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Olives: the other side of the story

Posted by Devra First  July 18, 2012 04:12 PM

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Eater Boston offers a post today summing up my review of Olives.

The post portrays my review as entirely negative, pulling out seven particularly scathing comments. As a critic, I take great care to be fair. This was certainly far from a rave. But it was a 2 star review that did contain praise. In the interest of righting the scales, here are seven positive things I had to say about Olives.

"Right now, it is just what itís meant to be: a bustling, lively neighborhood restaurant that serves as a social hub for those who live nearby."

"Before renovations, Olives was darker, filled with empty booths, dated. Modernized, it feels like a place youíd want to be: more windows than walls, sunflowers at the hostess station, glass bell-jar pendants dim over the wraparound bar, weathered wood panels framing the kitchen."

"On slightly quieter nights, when the staff can actually hear you, they are affable, attentive, and chatty."

"The reasonably priced marinated skirt steak satisfies -- flavorful meat cooked just right, served with short rib ravioli and corn pudding."

"The menu features some clever presentations. A perfect, tiny lobster roll is served with a jar of intensely rich lobster-corn chowder and potato chips dusted with Old Bay; an eye-catching 'stuffed clam' turns out to be a shell brimming with fried whole-belly clams over cornbread."

"Olives remains almost as devoted to big flavors as ever, and while the restaurantís classics no longer feel particularly fresh, they often still taste pretty darn good."

"The combination of butternut squash-stuffed tortelli with brown butter and sage seems a trope today, but when the flavors are in balance, the dish is still a pleasure. (Although if I had to choose between that and the bracing delight of fettuccine tossed with fresh, briny cockles and clams and a mother lode of garlic -- a special one night -- Iíd ditch the tortelli without looking back.)"

As with restaurant dishes, so with blog posts: Presentation matters. Whatever Olives' reopening does or doesn't say about chef Todd English, there's the rest of the restaurant's staff to consider.

About Dishing

What's cooking in the world of food.


Sheryl Julian, the Globe's Food Editor, writes regularly for the Food section.

Devra First is the Globe's food reporter and restaurant critic. Her reviews appear weekly in the Food section.

Ellen Bhang reviews Cheap Eats restaurants for the Globe and writes about wine.

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