Headline: so there’s more to Worcester than we thought… A Mediterranean gem in very special settings
Mulla: £40 for 5 tapas dishes, 1 large water, 1 bread and dip.
Worcester. If you’re in your late teens to mid-twenties, from anywhere within a 20-mile radius of the place and are partial to a little bit of partying, that word is more than likely reminiscent of a few nights out you’d rather you had absolutely no recollection of whatsoever. I reckon the city is probably keeping the Smirnoff Ice trade afloat on Monday nights alone. Defiler of dignities, witness to innumerable walks of shame, home to a ridiculous number of one-way streets, Worcester is a haven for students near and far, and a place I doubt many partygoers have actually ever seen in daylight.
Which is a bloody great shame, because it’s a really gorgeous city.
I know this because yesterday we had to head over there before the sun went down to do some shooting in the sunset hour for Alexander’s (a club, you might guess. And a lovely one at that). There’s a new drone in the family, and we knew there was a bit of water or something somewhere in Worcester, so off we went to make some movie magic. I’ll probably post about that in greater detail another time. As great as the Phantom 3 is, the batteries last for about 2 milliseconds – so after (VERY tentatively) flying it round the river a few times, we put it on charge and were about to step out the door to head to the local trusty Nando’s when someone recommended we try the Olive Branch.
“Mediterranean place”. Sounded good to me, because there would more than likely be hummus of some variety, which is never a bad thing.
I loved it before we’d even turned the corner and were facing the place, because it was down a lovely cobbled street (Worcester is full of those), next to a very old building that might have been a church. You squeeze down a gated courtyard covered in fairy lights, past the old Italian guy watering the plants (“goot eevaning”), and into the smiles of the wonderfully friendly staff.
The restaurant’s upstairs, suspended on creaky but beautiful old floorboards, and roofed by an outrageously thick sloping ceiling with a huge skylight. The best bit is the fact that the whole restaurant is kind of contained by hip-height glass walls, which leave a gap between the outer walls and yourselves. There are a number of floor-to-ceiling stained glass windows, and you can look over into the bar downstairs (at least from where we were sat – see the image I’ve posted).
The food – Mediterranean of all kinds! – is predominantly tapas, but they do serve main courses too. We ordered bread and split sauce to munch on and essentially got a whole loaf’s worth of fabulous, warm, nutty goodness. Then mains – paella pequena, which I’m still dreaming about, cod and pancetta fishcakes which were good enough to make me depart from my fish-hater diet, sweet potato tortilla (the omelette kind) that had Mack praising the gods, and deep-fried halloumi. It took about 5 minutes to come out and was served with attention to detail (great plates, and nice cutlery which is always an added bonus!). That suited us well, as we were in a crazy rush to get back out with the drone before dark.
The whole thing came to just under £40 (so 5 tapas dishes, a large bottled water, and bread to start) so it’s no Baguette du Monde, but well worth it for the surroundings, attentive service and truly tasty fresh food. Certainly very romantic. Oh – and the playlist they had on was flipping fantastic too. Bonus points!!
We will most definitely be making the journey back over to the Olive Branch, even if only to test out the pudding side of things this time! It’s also a coffee shop and wine bar, so there’s something for all hours.
I feel a little naive about never having had Worcester down as anything but 2-for-1 on mixers until now. As we trekked around the place location-scouting, we uncovered some J.K. Rowling-esque spots, and stunning contemporary-meets-18th century architectural marvels. But I know Mack will have got some 4k footage to do it justice, so at least that’s a little to give back. To be continued…
(Image on the left from their website, image at the top by me (sorry it’s wonky))