Olive Garden, Gorleston, restaurant review: An old favourite which still feels like home
It was a familiar haunt which brought back memories of living at home. Geraldine Scott found out whether The Olive Garden in Gorleston still had the appeal.
When I still lived at home in Great Yarmouth, the Olive Garden was a treat for me and my mum.
At that point the restaurant was based in Regent Road, the main tourist drag, but it separated itself from the steakhouses and cafes by offering something a bit different, and of clearly high quality.
When the eatery moved to Gorleston High Street in 2016, there was no doubt it would offer the same tasty dishes.
The only problem for us was that is stopped offering a takeaway delivery service, which had been perfect for when you wanted to curl up on the sofa but wanted something more substantial than a kebab or a Chinese takeaway.
What it does mean though is we are more often found nestled into one of the restaurant’s cosy booths nowadays.
The Olive Garden menu has mastered that trick of keeping the old favourites going, like beef stifado and chicken souvlaki, while also adding new dishes to keep things fresh.
One of the newer dishes - or at least new to me - was the starter of skewered scallops wrapped in pancetta.
I had this as a starter, and the scallops were cooked perfectly, with the ideal balance of being sweet and juicy combined with the saltiness of the pancetta.
For traditions sake I took my mum along with me, and as a recent convert to seafood - after a lifelong aversion to anything which had touched saltwater - she tried the prawn and crayfish salad.
The prawns were a good size - and so was the whole starter, so much so she couldn’t finish it. And the salad was fresh and crispy.
I thought the best way to really judge what the Olive Garden was offering was to try a bit of everything, so a meze platter for one seemed like a good idea.
The selection was huge and even though I’ve got a good appetite on me (mum used to tell me I had hollow legs growing up) it was a push even for me.
The plate arrived piled high with chicken souvlaki, Greek-style suasgae, pastourma, lundza, halloumi, taramasalata, flatbread,stuffed vine leaves and tiger prawns. All served with a Greek salad and a choice of potatoes.
Frankly, for me, there was too much food and I could have done without the potatoes but what I could eat was delicious, well-cooked and flavoursome. And the waitress was all too happy to wrap up what I couldn’t finish for me to take away.
My mum had the moussaka mytilini. The menu described this as a recipe from the island of Lesvos and it was made with the most tender lamb, layer with vegetables and topped with a cheese sauce.
Mum said the meat melted in her mouth and was perfectly seasoned.
Both too full for dessert we both had a coffee instead, but the menu - which changes regularly - was varied with cheesecake, crème brûlée and ice cream all featuring.
A nice added extra was the liquor shots brought with our bill - although maybe not ideal for those driving!
An extensive wine list and all the usual soft drinks you would except, plus coffees.
There is always a welcoming atmosphere at the Olive Garden, and usually a buzz as you will regularly find a large group celebrating a birthday or other occasion.
Always friendly, one man in particular - although I’ve never caught his name - has been there as long as we remember and makes a point of remembering us.
As you’d expect, clean, tidy, modern.
Much better since moving to Gorleston as there is a pay and display across the road and on street parking outside.
Gorleston High Street is highly rated among residents and its offering is only expanding. For many it means they hardly venture across the bridge to Great Yarmouth anymore, and the Olive Garden only adds to the quality line up.
With mains starting from £10.25 and deals on offer for lunch, early evening, and special occasions it’s easy to get a good night out for a fair price.
As someone who gets serious fear of missing out if I think I’ve picked the wrong dish, the chance to try a bit of everything on one platter was ideal for me.
For us, it’s an old favourite, but the Olive Garden has managed to keep enough the same to feel familiar while remaining current and up to date with its dishes. It feels like coming home.
Food - 5/5
Value - 5/5
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