Aperitivo at Olives by Todd English - Venetian Village, Abu Dhabi

Olives by Todd English, the Mediterranean restaurant at Venetian Village, adjacent to the grounds of the Ritz-Carlton in Abu Dhabi, has been having an Aperitvo evening for the last few months, and I recently tried it out. The concept is easy enough. For 85AED++, you can enjoy a free flow of selected drinks as well as one serving of bar bites. At a time when everyone is saving dirhams, I thought it a good idea to see how it translates to value for money. 

To avail of the offer, I had to sit in the bar area. It is a cosy, luxurious place to have a drink and is one of the nicer albeit lesser known bars around. You can never go wrong with plush leather seats. However, I would have liked the option to sit anywhere since it is served at the table. However, I can see why it is served in the bar - it is about creating life in the bar too. 

I get to try all the bar bites this evening. The Truffle risotto tartar tots are delicious, alliteration notwithstanding - I love the name! They are crispy on the outside and the familiar risotto texture on the inside.  I also try the Pepperoni flatbread - not quite pizza, but a fancier version and with a much crispier and less bready crust. 

On the drinks' side, there is a choice of red, white, beer and a selected number of cocktails. Considering the Aperitovo lasts for 2 hours, the drinks offering is more than adequate. I particularly enjoy the South African Chenin Blanc - recommended.

The final bar bite I try is my favourite on the night - the Olives Mezze - a board of 6 different mezze including baba ganoush, tapenade and  sundried tomatoes. The bread, a deliciously crispy focaccia complete a very good bar bite. 

With the menu what it is, it works if you go as part of a group. This way you get to share with others, but if you go alone, the mezze is definitely the one to order. 

One needs to bear in mind that an aperitif is not a meal. Similarly, the Aperitivo at Olives is not. It is an ideal way to start an evening at the restaurant with an affordable concept. The bar allows one to sit with a favourite book and it is likely you will enjoy the peace because it is not one of the noisier pre-dinner evenings you will find. I really liked it because of the bottom line of 85AED++, a couple decent wines for two hours plus a choice of some typical Olives small dishes created by Chef Jaime Mendoza - the latter being reason enough to try it. And, you will get to experience a restaurant that might just pull you back for the full on experience of dinner afterwards.

The Essentials,
Olives by Todd English,
Venetian Village at Ritz Carlton
00 +971 2 4041941
85AED++ Sunday to Wednesday 5pm-7pm

Brandon Stoltenkamp
Disclaimer: I was invited to try Olives Aperitivo by the restaurant