Concealed behind a gated courtyard off Worcester High Street and nestled between the entrance of St Swithun’s Church and Superdrug, you will find The Olive Branch - Worcester’s hidden gem. 

The venue is split across three floors, with each offering a different experience. The ground floor houses a small, informal café area, the cellar provides a bar for parties and gatherings, and the first floor is a characterful main dining area, complete with original stained-glass window features.

On approach, the gated courtyard itself appears very welcoming. it would be a lovely place for a drink beneath the festoon lighting. The entranceway is quite dark, but the venue itself boasts an appropriately Mediterranean feel, thanks in the main to its pastel tones and general décor.

The staff immediately made us feel welcome, taking our coats and leading us to our table. 

Visiting as we were on a Monday lunchtime, we expected it to be fairly quiet, but a good number of the tables were taken in the upstairs area. These were smartly dressed with crisp white tablecloths and gypsophila in glass vases. 

During our stay, my partner tried two draught beers exclusively made for the Olive Branch: Palido (pale ale) and Matador (pilsner). Matador was slightly sharper than Palido, but both had a session beer taste - absolutely perfect for drinking on a sun-drenched Spanish beach!

For our starter, we opted for the Greek meze sharing board, which is suitable for two people as a first course. This consisted of paprika-coated halloumi, lamb koftas, sundried tomato houmous, tzatziki, flatbreads, a Greek salad and, star of this particular show, a sweet roast pepper chutney. It was a filling starter but a thoroughly enjoyable one.  

Following this, we chose five tapas dishes to share as our main course: chicken wings, polpette, provolone cheese & serrano ham croquettes (from the specials menu), patatas bravas and halloumi. Beautifully presented, the portions were generous and flavoursome. The paprika sung through the halloumi (as it did in the mezze) and the subtle dash of lime zest on the chicken wings really brought the marinade to life.

Unsure about which pudding to have, we decided on the tapas desserts, which consisted of five mini treats. The chef generally chooses the desserts, but if you have a particular preference, this can be accommodated. We were brought the dulce de leche cheesecake, panna cotta, tarta de santiago, tiramisu, chocolate & hazelnut tart and a scoop of fresh fruit sorbet. It would be difficult to single out any one of these dishes, as they were all rich, indulgent and a complete delight. The dark chocolate against the impeccably made pastry case greatly satisfied my sweet tooth, as did the smooth and zingy panna cotta.

The sorbet, meanwhile, was a deliciously refreshing palate cleanser.

There is nothing to dislike about The Olive Branch. It oozes authenticity and provides a fantastic culinary experience. I will definitely be returning.

***** Jenny Ell