Foodie Stuffs

Olives in EGR

Olives Restaurant on Urbanspoon
A once noted quotable from our group is ” I only like you when you eat olives.” We’re not sure of the exact context of this line anymore…other than an overall weakness for olives. So when the restaurant chosen for the Spring Renewal of Dinner Club was Olives (Wealthy Street, East Grand Rapids), of course we had to feature some olives!

Drinks and Mixology
Olives has a nice wine list to choose from with a wide range of varietals, an innovative drink menu, and a few notable draft selections to choose from. I opened with a Gaslight Mule (their take on a Moscow Mule- essentially vodka, ginger beer, and lime). Unfortunately, I shoulda stuck with the Russians!! The Gaslight version was light on flavor and light on the booze…tasted somewhat like watered down….diet gingerale?
Claire’s one request for the evening was Oberon (Bell’s), and she was happily pleased 🙂
Our second round (well technically only my second round), featured Dirty Goose Martinis….mine with blue cheese stuffed olives, while Marcos opted for jalapeno-stuffed olives. And, boy did his eyes pop–with pure joy.

Atmosphere
Claire and I had already been to Olives (a new phase our dinner outings have entered) and knew what to expect. The tightly packed downstairs is buzzing with energy and and volume. It feels like the “it place,” while at the same time instantly overwhelming you with faces and voices and faces and voices. Galore. As soon as you hit the second level, the volume drops and the mood calms. More suited for families, initmate dinners for two, or any grouping of people that actually wants to hear each other, this feels like the “leftover section” you were ushered into (while secretly grateful). Traditional, sunny, and bright.

Food  
1- I ordered the Tamale Pie…interested to see how it would stack up, especially against a warm memory of the tamales Marcos has shared before. The “masa” (cornbreadish mixture) covering the surface of the pie was very tasty. Beneath this layer were flavors of cheddar cheese, a mildly spicy green chile sauce, and chunks of braised pork shoulder. All in all, the flavors worked well in this hearty meal, but the texture of chunky pork (with a heaping of fatty sides) would have worked better as a shredded pork.

2- Pipette Pasta Dish, ordered by Claire, was a traditional pasta dish that easily met her expectations. The curving half-pipes of the pasta were her favorite part.

3- Marcos ordered the Carpaccio Salad, as he announced he is now on a no-carb after 6 diet. This is troubling, as we only meet after 7. So he was limited on the menu. The chilled and thinly sliced meat paired well with the simple salad. Basic and satisfying.

Service
The host, bar, and server staff were all friendly, knowledgeable, and prepared to help. The warm smiles and easy explanations made the experience relaxing. We didn’t ask too many questions, but our server had answers and helpful suggestions when questioned on wine and matching food at the table next to us.

Overall
In the end, another successful round of Dinner Club. While everything met our expectations, we didn’t, however, feel wowed or particularly drawn to any one element. Definitely not a place for large groups, but can work nicely for intimate dinners or impromptu meetings at the bar downstairs. Nothing to rave about. Nothing to complain about. But we are intrigued by so many more menu options we didn’t get a chance to try, especially the small plates/appetizer selections….so we might just be back afterall.

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