Grace your taste buds with a trip to the Mediterranean

IF YOU thought Port Elizabeth’s Stanley Street couldn’t get any cooler than it already is, you haven’t been to Two Olives, the new tapas-style eatery (with a deli component coming very soon) that has opened its doors there.

Two Olives may be new to the trendy Richmond Hill street, but the chef at its helm is a familiar face on the restaurant scene: he’s one of the delightful twin brothers who’ve been running the Chartroom Restaurant at the Algoa Bay Yacht Club for the past few years.

But Jonathan Gunston has left brother Nick to continue at the Chartroom (always a favourite) so he, Jono, can fly with this baby. And fly he surely will.

Jono is partnered in the Mediterranean-themed venture (with a few touches from the Middle East) by Mark Moore, who will be taking charge of the deli section downstairs when it opens in a few weeks’ time.

We’ve seen the word tapas bandied about on the odd PE restaurant menu, but my husband, Salvelio, ever the purist thanks to his Spanish DNA, usually pulls his nose up at such pretensions. Until now, that is.

He was immediately taken with the interesting tapas or snacky bits on offer when we visited Two Olives recently – and even more impressed when our orders arrived.

The best way to enjoy tapas is to choose two or three different ones and share them before moving on to mains. If you even have mains: Salvelio and I often just serve tapas instead of three defined courses, and it’s a fun way of eating that even the most unadventurous guests respond well to.

It was tough to narrow down our choices but we went for the “crispy fragrant prawns” in a hedgehog-like parmesan, lemon zest and parsley coating (R49) and falafel with babaganoosh (R39), both excellent, even though the falafel (Middle Eastern chickpea balls) was quite different to how we’d had it before.

The sesame seed coating certainly wasn’t something we’d seen, but we did enjoy this take. (We had lamb shank spring rolls and calamari and chorizo skewers on a subsequent visit and these were delicious too, especially the skewers in their herby, lemony bath).

Mains, for Salvelio, was flamed-grilled espetada (R110), or sirloin on a spike, well-aged and cooked to his liking (medium rare) and with a lipsmackingly good marinade on it.

This, he said, was delectable with Mediterranean roast vegetables and a vampirevanquishing garlic butter on the side. You can also choose rustic mash, or chips, wedges, baby potatoes, seafood rice or salad as a side dish.

My main course of pota, or stuffed calamari (R89), brought on a bout of nostalgia as it reminded me of the way my late father used to make it – stuffed with a chorizo and rice mix and served in a creamy lemon sauce.

Pudding options were limited but satisfying: creme caramel flavoured with espresso and a zesty lemon-and-lime cheesecake. I don’t recall what the desserts set us back but our bill, including tip (as well as two beers for hubby and two glasses of merlot rosé for me) came to R482. We’ll definitely be back despite only one drawback – Two Olives’ rather uncomfortable chairs!

Two Olives is at 1a Stanley Street and bookings are on (041)585-0371. This review visit was unannounced and the meal was paid for in full.

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