Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Cafe Love: Olivessence - The Olive Shop Cafe
Since moving to Footscray just over a year ago, the mister and I have looked on with interest at any new development or promise of a new shop, especially of the culinary variety, in our neighborhood. When a permit for a restaurant or liquor license appears on a boarded up window, the excitement builds and we try to guess what type of cuisine is coming our way. With the following as a prime example, we're not always spot on with our guesses and clearly some things escape our notice.
Last year a shop on Barkly Street caught my eye with it's use of dark wood and bentwood chairs. The business name was hard to make out but I spotted the word 'essence' and wrongly assumed that this must be related to aromatherapy and naturopathy. It took me until December to realise that the sign in fact read Olivessence and was an olive shop and cafe.
Olivessence opened in its new location in the Barkly Theatre in October 2010, having previously operated in nearby Seddon. It's a welcome addition to the Victoria Street end of Barkly Street, an area devoid of options of the espresso variety. I've enjoyed several cups of their Bean Ground and Drunk organic and fair trade coffee.
For one who always has trouble deciding on only one dish, 'Nani's special for one' was the perfect summer lunch. I was very satisfied - so much food!
Tasting plate of olives, warm turkish bread, extra virgin olive oil, dukkah, relish/chutney of the moment (large plate at front), tomato, sweet tips of asparagus and haloumi cheese sprinkled with dukkah of the moment and drizzled with herb infused olive oil (small plate at back, also pictured below). All this for $14, the standout being the dukkah which could very well be the best I've ever tried. Yum.
Nani is the warm, welcoming owner/manager and a strong advocate of reducing food miles by sourcing her products as close to the shop in Footscray as possible. Tall shelves around the shop are stocked with yummy products and oils primarily from around Victoria. Before you buy, oils can be sampled at the tasting bar above!
While the cafe menu is limited to antipasto selections and locally made cakes and biscuits, the combinations are thoughtfully put together and prepared with passion and pride. Nani is clearly knowledgeable and supportive of the local food industry and appears delighted to answer any questions her customers throw at her. Some customers will undoubtedly yearn for more choice on the menu but what's here is surprisingly satisfying and if not, there is plenty to buy for the road or pantry.