Brunch started off in England as a fusion of breakfast and lunch served around noon on Sundays to afford the Saturday-night merry makers an opportunity to catch some sleep. While the modern Sunday brunches still serve pretty much the same purpose, the commercial brunches have evolved into an exercise of excess with free-flowing spirits and never-ending buffets. Every Sunday, restaurants across Hyderabad pull out all the stops to offer their guests everything they want and them some. However, the sheer dominance of Seasonal Taste (Westin) has prompted some to play with the format to differentiate themselves. Jonathan’s Kitchen has found great success with its VFM brunch that offers unlimited alcohol and a five-course meal with unlimited appetizers for just a thousand bucks. Olive, which already had one of the most popular brunches in the city, is has decided to tweak its format to make it more personal.
The new Picnic Brunch format is squarely aimed at reducing food wastage, explained Shaz Mehmood, the proprietor of Olive Bistro Hyderabad. Instead of preparing enormous quantities of food for the buffet, dishes are prepared to order and the portion sizes have been kept small to encourage guests to try more dishes but also to consume what they order.
I was invited to experience the first Picnic Brunch at Olive. Olive Bistro has one of the best locales – the restaurant overlooks the Secret Lake (Durgam Cherevu) and is surrounded by greenery. It’s an absolute joy to spend a lazy afternoon under the sun at Olive. Every table gets its own picnic basket that comes with the day’s newspaper, bread and butter, and fresh juices. Olive Bistro gets pretty crowded on Sundays, so it’s not the place to enjoy a quiet meal. The atmosphere is upbeat and casual with excellent live music and lots of good food. The menu on offer is vast; I counted over forty dishes. I was thrilled to see a wide selection of breads and eggs on offer. I was sharing the table with JetSetEat and EatTripClick, and within no time we had ended up ordering around a dozen different things. We started off with the bread basket, which had two varieties – Banana and Corn. Both were outstanding – fresh, warm, and light. They were paired with Maple Butter and Garlic Cream respectively. The Polenta arrived next and disappeared in seconds. It was an absolute treat – crispy baked polenta and pulled pork covered by a double egg sunny-side up. It was followed by Eggs Benedict, one of my favourites. If I see this dish on the menu, you can bet that I’m gonna order it. The Benedict is always a sight to behold – muffin, breakfast ham and poached egg covered in a rich, creamy hollandaise sauce. Chef had gone a little overboard with the citrus, but it was still pretty delicious. The Steak and Eggs were a disappointment, though. I had indicated to the service staff that I don’t mind my meat being on the rare side, but it absolutely shouldn’t go beyond medium-rare. Alas, what was served was chewy slices of meat that were definitely well done. We asked for a couple of salads – Cobb Salad with lettuce, tomatoes, corn, bacon vinaigrette, and blue cheese cream and Brunch salad with grilled peaches and apricots, raspberry vinaigrette, toasted almonds and bacon rashers. Both the salads were delicious although I was a tad biased towards the nutty, fruity Brunch Salad. The Cobb Salad promised blue cheese, but I spotted only blue cheese cream in the salad.
I stuffed myself with the breakfast dishes – salads, eggs, and breads. It’s the kind of food I love, and it’s the kind of food you’d rarely see in a Sunday brunch. Dishes like Egg Benedict and Polenta can never work in a buffet, and are often deemed too time-consuming for a busy Sunday afternoon brunch. Olive’s Picnic Brunch is ambitious not just in the sheer number of dishes on offer, but also in their complexity and diversity. Keeping things moving while orders are coming in left and right can be challenging. While we received good service, there were points when the service staff seemed to be really tested.
I didn’t order any Entrées since I had little real estate left in my tummy. However, I did taste a bit of what others on the table ordered. The ground beef patty burger, once again, hammered home the strengths of Olive’s more personal touch. A gourmet burger prepared to order in an all-you-can-eat brunch! Some of the other dishes that I liked were the Quiche, the Roast Chicken, and Beef and Root Vegetable Stew. The Monte Cristo Sandwich was among the rare misses – the whole grain sub was way too dry, and the dish would have been better served by a regular sandwich bread.
There were around half a dozen desserts available in a buffet format, and included some excellent dishes like Orange Blossom Ricotta Pancake, Mango & Rhubarb Cheesecake, Peanut Butter & Caramel Blondies, and Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake.
A brunch at Olive is not just about the food, but also about the drinks. The Sangria at Olive is among the best in the city, and is a must try. But, I mostly stuck to the red wine for the day – Sula Satori that paired quite well with the food.
The Olive Bistro Picnic Brunch is priced at Rs. 1990 with alcohol and Rs. 1560 without. Olive’s Sunday ‘Picnic by the Lake’ is a brunch in the truest sense of the term. Start with the breakfast dishes like Breads and Eggs, move on to some comfort food like Chicken Roast and Beef Stew and finish off with some delicious Pancake and Cheesecake. There’s just so much to love in the kind of food and drinks beings served at the brunch that I can’t help but give it a two thumbs up.