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Southern New England

Bad experience at Hope & Olive


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Restaurants & Bars Southern New England

Bad experience at Hope & Olive

Genovapernoi | | Jul 10, 2008 09:21 AM

Hi all, I just want to let you know about a recent dining experience at Hope & Olive in Greenfield. We were a group of four adults, all foodies in our own way. Being fairly recent (2 years on) transplants to western Massachusetts/Pioneer Valley, we have struggled to find truly good places to dine in the area, and we were very hopeful about this place based on positive reviews and comments from coworkers. Every one of us was disappointed and both of us as couples decided we would NOT go back.

The booth we sat at was too far away from the seats, so you had to be perched on the edge uncomfortably while eating. Uneven aesthetics in the room -- some nice lighting but also "dusty rose" formica booth table straight from the 80s. Loud space as others have noted -- really made communication difficult. Packed on a Wednesday evening, even early.

Our server was new to the profession but that would have been fine with us if she was by nature halfway attentive -- but she didn't know the menu, had to go back and ask in response to every single question, didn't pre-empt orders with news of things they were out of, didn't check on us after our main course was served to see if we needed anything, tried to take our credit card a second time after it had been rung up.

The selection of beers was disappointing -- dominated by Berkshire Brewing which makes rather ho-hum beers in our opinions. Served up nicely though, not in traditional pint glasses but instead in more fashionable tall glasses -- but I wonder if they were a true 16 oz.

Apps were acceptable -- arugula salad with Italian sausage, fennel, and other bits was by our friends' report decent. We had the catalan shrimp -- fresh, nice grilled taste, but strangely placed on the plate with a pile of marcona almonds next to them. Let's just say the composition was curious.

The main courses became the main disappointment. My husband's steak was tough and not very flavorful, and tasted cheap quality -- the twice-baked potatoes bland, and an unadorned small pile of lettuce leaves (no dressing either) just added insult to injury at the $22 price tag. A friend's beef stroganoff with "hand-cut noodles" -- were we believe actually from a package dried egg noodles, and the dish was not creamy or flavorful at all but instead some small strips of sad looking beef in a bland sauce, on top of the crappy noodles, then a little spoon of sour cream on top -- a relatively small portion compared to other main courses (the place is uneven in that regard) -- for $16!!! My pork chop was tough and dry to the core, but they did not even provide me with a steak knife to try tearing through the leather. Huge quantity (two slices), two very dry and heavy hush puppies, "potato salad" with chunks of potato that were badly dried out I presume from the baking process, nondescript uninteresting "corn salsa", and collards that had been cooked/presented so carelessly that there were big cut wads from the original uncooked stack of leaves still hanging together in piles from the cutting process. It was awful, and I really mean awful. Ironically, the best meal was had by the friend who ordered the "tempeh reuben" -- the cheapest and most casual dish of them all.

Dessert was overdetermined by granola -- which went into the cheesecake crust and as a topping for the fruit crisp. Maybe not everyone's pet peeve, but I'm not interested in seeing something virtuous in my dessert, on those rare times I decide to do dessert!! How annoying -- something should either be healthy and virtuous and state its intentions up front, or decadent -- but these dishes were rich but tried to pretend that they had healthy qualities to them.

Most places we have visited in the Valley have been disappointing -- compromises in all directions on authenticity, so much of the same thing repeated (this I think is an east-coast thing generally -- with people balking if Caesar salad and shrimp scampi aren't on every menu), overpriced and self-satisfied establishments, especially in Northampton. Anyway, for about the same price one could have a lovely dinner at the Night Kitchen, one true exception in the area, which for every point given here, the opposite prevails at that lovely place.

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