Had lunch at Olives, and I don't think I'll be returning. The first obstacle is getting in the door at noon. The hostess stand is too close to the door. Not only that but, you must treat the two twenty-two year old hostesses with respect, or they'll be rather strict with you. Many people were offered only small bar tables, and I assumed they had not reserved a table. Either that, or there's a real power game going on here.
We had reservations and got a cushy booth down below. And thank goodness, because the roar generated by the open space on the main level is absolutely deafening. The place is a little mod, and I noticed they had another, identical dining room that they didn't open. Maybe it's open at dinner.
The wines are unusual, and prohibitatively expensive by the glass. The only Sauvignon Blanc offered was $10 a glass, and it was the shortest pour I've ever seen. Others were $8 - $14.
Started with a Yellow Tomato and Fennel Soup with Grilled Shrimp. Disaster. The soup was an exceptionally salty puree, oddly with no trace of tomato or fennel taste. That may have been because the single, head-on shrimp had been blasted with flame and was giving off a terrible acrid, charcoal-like taste to everything. I think the soup was $10.
I followed with red snapper. A serving size piece, slightly over-sauteed, and served with fingerling potatoes and mushrooms and a bit of buttery broth. The menu actually listed about 12 different ingredients in the three-line description, but I found only potatoes and mushrooms. Good, but much simpler than the menu had promised and again, very salty. (I would have had another sip of wine, but I was approaching my credit limit for lunch.) The fish was $19.
Desert was pushed pretty hard with it's own menu and plenty of time to peruse. Expresso was served luke warm. Service, in general though, was fine. Not great. Fine.
Not my kind of place. And once again I have to wonder if I just have a natural inclination to dislike the most popular restaurants in town just because they are so popular? Or are they sub-par because they're so popular? They're certainly not popular because they're sub-par or because I don't like them. Oh well.