Although a tropical storm was fast approaching, there was plenty of sunlight all around. Ignoring the weather forecast, I took my friend to somewhere we can relax and enjoy our lunch under some natural sunlight. I picked Olive, Greek & Middle Eastern at Elements because I know it is located on the open podium level (Civic Square) whereby there are some outdoors seating available. Although it was a sunny afternoon without any rain, it was rather windy, so we decided to move indoors. Honestly, I was glad that we ended up eating indoors because I found the atmosphere and ambiance very nice indeed. The main dining area is on the second floor with a very soft and mild earthy color tone. Vast windows are installed on the left, letting plenty of natural sunlight to absorb the whole area. We got the window seats overlooking the podium.
The decor of this place is of modern Mediterranean, with an earthy tone to it. The natural sunlight along with the brown and green color scheme provided me with a relax sensation. I rarely spend so much space describing the atmosphere of a restaurant but I do like the environment here (on an early afternoon during the weekend with less people obviously). Ambiance is great but the seat itself is not that comfortable because it seems rather too soft and too low relative to the height of the tables. Apparently they only offer set lunches of either 2 or 3 courses. Although there were many selections to choice form, we both found something we wanted to try.
(1) Chicken threads with walnuts, French beans, coriander, Egyptian fried egg
When I first saw the name of the dish, the first thing that I noticed was the reference to Egyptian fried egg. What exact is a Egyptian fried egg? Turned out it was just a normal egg with some special sauce. For some seasons, I was not sure how it was being fried because it seemed to be it was just being boiled. Nonetheless, it was interesting to have such presentation for a salad and I actually enjoyed it very much. The sauce was not too strong and not too creamy either, a refreshing summer starter. More diced tomatoes would give the dish more colors and maybe a more refreshing sensation.
(2) Moroccan chickpea soup, sauteed school prawns, harissa oil
My friend order this soup and according to her, it was pretty good. When we first ordered, I wondered what exact does "school" prawns mean and from the prawns in the soup when served, it means "tiny" prawns. It is actually a type or category of prawns averaging 10g and 9cm in length. Something new to learn everyday!
(3) Cabbage leaves stuffed with jewelled cracked wheat on honey-ginger tomato sauce and goat cheese cream
A long name for a dish indeed. I really liked its presentation with all the ingredient wrapped inside the cabbage leaves dome. (note: the cabbage leaves were rather elastic and required some skills to cut through it with the provided knife). In terms of taste, I could not really identify the honey-ginger tomato sauce that was supposed to be mixed together with the cracked wheat. Maybe it was supposed that subtle. The sauce which I recognized was more like Porcini mushroom than honey-ginger tomato sauce. If it was indeed Porcini mushroom sauce, it was a good combination with the jewelled cracked wheat which tasted like Italian risotto. I am not an expert in Greek and Middle Eastern cuisine but I am pretty sure it was a fusion dish which I did enjoy, maybe because I like to try new things all the time. Humm ... I wonder of what origin this dish derived from ... Greek? Turkish?
(4) Lamb and Vegetable moussaka with a tomato mint and feta salad
I had to check up what moussaka means because I had no idea and the way it was served was not of our expectation. According to wikipeida: "In the Arab world, moussaka is a cooked salad made up primarily of tomatoes and eggplant, similar to Italian caponata and is usually served cold as a mezze dish." Apparently it wasn't served cold. So I continued my research. It turns out "Turkish moussaka, unlike the Greek version, is not layered. Instead, it is prepared with sautéed eggplants, green peppers, tomatoes, onions, and minced meat." Now we are talking! The moussaka that was served contained plenty of minced lamb which was very tasty. I wasn't sure if there was any eggplant because I only got a small portion from my friend to try but I liked it. Again, I have no idea how this dish is suppose to taste like in the traditional way but all I know is that I liked it and I think it can be a great comfort food!
(5) Rich Chocolate tart with Turkish delight
There was no particular surprise from the chocolate tart but the buttery cream on top was interesting and rather refreshing. It contained herb taste commonly used in middle eastern dishes. I could not name the flavor but the cream certainly did not taste like normal cream. The Turkish delight was very sweet as it should be but not really my cup of tea. Presentation was pretty nice in my opinion. On a negative note, the dessert was served when I was still having my main course!! Those junior staff require more training indeed. The manager did come to apologize soon after but I was very surprised that the junior staff who delivered the dessert attempted to shove the plate onto the table even when my existing plate took most of the table space already.
(6) Turkish Coffee
I consider the Turkish coffee one of the highlights of the day. The staff informed us that the coffee would be very strong and his warning only made me want the coffee even more. The way it was served was rather interesting as well. The coffee was heated / brewed in a copper pot and poured into a tiny transparent Turkish style glass right at the table. The coffee flavor was strong and it contained traces of sweetness to it. I think a bit of sugar was added to the boiling / brewing process. Overall a very nice and smoothing coffee to be enjoyed after a relaxing meal. Not sure if it was prepared in the traditional way but the sweetness somehow lowered the intensity of the flavor in my opinion. Not as strong as I expected it.
- Wonderful decor with natural sunlight
- Turkish version of Lamb Moussaka was good, something new to me
- Turkish coffee (stronger would be better)
- height of the seats relative to the table
- Inexperienced junior staff (the word junior some what describe the inexperience aspect of the staff but not with such basic rules) - Manager was quick to apologize and that was good.
Olive, Greek & Middle Eastern (Closed)
Shop R008, Elements,
1 Austin Road West, TST
Tel: 2810 8585