The Olive Branch
Manchester Road, Marsden, HD7 6LU
VenueThe Olive Branch
Tel 01484 844487
Opening hours Monday to Saturday 6.30pm to 9.30pm and Sunday 1pm till 8.30pm
Disabled access Yes
The bill £56.75 including wine and coffee
Would you go back We certainly would.
WALKING into The Olive Branch is like walking back in time.
It’s a place of instant familiarity – a former pub with a history stretching way back, but in recent times a restaurant – and an exclusive one at that.
But it’s never turned its back on its heritage. The photographs on the all see to that. It was even home to a Waffen and Puffen Band until, wait for it, as recently as the 1920s.
I told you it had a long history.
And, while we’re about it, what on earth is waffen and a puffen.
The Olive Branch used to have its menus on huge yellow post-it notes – absolutely no joke – dotted around the bar area. Now it has two menus – one A La Carte and the other a set meal – but you’ve got to get there before 8pm to get that. Don’t be late now.
Our order was in at 7.58 and several seconds. Skin of the teeth time. We’ll be back to skin later.
The restaurant has retained the feature that make it unique – some of the tables are wooden country affairs with a few dotted in cosy corners while nip down a corridor and you’ll come to a snug diner with sweeping views across the Colne Valley. With bookcases, beaten-up old armchairs, a Greek bust of a woman and, naturally, a sit-on-and-rock wooden pig, its got a kind of library come bar come kitchen come parlour feel. The old-style 30s and 40s jazz playing serenely in the background kept the timewarp intact.
But to the food.
The set menu offers two course for £15.95, three courses for £18.95 and, if you fancy wine, they’ll do that for £24.95 which includes a carafe-equalling half-a-bottle.
Well, it’d seem churlish to turn it round and we ended up with one carafe of red and another of white.
The set menu is condensed with five starters, five mains and, to keep it nice and neat, five desserts to choose from compared to the expansive A La Carte.
Starters were avocado and prawns – a refreshing mix of chopped avocado and prawns in a tangy Marie Rose sauce in an avocado skin to keep up appearances. The other was the roast garlic mushrooms that mixed salami, tomato and parmesan in a sauce that had a kick. Ruth hesitated for a second before making the selection. She was working the next day and worried about the garlic impact. The hesitation passed as quickly as it descended on her. A very wise choice. Button mushrooms never tasted so good.
Onwards to the main event.
For me, roast pork loin in thyme and wild mushroom sauce. Plenty of sauce – I’m certainly not one for jus – with a subtle yet fully-rounded flavour to bring the best from the pork.
For Ruth it was the crispy leg of duck – and it sure was crispy. The skin can be the best bit – and this certainly had the crunch factor with the tender meat falling from the bone. Side dishes were simple. New potatoes in butter and a small but varied amount of vegetables that included sugarsnap peas and, of all things, a yellow courgette. I know of a yellow submarine the Beatles once sang about – not that I ever really understood it – but never a yellow courgette.
You’re not overfaced at The Olive Branch so there was room for dessert. I had a wedge of Cropwell Bishop stilton with Apricot chutney – two slices of cheese – accompanied by around five biscuits. I’ve a theory that people who like plain cheese such as cheddar shun the fully-flavoured stuff like Shropshire blue, stilton and Danish blue. And those that love this can’t do with the dull stuff.
Ruth steered clear of the cheese and had the sticky toffee pudding and ice-cream.
Rich, certainly. It’s a proper pudding.
lIf you love food read Gavin Castle’s Drip Bread Diaries blog on the Examiner’s website at http://blogs.examiner.co.uk/thedripbreaddiaries/