Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Olives Meze and Grill Cable beach shops

I went to Olives for lunch with my girlfriend from New York, who gets as excited about food as I do. We were both ravenous and eager to road test the sister restaurant to the downtown branch. It doesn't look like much from the outside but stepping inside is a whole different story.Cavernous and cosy, with an uplit stone relief wall and dark banquette seating, the interior has a sort of trendy Mediterranean taverna feel. We were met with a busy lunchtime service. Locals gossiped and grazed contentedly on Greek delights. Funky lounge music played in the background. Lots of staff buzzed about, ensuring that service ran smoothly. Our waiter was something of a ladies man, buttering us up with small talk and offers of wine. We had various male servers coming at us from all angles, which is not something that usually happens when I’m with my husband.
The owner brought over some complimentary homemade bread, baked by his wife. Soft, fluffy focaccia with caramelised onion embedded in it. Utterly divine.
The menu is very similar to that of the downtown branch, with it’s highly lauded gyros and other delicious Mediterranean specialities. There was a blackboard with specials on, a selection of meze and a list of tempting homemade burgers. The grilled octopus made my eyes light up when I spotted it on the menu. If it was anything like the dish I had at the Greek festival, we were in for a royal treat. Regrettably the kitchen had run out. There were some brilliantly named dishes, like Flaming Saganiki and Louganico. We chose to share a few of the meze starters; Olives Tuna Tataki ($11.50), Calamari ($9.95), Spanakopita $5.95 and a Greek salad $10.95. We had to restrain ourselves to not over-order. Extra napkins were brought over in anticipation of the serious eating we were about to embark upon.
After a short wait, a barrage of gleaming square plates arrive at our table, looking very promising. There was a generous portion of crispy calamari, a plate of mouth watering sliced rare tuna and the Spanakopita; a pastry parcel containing spinach and feta. We dived in with our forks amid squeals of delight. ‘Good food makes me happy’ exclaimed my companion. I couldn’t agree more. Bad food, incidentally, makes me grumpy. The tuna was a bit on the dry side and really benefited from being smothered in the lemon balsamic dressing, which was superb. The squid was lovely and moist, not at all rubbery, with a delicate batter and a tasty marinara sauce. Great value too given the size of the portion we got. The Greek salad was large and well dressed. The Spanakopita was rich, salted and tasty but ultimately too dense, due to the weight of the pastry. It didn’t have the flakiness of filo, more closely resembling pie crust. Overall, though, we were two happy punters.
A complimentary lime and ginger square was brought over the instant we had finished it all. I rounded it all off with a decent espresso.I was really impressed with the service, they had gone the extra mile to make a good impression, whilst maintaining a very relaxed, easy going approach. The prices are very competitive. The addition of Olives will be a real boost to the Cable beach shops. I get the feeling it will become a regular nightime hangout for me. Dinner service is due to start in a couple of weeks, yipee.

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