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Dec 6, 2007 08:11 AM

Olives....olive garden?

We decided to eat at Todd English's, OLIVES, last night since i have never been there and it seems to be such a Boston Dining Staple.

We started by having a drink at the bar, where the bartender finally noticed us and promptly gave us our drinks. The space seem to be busy, the staff moving like a colony of ants, and for the most part the guest seem pleased. We were finally seated and waited to be attended by our server. The server was pleasant and seemed to know what was on the menu and how to describe each dish we asked about. We had some wine and snacked on the bread and olive trio. The bread was good, but a little too much olives. The green olive spread was way too salty, but the rest wasn't that bad.

We were suprised by the size of our first course! The carpaccio was so big, that it became unappitizing. We felt that more isn't always better, hense the side of beef on the plate garnished with a garden of large leaf lettuce and heavy handed balsamic dressing. The potatoes on the plate were delightful, i must say. Sadly, the rabbit cacciatore special failed to win our approval. Though the polenta was edible, it did not compensate for the lifeless "cacciatore"! Maybe if the tendon and bone i bit in to had not been present, i would have enjoyed it....probably not!! It was by far the worst thing i had during our dinner.

Overwhelmed by theTexas size apps, we were concerned with our maincourse. The duck al'orange was anything but what the name suggested. I'm all for the practice of fusion or the "new twist", but many times "fusion" seems more like "confusion". Though it did have an orange segment and some sort of orange sauce, the dish took on more of an asian feel than the more familar French dish. I'm ok with that, just don't serve it with some sort of carrot-rootveg-mashed potato!! The duck breast though tasty with its "hoisin jus" and toasted sesame seeds, was overcooked and dry. The cabbage and veggie garnish was underseasoned and BLAHHHH! DC had the pork dish, which suggested it came with an apple butter, yet it was served with diced apples. Also the waiter didn't suggest a temp the chef likes to serve the gigantic pork chop, so I as a cook myself assumed it would come mr or med, nope, med well to well......strange. It was tasty, but again the portion size was ridiculous.

This is too long, so I'll cut to the chase. Way to expensive for the quality of food, not quantity, shady service. Boston has some serious dining issues. Big attitudes by the chefs/owners, crappy food from what seems to be the big gun restaurants. We've given up on the Boston Dining Scene.

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  1. You're about 10 years too late re your take on Olives, which means it's way too early for you to pronounce Boston's dining scene worthless. Olives was great once, but it's long since passed its heyday. If you do a search, you'll see that most recent reports are as mixed as yours; it's hardly the "staple" you claim.

    4 Replies
    1. re: tatamagouche

      Can't imagine who's recent recommendations the OP was operating on to select Olives as a dining destination.

      1. re: Taralli

        I was thinking the same thing. Also wondering who considers this a "Boston Dining Staple" -- not many of us here, that's for sure. Interesting to write off all of Boston's dining based on a visit to this place, though...

        1. re: Taralli

          The negativity isn't unanimous. There are at least a couple of Boston hounds who are still fans: I think hoplover praised it recently, and there's another, who sounds like an industry type, who admires Joe Brenner, the longtime, then gone, now back again executive chef.

          1. re: MC Slim JB

            I think Olives is very good. I am still salivating over the ribs and corn puree I had there this summer. We are going with a guest from out of town tomorrow night - and I am looking forward to it. The carpaccio OP mentions is one of my favorites - although I admit I like the way they prepare it in the DC Olives much better where the gorgonzola rosti cake in the C-Town Olives prep is supplanted with a polenta cake and gives the dish more richness - it is a nice counterpoint to the arugula (not overly dressed in my experience - AND BTW - it is a scallion aioli - not a balsamic dressing) and also a nice accompaniment to the roasted balsamic cipploines. The beef is perfection. I might consider that dish as my very last meal. I cannot say I have had a bad meal there recently - we probably go there 4-5 times per year and another 2-3 sitting at the bar. I will pay close attention tomorrow night and report back - but still, I count myself as a fan.

      2. A lot of folks here, myself for one, would have steered you away from that once-great restaurant that's now kind of a tourist trap to many worthier places with better prices. Would you care to comment on some of the other places you've been to that also disappointed you? I hope you're not judging the entire Boston dining scene on Olives alone.

        1. Olives... Boston is a great city to love olives -- salty and cinamon small black ones from Courthouse seafood, excellent dry cured ones and decent selection of briny ones from Wine and Cheese, Formaggio for far too many great olives, Sessa's for inexpensive dried cured, Trapelo and Belmont St for good shopping, bacalhau a bras at Portugalia, Brazilian Salpicao, Oleana for warm olives, even fried olives at Sagra (never tried).

          Oh, you were talking about Todd English. Oh well, as hard as it is to miss his empire in Boston, most hounds try. Don't think he has even been in the kitchen at most locations. I am hoping that Cisco Brewery gives Logan travelers some other welcome than Kingfish Hall. Even the most (over) hyped hound destinations are likely to give you a much better meal.

          1 Reply
          1. re: itaunas

            The fried olives at Sagra are addictive.

            I like the olives in the bins at Arax Market in Watertown.

            Oh. Todd English's Olives. Got it.

          2. In one of its later incarnations, Olives did some very interesting theme dinners around a single vegetable, and it was worth a detour.

            I'm not a fan of the chain. Everyone would benefit if Olives got back to its roots - there is talent out there to help make it happen.

            1. I like to capitalize my Nouns too. I think it's best for you to give up on the Boston Dining Scene too if the only place you eat out at is Olives.