Adelaide Food Central was invited to the official launch of Olea at Electra House. All food and drink were provided free of charge.
It was only 2 months ago when I first visited Olea on opening day. It wasn’t quite the experience that I had hoped for, but like most new businesses, time is required to sort out the teething problems. A select number of guests were invited for a modern Greek degustation, and with 12 items on the menu, it was going to be nothing short of a night of over indulgence.
The local Kalamata Olives were garnished with oregano, citrus zest and garlic. Purple in colour with a smooth, meaty texture, the slight bitterness of the olives was balanced by the delicate herbal flavours of the oregano.
The Pita and traditional Koulouri bread were presented in brown paper bag, and torn open right in front of us. The pita bread was warm and fluffy, and the koulouri was like a crunchy pretzel. Two dips were provided; one with smoked salmon and the other with eggplant. The smoked salmon dip was smooth and creamy, while my favourite was the eggplant which had a lovely smokey tangy flavour.
The Kingfish Crudo was lovely in presentation with it’s beautiful bright colours. The raw slices of kingfish were silky and smooth, and were complimented by the crunchy petals of beet and radish, and natural sweetness of the pomegranate.
The Gemista is a rice stuffed tomato with a cheese foam, mint and dill. I loved this dish before and I still love it now. The tomato was soft and delicate, and filled with well flavoured rice. The cheese form was light and airy, and the addition of dill made the dish very refreshing.
The Spencer Gulf Prawns were massive and were laying on a bed of garlic flavoured croutons. The prawns were slightly overcooked but still retained the lovely char grilled flavours.
The Watermelon, haloumi, mint and baby cucumber salad was like the Greek version of a Vietnamese salad I had at Madame Hanoi. The watermelon was charred and looked like morsels of seared tuna. Its natural sweetness was balanced the saltiness of the haloumi and the refreshing flavour of mint. The salad was nice but the haloumi was a bit too firm for my liking.
Hidden under a mountain of herb salad was char grilled octopus. I imagine this dish would be difficult to cook due to the inconsistent thickness of the octopus. Some portions were dry and rubbery, while others were melt in your mouth goodness. The octopus by itself had a prominent charred flavour, but coupled with the white almond base, the dish became a bit more palatable.
The dish of the night was the Slow Braised Lamb Shoulder. Cooked for 10 hours, this well marinated piece of lamb was tender and succulent with the meat simply falling off the bone. This is a must have dish at Olea.
The Roast Potatoes were one of the sides for the Braised Lamb Shoulder. Firm on the outside with a soft and fluffy centre, I felt the potatoes could have been a bit more crisp.
The other side was the Grilled Cabbage which was a little bland for my liking.
The first dessert was a Plomari Ouzo Sorbet with mint foam and sweet black olive. This was light and refreshing with a distinct liquorice flavour from the ouzo.
The Vanilla Fondant with Elderflower was unique in presentation. This decadently sweet fondant was perfect for that quick sugar fix.
The Lemon Filo was a crisp wafer with lemon curd filling. A combination of crunchy and tart all rolled into one.
The Orange Cake was exactly what it was. A strong orange flavour infused into a soft sponge cake.
The Pastelli is a classic Greek recipe made from sesame seed, pistachio, sugar and honey. Nice and crunchy, it was a perfect way to end the evening.
At the end of the night, we had the privilege of a question and answer session with the chefs. While the primary focus of Olea is Greek cuisine, they’ve combined fresh local ingredients with worldly influences to make it modern. With a Spanish and Korean chefs behind the scenes, it’s their interpretation of what the food is like. All in all, it was a fantastic dinner. There were a few hiccups along the way but it was certainly a big step up from my previous experience.
WHERE: 131 King William St, Adelaide