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Olive Garden, Gorleston, restaurant review: An old favourite which still feels like home

Olive Garden, Gorleston. Photo: Geraldine Scott

Olive Garden, Gorleston. Photo: Geraldine Scott

Geraldine Scott

It was a familiar haunt which brought back memories of living at home. Geraldine Scott found out whether The Olive Garden in Gorleston still had the appeal.

Olive Garden, Gorleston. Skewered scallops. Photo: Geraldine ScottOlive Garden, Gorleston. Skewered scallops. Photo: Geraldine Scott

Food

When I still lived at home in Great Yarmouth, the Olive Garden was a treat for me and my mum.

At that point the restaurant was based in Regent Road, the main tourist drag, but it separated itself from the steakhouses and cafes by offering something a bit different, and of clearly high quality.

When the eatery moved to Gorleston High Street in 2016, there was no doubt it would offer the same tasty dishes.

Olive Garden, Gorleston. Prawn and crayfish salad. Photo: Geraldine ScottOlive Garden, Gorleston. Prawn and crayfish salad. Photo: Geraldine Scott

The only problem for us was that is stopped offering a takeaway delivery service, which had been perfect for when you wanted to curl up on the sofa but wanted something more substantial than a kebab or a Chinese takeaway.

What it does mean though is we are more often found nestled into one of the restaurant’s cosy booths nowadays.

The Olive Garden menu has mastered that trick of keeping the old favourites going, like beef stifado and chicken souvlaki, while also adding new dishes to keep things fresh.

One of the newer dishes - or at least new to me - was the starter of skewered scallops wrapped in pancetta.

Olive Garden, Gorleston. Meze platter for one. Photo: Geraldine ScottOlive Garden, Gorleston. Meze platter for one. Photo: Geraldine Scott

I had this as a starter, and the scallops were cooked perfectly, with the ideal balance of being sweet and juicy combined with the saltiness of the pancetta.

For traditions sake I took my mum along with me, and as a recent convert to seafood - after a lifelong aversion to anything which had touched saltwater - she tried the prawn and crayfish salad.

The prawns were a good size - and so was the whole starter, so much so she couldn’t finish it. And the salad was fresh and crispy.

I thought the best way to really judge what the Olive Garden was offering was to try a bit of everything, so a meze platter for one seemed like a good idea.

Olive Garden, Gorleston. Moussaka mytilini.  Photo: Geraldine ScottOlive Garden, Gorleston. Moussaka mytilini. Photo: Geraldine Scott

The selection was huge and even though I’ve got a good appetite on me (mum used to tell me I had hollow legs growing up) it was a push even for me.

The plate arrived piled high with chicken souvlaki, Greek-style suasgae, pastourma, lundza, halloumi, taramasalata, flatbread,stuffed vine leaves and tiger prawns. All served with a Greek salad and a choice of potatoes.

Frankly, for me, there was too much food and I could have done without the potatoes but what I could eat was delicious, well-cooked and flavoursome. And the waitress was all too happy to wrap up what I couldn’t finish for me to take away.

My mum had the moussaka mytilini. The menu described this as a recipe from the island of Lesvos and it was made with the most tender lamb, layer with vegetables and topped with a cheese sauce.

Olive Garden, Gorleston. Potato side. Photo: Geraldine ScottOlive Garden, Gorleston. Potato side. Photo: Geraldine Scott

Mum said the meat melted in her mouth and was perfectly seasoned.

Both too full for dessert we both had a coffee instead, but the menu - which changes regularly - was varied with cheesecake, crème brûlée and ice cream all featuring.

A nice added extra was the liquor shots brought with our bill - although maybe not ideal for those driving!

Drink

An extensive wine list and all the usual soft drinks you would except, plus coffees.

Interior/atmosphere

There is always a welcoming atmosphere at the Olive Garden, and usually a buzz as you will regularly find a large group celebrating a birthday or other occasion.

Service

Always friendly, one man in particular - although I’ve never caught his name - has been there as long as we remember and makes a point of remembering us.

Loos

As you’d expect, clean, tidy, modern.

Parking

Much better since moving to Gorleston as there is a pay and display across the road and on street parking outside.

Location

Gorleston High Street is highly rated among residents and its offering is only expanding. For many it means they hardly venture across the bridge to Great Yarmouth anymore, and the Olive Garden only adds to the quality line up.

Price

With mains starting from £10.25 and deals on offer for lunch, early evening, and special occasions it’s easy to get a good night out for a fair price.

Highlight

As someone who gets serious fear of missing out if I think I’ve picked the wrong dish, the chance to try a bit of everything on one platter was ideal for me.

In summary

For us, it’s an old favourite, but the Olive Garden has managed to keep enough the same to feel familiar while remaining current and up to date with its dishes. It feels like coming home.

Score

Food - 5/5

Value - 5/5

This is an independent review. For more food reviews, click here.

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