I was very much looking forward for a romantic dinner here with my fiancee tonight after mostly positive reviews on CH. I would have rather gone to Manka's but they're still closed due to their fire. There was one review that stuck out in my mind however, claiming the original chef had gone from Olema and things weren't the same. Well, I'm not sure what Olema was like before, but tonight was a major disappointment.
Heirloom tomato salad with arugula and crispy shallots
Seared Cortez scallops and pork belly with frisee and honey whatever
Halibut with parsnip puree and salsify ribbons
NY steak with braised cheeks, fresh garbanzos, Pt. Reyes blue and demi glace
I'm generally wary of overly creative menu items, especially so in small towns. We ordered the first two items to test the waters. The tomato salad was tasty, if nondescript. The scallops weren't exactly pristine, but not bad either, the execution fine. We deemed it "good", and ordered our entrees shortly after. During this time we had several encounters with our server, Patrick, who was completely humorless, stiff, and downright rude.
The Halibut was slightly overcooked, the accoutrement slightly overpowering to its delicate flavor, but the fish was fresh and of good quality. The portion was definitely small for a $30 price tag, it appeared to be a 5 oz filet. Restaurants can probably get fresh halibut for around $12/lb right now so a 5 oz portion at $30 represents a more than four-fold markup. The steak was in worse condition. I don't know what kind of NY cut this was, but it was absolutely lean and flavorless. Lean is one thing if it is grassfed; this did not taste like it. Down the street at the butcher they sell grassfed NY steaks that are *also* 21-day aged. They could easily procure these and sell them, and this would have been much more flavorful and tender than what we had. It was also overcooked to medium. I was impressed by the fresh garbanzos. It didn't occur to us until afterward that we hadn't noticed the beef cheeks. When my fiancee mentioned it to our server, he couldn't have sounded more condescending or rude, "You see those small cubes? The ones that looked and tasted like mushrooms? Those were beef cheeks." If they were beef cheeks, they were the most mushroom-like beef cheeks I've ever had. I've prepared beef cheeks myself and they become soft and tender, not "mushroom-y".
Our wines by the glass were actually quite good. The wine list was fairly priced by my standards. It was somewhat limited but offered some good local California options.
Final bill was $145.
We declined dessert and were resigned to writing management a letter about our server when we saw the owner outside. We mentioned that the space was beautiful, the food good, but our server who was rude. He immediately knew that it was Patrick and instead of empathizing, started making excuses; "Oh, well, he just got back from 4 days in Tahoe and he's probably tired. He's one of our most experienced servers." We realized this was going nowhere and bid our farewell. He informed us that he had just moved to Olema 2 years ago from L.A. and this pretty much answered everything. We were here to get away from L.A. and this owner reminded us of the things we dislike about it. Making excuses for rude service is a clear sign you shouldn't be in the restaurant industry.
Both of us are in the restaurant industry and are probably the most patient and forgiving diners a restaurant could hope for. I'm not going to make assumptions about the owners/management/employees of Olema Inn but they should probably get their act together before they go under. I'm telling everyone I know to skip it and just buy meals at the Cowgirl Creamery (beautiful picnic foods). Wish us luck at Marshall's tomorrow...