A visit to Olives in Funchal, Madeira

In the land where ‘scabbard fish and banana’ is the repeated offer along streets full of eateries, discovering this partially veggie place was like the restaurant equivalent of spotting a sandy beach among the volcanic shingle.
The building is easy enough to spot, a stunning piece of deco architecture rising from a busy intersection, with Olives sitting on the 3rd floor. Through the shopping centre, past the gym, it’s not exactly an obvious stop off for walk-in trade, but well worth making the diversion.
The small terrace has just a few tables with a fragrant balcony border which doubles as the kitchen’s scenic herb garden.


Choices

There’s a veggie/vegan menu and then there’s a meat/fish/general menu. Or mix and match.

Ahead of the meal we were given warm local bread with a choice of three butters – basil, black olive or plain.
Although it might seem odd to have soup in a hot clime, the pumpkin soup with cheese and walnut was the perfect starter with the slightly gloopy fresh cheese countering the sweetness of the gourd.

For mains I went for the fresh spinach and cheese ravioli in sauce which was full of flavour while he went for the sea bream with poppy seed. Beautifully cooked and with a delicate taste. Served by the chef we enquired about the unusual potato structures standing tall on the plate – ‘Stonehenge’ he informed us with a laugh, ‘I was inspired by Stonehenge to create this.’

Ok, maybe Druid influenced potato erections are slightly out of the ordinary, but so is this place and we both loved it.

A great value for money place taking into account the care and attention to the menu, the service, the standard of cooking and the relaxed style.

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