Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Olive's Restaurant and Bar, 2162 Wealthy, East Grand Rapids - 1/5/10
Recommended by a friend, Olive’s in East Grand Rapids was today’s choice. The setting is very pleasant and welcoming, and the lunch crowd was light. Located on a corner, there are large windows on two sides, seating upstairs, and an upper outdoor deck for our one month of summer (they call it “three-season” so it must be somewhat protected). There were about 14 or so tables for 4, and a small bar. One server and two chefs made up the employees and our server was great, friendly and informative. Our table was beneath a small opening to the kitchen that our server used to ask the chef a couple of questions for us; very friendly service.
At first glance, the menu looked ordinary (except for the appetizers) but when you read the listed ingredients it became apparent that this was not an ordinary menu. It varied somewhat from the online menu, which is a good indicator that they’re serving fresh ingredients that are available to them at that time.
Appetizers (“Small Plates”) consisted of five selections, all unique and interesting. We selected Lettuce Wraps: Boston Lettuce, stir-fried chicken, green onion, shitake, water chestnuts, wontons, and Asian dipping sauce. Very nicely presented, the dish included 5 red dots of what we assumed was hot sauce, and a small taste confirmed that. We asked our server what it was specifically, and he called the chef to the window to ask him. It’s called “Sriracha” and it is really, really hot. The chef said it “has a really nice kick to it”. Yes, indeed. This dish was amazingly good.
We then ordered a Cuban Panini (our server’s favorite item) and another appetizer, Mushroom Crostini. The panini included mojo marinated pork, caramelized ham, provolone, and aioli, on sourdough bread. The aioli was described as whole grain, which we didn’t understand but perhaps it was meant to apply to the bread. The sandwich came with a house-made pickle and lightly seasoned fries. Very good. The Mushroom Crostini sounded too interesting to pass up: sauteed wild mushrooms, toasted baguette, herb goat cheese, scallion oil, and demi sauce. And it tasted as good as it sounded. Our server once again had steered us right: it was large enough to be a main course and it was delicious. And like the other two selections, it was a great combination of flavors, beautifully presented.
The menu is not extensive but each item sounds intriguing. Olive’s is not trying be all things to all people but concentrates on making fewer items very well. Prices range as follows: Small Plates 9-14, Salads 5-13, Soups 5-7, Sandwiches 7-12, and Burgers 9-11. Olive’s has a full bar and they probably get a larger dinner crowd than lunch, but this was a great lunch.