I’m a huge fan of Paella and if I see it on a menu then 98% of the time I will order it, especially if I spot the gluten free symbol next to it. I have found it especially difficult however to source out a good Paella in England and even more of a task to try and make a traditional one at home that has the flavours that are so common when I eat it in Spain – I don’t know whether they have a special rice that is different to that sold in the UK, or whether they have a top secret ingredient, but it never quite lives up to the same standard as the best Paella I have ever tasted in a little seaside restaurant on El Sardinero Beach in Santander.
This week though, me and my family celebrated my brother’s birthday at a restaurant in Worcester called The Olive Branch. Specialising in traditional Mediterranean cuisine, I was looking forward to sampling the many choices on offer as I had checked out the menu beforehand and saw many delights that could be whipped up as a gluten free option, including a variety of tempting tapas dishes, pastas, seafood and meat options.
We were given the Christmas menu to choose from and I was more than happy to discover that the traditional Paella, which consisted of a nice mix of prawns, chicken, chorizo, mussels, squid, red pepper and green peas with saffron infused rice was indeed both gluten and dairy free. Thankfully, I had another happy ‘free-fromer’ to share my huge dish with and although the Paella serves two, me and my friend still had nearly half left by the time we had finished.
Now I’m quite a harsh judge of Paella as I’ve tasted so many in Spain, but I have to say I think The Olive Branch has catapulted to the top of my list as being the place that serves ‘the best Paella I’ve ever tasted.’ The variety of fresh seafood and meat was a nice touch, the red pepper was bursting with flavour and the rice was absolutely delicious and not at all bland and stodgy as some can be. The portions were huge and my only regret was that I hadn’t skipped the starter so that I had more room for the main meal.
For starter, I opted for Gambas a la plancha which was king prawns in a chimichurri sauce that had been chargrilled with lemon (winner winner chicken dinner) and then even though I was full to the brim, I ended the night with three scoops of sorbet as nice little refresher.
Overall The Olive Branch far exceeded my expectations. If you love Paella or indeed Mediterranean food as much as I do and find yourself in the Worcester area, you simply have to visit this little gem of a bistro. The setting is lovely, there are three floors to the building and a wine bar at the bottom which I would love to check out on my next visit. I can’t wait to taste test the Tapas menu the next time I’m in town as I’ve spotted some of my favourites on the menu that can be cooked gluten free – pan fried squid, chorizo, king prawns and of course, my favourite Paella.