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Olive Press Restaurant Review

Jonathan Schofield likes his eggs and his meringue on an accidental review

Written by . Published on March 12th 2012.

Olive Press Restaurant Review

ACCIDENTAL reviews are good.

As a writer you traipse in for a lunch expecting nothing much except good company and then hey presto! the food joins the party too. 

You didn't eat the meringue, you mined it. You drilled though layers of egg white spun with sugar, to dripping toffee caverns and banana sub strata.

This happened in the Olive Press on Lloyd Street in Manchester last week. On an awkward site, it was an awkward idea when it first opened, a classic piece of Italian inspired fluff. It was all right. That was about it.

Olive Press interiorOlive Press interior

But last week things were different.

I couldn't fault any of the dishes we ate including deep fried calamari with lemon mayonnaise (£5.95), roasted hake with salsa verde, potato and egg (£12.95) and an Italian burger in a focaccia bun with mozzarella and pesto (£11.50).

I certainly couldn't fault the Ridiculous Meringue Of Overwhelming Desire (£5.95) - that's my name for it by the way.

On a middling half full lunch hour in Oliver Press the wholehearted food showed deft handing, apt seasoning and simple straightforward virtues. It was not so much a surprise as just good.

Hake and eggsHake and eggs

The hake dish was given distintion by those lengthways quartered boiled eggs, all garrumphed in oil and herbs, with spuds and toms. Slapped on the tines of a fork with the fish flesh too, this was a joy. Slippery, moist flavours and textures were the keynote. It felt healthy, felt like my skin was getting treated properly, like in one of those ads for skin products that mention 'essential oils'. 

The calamari fried with crisp light batter and dunked in the lemon mayonnaise were a great accompaniment to the hake - although perhaps not so good for my skin. The calamari appear on the menu as a starter but I wanted them as a side for the main course, and it worked a treat, boosting the combination of flavours and adding a nice crunch.


The burger (main picture, top of the page) was coo-ed over by the fellow diner. The springy, soft-centred, mince was firm on the outside and jingled and jangled with a decent pesto, a basil leaf and mozzarella topping. The ramekin of hot little sauce was welcome.

As the picture shows we swapped the fries for salad and this was a model of fresh, crunchy greens with onions and tomatoes. 

Then it was the Ridiculous Meringue Of Overwhelming Desire (£5.95). This was a monster of a meringue kicked into life with toffee, banana, and cream so thick you could walk on it with snowshoes, or even tennis racquets tied to your brogues or heels.

So Mr Schofield, lie on that couch and tell me about your childhoodSo Mr Schofield, lie on that couch and tell me about your childhood

You didn't eat this meringue, you mined it. You drilled though layers of egg white spun with sugar, to dripping toffee caverns and banana sub strata.

Meringues are part of my past. My gran made meringues so good, young lads would leave off football games in the park and go sprinting down Sandy Lane for them. Along with knickerbocker glories and trifles, they stand before my eyes, like an intense dream of childhood happiness. 

Unlike the meringues the wine range at Olive Press is more or less mundane, reds and whites by numbers, but have prices to match from £12.95 up to the mid-twenties. If you are driven mad by meringue mania you could buy a bottle of Amarone 2002 at £40, which delivers full-on quality.  

Outside on Lloyd StreetOutside on Lloyd Street

Matthew Pritchard is the head chef at the Olive Press. For a middling restaurant aimed at a middling market he's achieved really strong work here.

He shows that chains such as Olive Press (and Piccolino off Albert Square) can lift themselves up high and produce food that can be quality yet reasonably priced.

What the Olive Press isn't, I suppose, is an Italian restaurant. It's an Italian-inspired British restaurant. And as Roberto Mancini and Mario Balotelli keep wanting to tell me, not all Italian inspired restaurants need be square pichetti in round buci. 

You can follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter here @JonathSchofield


The Olive Press, 4 Lloyd Street, City, M2 5AB. 0871 704 0657  

Rating: 14/20
Food: 7.5/10
Service: 3.5/5
Ambience: 3/5

Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20, we get carried away.

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11 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

ljmpoolMarch 12th 2012.

Has it changed management/chef? I went there a year or so ago, and it was fairly miserable

AnonymousMarch 12th 2012.

Re the above. Don't think so. But they are now advertising on this site ;)

1 Response: Reply To This...
Jonathan SchofieldMarch 12th 2012.

Hey listen person I may get things wrong but I will never compromise these rated reviews. I went into Olive Press and thought the food on that lunchtime was really good. I wasn't aware that Olive Press were even doing a campaign cos when I'm reviewing I don't talk to sales.

Alan WharrierMarch 13th 2012.


2 Responses: Reply To This...
Jonathan SchofieldMarch 13th 2012.

Shame I didn't know about the promotion Alan because I paid full price

Alan WharrierMarch 15th 2012.

was only joking would be difficult to eat anywhere in Mancs without them being on Mancon.

mrsplimMarch 13th 2012.

I recently ate at the olive press for lunch and the food was great and reasonably priced. They also have a build your own pizza option to keep children occupied whilst we enjoyed a grown up lunch. I would definately eat here again.

Steven McNultyMarch 13th 2012.

I've not eaten there since just after it opened as we had a dismal meal there. The build your own pizza was a great idea but it arrived after the main meals, resulting in a sulky child. I had a seafood risotto or past a dish (can't remember which) that was full of grit from the shellfish.

RevaulxMarch 13th 2012.

Is the Manchester one now totally divorced from what is left of the Heathcote empire? The Olive Press in Preston is still his.

tblzebraMarch 13th 2012.

It changed hands a while back - now run by the ever increasing Living Ventures group.


James KayMarch 15th 2012.

I'd never been to Olive Press and never given it a thought until last night, but I have to say that I was impressed. My 3 courses were faultless but if I had to find something wrong, the girlfriend would have preferred her Tiramisu sponge to be soaked a little more... and that's not a euphemism!

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