sauce and feta cheese, it really was ‘comfort-food heaven’ (with a kick!) and a welcome adaptation of the often-dull classic.
The combination of flavours provided by each dish was certainly up there with some of the nicest I've enjoyed in a tapas restaurant. It’s clear to see why The New Olive Tree was voted Best Independent Restaurant In Staffordshire by our readers!
During our visit, and despite having a full house to contend with (due to its popularity, advanced booking is essential on weekends), the owner, Lou, took time out on numerous occasions to come over and chat to us.
From the decor to the ambience and the service, The New Olive Tree has adopted an extremely laid-back approach to dining. Lou explained that she wants people to feel like they’re popping over to a friend’s house for tea, rather than feeling like they’re dining out in a restaurant. She’s certainly achieved her aim. The decor has a living room feel to it - there are even pictures on display from Lou and Martin’s wedding day - and the service is informal and friendly. This approach may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it certainly worked for us.
We ended our evening with a trio of desserts. We chose the lemon posset, the cookie dough and the sticky toffee pudding. Hats off to the chef for all three! The lemon posset was smooth and creamy, the cookie dough - served warm with vanilla ice cream - was naughty and sweet, and the sticky toffee pudding was, again, up there with the nicest I’ve ever tried.
Lou and Martin have something truly special going on here - The New Olive Tree is a real gem. From the quaint decor and the warm and downright phenomenal service, to the delicious food and chilled-out atmosphere, the eatery was so good that our near-three-hour drive to get there and back was absolutely worthwhile. I certainly wouldn’t think twice about making the journey again, not only for a second time but also a third, fourth or even a 10th time.
Review by Lauren Foster
Overall value ★★★★★
The New Olive Tree, 88 High Street, Cheadle, Stoke-on-Trent, ST10 1AJ
Tel: 01538 422664
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