Being spoilt for choice when it comes to good eating in Cayman we are often left hankering for decent grub when touring the English countryside. Discovering The Olive Branch (left) was therefore an exciting find for us: it is a very special place indeed, nestled in the countryside of Rutland (a tiny, made-up English county that’s a mish-mash of parts of several counties).
The Olive Branch’s history dates back to 1890, when three labourers’ cottages stood on the current restaurant site. In 1999 it was restored to its former glory, and now there is tremendous warmth and character to this archetypal English pub-come-restaurant. Notwithstanding the exceptional cuisine, the restaurant has a rustic, casual and inviting charm that meant it was packed to the rafters with diners, even though it was really in the middle of nowhere.
As is a summertime tradition in England, Pimm’s was on the menu as a refreshing aperatif cocktail. Mine (see below right) was a home-made concoction using strawberry liqueur, macerated fruit and other spirits and absolutely delicious. The boys went for a pint of the local Olive Ale (which they said had an interesting olivey aftertaste) and we ploughed into, what else, but a bowl of bright green and tangy olives (centre below).
Once seated at our rustic heavy wooden dining table, we discovered appetisers were light and incredibly flavourful. My chicken liver parfait (made at a local farm - see below left) was served with the local pub chutney and was soft as a whisper and fabulously creamy next to the fruity chutney and crunchy melba toast. A balsamic reduction swirled around the plate was a nice enhancement to the flavours.
Making an interesting appearance on the menu was a selection of beers paired for dessert, including a selection of locally brewed Samuel Smith’s fruit beers and sweet ciders of varying strengths and flavours. I guess we will just have to examine them more closely another time, for we will without doubt be making another pilgrimage to this countryside Michelin-starred delight very soon indeed.