When my husband whisked me away for an impromptu weekend in Clacton, I had no idea where we would find for food. Arriving at just gone 12pm and not being able to check in to our hotel until 2pm, we decided to prowl the street for a nearby café to grab some lunch. Clustered with shops and a strong sea breeze, we meandered down one the high streets until we stumbled across The Olive Tree, its shiny black awning and bistro sets outside looking quirky and inviting. Attempting to peer through the glass, our hunger got the better of us and we decided to just go for it.
First impressions can certainly be deceiving. What looked like an artisan seafront café from the outside looked more like your grandma’s front room on the inside, the wallpapered walls complete with a dark varnished dido rail, plain white covering the top half and a blood red on the bottom. The dark wooden square tables did nothing to alleviate the slightly cramped space, however the matching brown leather dining chairs proved to be undeniably and surprisingly comfortable. It may look a little bland and homely, however this did put you at ease and create a rather relaxed atmosphere. It’s a casual and easy place, somewhere where you don’t have to worry about dressing up.
Tucked in a tiny corner away from the breeze of the front door, we started perusing the menu. It was full of your traditional café classics, featuring everything from all day breakfasts, omelettes and burgers, to paninis, sandwiches and pasta. I ordered a cappuccino and a jacket potato with cheese, while Dan ordered a tea to go alongside his ham and cheese omelette. First things first, the cappuccino was in no way, shape or form a coffee of any description. It was a weird grey colour of messed around with milk, hidden under an appetising and cocoa dusted froth on top. It didn’t taste like coffee in the slightest and I was severely disappointed in this lack of caffeine. On the plus side, Dan said his tea was top notch so at least one of us had something we could drink.
We waiting ages for our food, which was really odd considering it wasn’t anything too complex or time consuming. My food also came out quite a bit before Dan’s, which is always awkward when you want to eat together but also want your food to be warm. My lunch however really hit the nail on the head and I did enjoy it. I don’t have jacket potatoes often so it was great getting stuck into this. It was a decent size, the melted butter pooling slightly at the bottom of the potato skin, adding flavour but not swimming around the plate which was nice. The mountain of grated mature cheddar on top was also lovely and just the right amount. The potato was served with a side salad, which contained a mix of different salad leaves, raw red onion, peppers, olives, tomato slices and cucumber. After flinging my cucumber at Dan, I really enjoyed this salad, the onion in particular really working nicely with the cheese. It was simple but tasty and I polished my plate off nicely. The potato was fluffy and soft, the skin firm but not crispy, more of a case for the cheese topped innards rather than a component of the flavour or texture.
Dan’s omelette was served with the same style of salad as well as some of the largest chips I have ever seen, cut rustically from whole potatoes by the looks of things. Lovely and fluffy on the inside they certainly looked tasty. Dan’s omelette looked rather overcooked on the outside, however he said the flavour was nice and he still enjoyed his meal.
For our two hot drinks and two meals, we paid around £14. They only accept cash so that is something to bear in mind if you are going to pay The Olive Tree a visit too. Although our waitress was very friendly, I did find the service slow, and considering the style of meals available, there was no need for service to be in slow mo. A nice, tasty and unfussy meal, I would just say this was average. But please, don’t order a cappuccino! You’ll regret it!