Review: Oliviera, Richmond



They didn’t help their cause at Oliviera by having some fairly useless front of house on our visit. Not only did we have to resort to wild arm-waving after 20 minutes of waiting to order (despite the place being half-empty) but she also had no idea how to deal with an actual complaint. Maureen’s main course came out fairly tepid, which we told her when she stopped by to ask breezily “is everything okay?” We used the classic British: “Well, actually Maureen’s main course isn’t really hot, scarcely warm really.” She responded with a bemused “oh… I’ll let chef know” and wandered off. We didn’t see her again until it was time to clear the plates and ask whether we wanted desserts!

Anyway, we’re here for the food! Poor service can just be random bad luck. In fact, generally if I mention it at all I’m really pointing out that my mood wasn’t as receptive as it might have been, and with the best will in the world my overall impression of the meal might be a bit dented!



Oliviera is vegetarian, except for some rennet on their parmesan, but they wear the label lightly and set out just to serve delicious food. I start with ricotta and truffle agnolotti. This is good pasta, generous in size and nicely al dente. It’s a good ricotta and the truffle oil good quality. Maureen has a starter of mushroom risotto, again nicely cooked though rather gentle on flavour. Over the table my brother tried their “faux gras” – a vegetarian take on foie gras that he pronounced good, and a complete mystery as to what’s in it!

If you guessed at the outset that jackfruit would feature in our meal, you guessed right. Maureen’s jackfruit came in a spicy mango sauce with three kinds of rice. As noted, it was tepid, and perhaps that’s why the sweetness of the sauce seemed just a bit cloying after a while. I’m also really unclear why they called it “spicy”. I make spicier porridge.

Jackfruit n mango

Jackfruit n mango

My main was trumpet royale steak. Hm. See, here they hit one of my pet peeves. That vegetarian insistence on hopeful skeumorphisms. Slices of mushroom are not steaks. Even if you grill them. Steaks are steaks. In the event I had four slender slices of a sturdy mushroom that wouldn’t have been much more than 100g, so not even remotely the right shape or size for a steak. The bulk of my meal was actually cassava chips, and to be fair these were jolly good chips. They went very well with the 17-root(?) peppercorn sauce that engulfed the dinky mushroom slices. Good sauce too.

We didn’t stop for puds. But look, three courses will set you back £26-ish without drinks, and that’s pretty fair value for the quality of cooking. Not every dish was knock-out but there’s good flavour and good cooking here and I’d actually be quite happy if this was my neighbourhood restaurant.

Mushroom "steak"

Mushroom “steak”

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