Step aside, people. The mother of all brunches has landed and it’s a doozy.
Ice House Street landmark Olé is celebrating its 18th birthday in style – with a whopping 16-course brunch featuring some of their most popular and signature dishes spanning the history of the restaurant. With 12 tapas, three main courses and four desserts to choose from – plus various add-on free-flow options – this is a brunch not to be missed. All for the incredible price of $380 per head.
Baby, I’m getting the food sweats just thinking about it.
Salmorejo (chilled tomato soup)
Unlike most brunches, nothing is self-served at Olé to ensure that you’ll get to try absolutely everything that the kitchen is churning out that day. Get busy nibbling on Andalusian-style marinated olives, preserved in house with a mixture of paprika, cumin seeds, lemon juice and olive oil, and move on to the much-lauded salmorejo (chilled tomato soup).We loved it as a starter – so tangy, so garlicky, so refreshing and cool. Just the thing to bring some life back into your bones after an exhausting, sweaty climb up the Duddell Street historic stairs to Olé on a typical so-hot-that-the-top-of-your-head-feels-like-it’s-on-fire kind of summer’s day. Guzzle down an assortment of Spanish cold cuts from the embutidos platter and you’ve already eaten your way through a handful of regional specialities, featuring chorizo, salchichón, copita, bull negre and bull de lengua.
Ibérico ham and chicken croquettes
Patatas bravas (spicy potatoes)
No Spanish tapas selection would be complete without croquettes, and Olé brings their starch game to the table. The Ibérico ham and chicken croquettes are generous, filling lumps using top-notch Joselito Gran Reserva jamón for a lovely, salty kick. And because there’s no such thing as too much starch, we delighted at the follow-up of aioli potatoes and Catalonian-style patatas bravas (spicy potatoes), resplendent with deep-fried crispy outsides, fluffy insides, a spicy tomato sauce and a piquant garlic mayonnaise. Say it with me: glorious, glorious –
Gambas al ajillo (garlic prawns)
Grilled Spanish octopus with paprika and aioli
Are you still with me? We’re about halfway down the tapas list. On to the seafood! There are decapods, cephalopods, bivalve molluscs…and everything is served up in indulgent portions. With the delicate Andalusian-style clams on our right and the bewitching garlicky scent of gambas al ajillo (garlic prawns) wafting in from a terracotta pot on our left, we ate our way through the brunch wishing we had been armed with a fork in each hand. Exceptional praise goes to Olé’s grilled Spanish octopus with paprika and aioli. Inspired by traditional northern Spanish octopus recipes, Chef Jesus’ unique take on the aioli octopus sees it executed in a southern Spanish style, layered in three different textures of homemade paprika aioli, grilled octopus and a ratte potato base. Smooth, nutty, sharp and savoury flavours came out to play and didn’t disappoint.
Deep-fried Spanish Padrón peppers
Sautéed chorizo with garlic and chive
Classic Spanish omelette
Say hello to deep-fried Spanish Padrón peppers served with Romesco dressing (a Catalonian nut-and-red-pepper-based sauce for the uninitiated), one of our favourites of the day. Great news: only about one in a handful of these buggers is unbearably spicy, so you get the added bonus of playing Guess Who? with these lovely, thoroughly blistered peppers. If it all gets a bit too heated, cool down with some devilishly meaty sautéed chorizo with garlic and chive and a mild-flavoured classic Spanish omelette. Though served separately, we quite enjoyed the savoury combo of the two on a forkful.
Traditional seafood paella
Slow-roasted suckling pig
Yes, there are still mains to be served, and Olé’s not stingy about them either. Tuck into their traditional seafood paella, a saffron-seasoned creation loaded with mussels, prawns and squid, as well as a paella of the day. A bit like playing Russian roulette, we didn’t know which one we’d be served from a selection of four (chicken, chorizo, squid ink or Valenciana), but we seemed to have hit the jackpot with the paella chorizo. The steaming paella pan, called a paellera, was walked out of the kitchen and through the dining room, gifting us with a rich whiff of freshly prepared paella and teasing our eager taste buds. ‘Enough with the seafood,’ we hear you say. Well, you’re in luck; there’s also a juicy and tender slow-roasted suckling pig, prepared Segovian style, which emphasises the pork’s natural aroma over any extravagant seasonings.
Leche frita (fried milk with toffee reduction)
Though the pear confit in red wine, caramel pudding and Spanish churros with hot chocolate were all worthy contenders for dessert, the leche frita sounded the most enticing out of the four; we decided that this was to be our well-deserved round-up of the meal. A chunky, wallet-sized slab of fried milk with toffee reduction ended the dizzying brunch, and our eyelids were drooping by the time our server offered us tea and coffee.
But is there alcohol, you ask? Of course there is. Add $88 for all the soft drinks and freshly squeezed juices your little heart desires, $150 for free-flow cava and sangria and $180 if you’d like to tack on red white or white wine to the previous to make your brunch as boozy as any night out. With a live band serenading us with a dulcet cover of The Calling’s ‘Wherever You Will Go’ and acoustic versions of The Beatles’ ‘Twist and Shout’ and Ben E King’s ‘Stand By Me’, we got to eat, drink, dance in our seats and sing along in a jovial, exuberant atmosphere where anyone is welcome and everyone is family.
A perfect precursor for a wholesome weekend siesta – feast like a Southern European and then prepare to snooze like one too. If you’re a brunch fiend, this one’s for you. If you’re a brunch beginner, Olé offers an exemplary menu to dip your taste buds in. There’s quite possibly no better brunch option on the market at such an affordable price.
1/F, Shun Ho Tower, 24 Ice House Street, Central, 2523 8624
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s; she’s so stubborn, you couldn’t tell her otherwise.