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New Olives Restaurant in Calgary?

John Gilchrist's article in the Herald on June 29 mentions the upcoming opening of a new restaurant called Olives in the Arriva condo tower on 12th Avenue SE. Does anyone know if it has opened yet and, if so, does anyone have any reviews?

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  1. According to release from Torode's Arriva condo developement: "Olives is the third restaurant to be operated by the Hotel Arts Group and will open on July 4th on the main floor of arriVa at the corner of 12th Avenue and Olympic Way SE. Olives specializes in innovative Italian cuisine created by Chef Johnathan Canning in a lively setting furnished with contemporary decor imported from Italy. Dine at the food bar and be inspired by Chef Canning as he creates dishes before your eyes. Relax in comfort in the lounge or dining room while sampling from a wide array of wines from across the Italian countryside. Drop by our deli market and select a gourmet meal to go."
    Although slated for opening on Friday, I saw a full complement of patrons there yesterday (assuming it was a private function for special guests of the restaurant). With the opening of Olives, as well as the three restaurants in the new Stampede Casino (Bambu Noodle House, Grasslands Cafe, 1912 Bar & Grill), the dining options in Victoria Park have inreased in a hurry.

    1 Reply
    1. re: sidepockets

      Thanks sidepockets, and your comment about Vic Park is so true- there's also La Vita e Bella which has apparently withstood it construction-related challenges.

      Oh, and you get a white Smithbilt for spelling "complement" correctly- suddenly the whole English-speaking world has forgotten the difference b/t "compliment" and "complement"!

    2. i drive by everyday - it looks about ready for tomorrow, tables are set :)

      1. Did anyone else read the title of this post, and immediately think that Todd English was opening a restaurant in Calgary?

        3 Replies
        1. re: unclerufus

          Quite funny - that was what I thought as well.

          1. re: unclerufus

            Speaking for myself, no, just because this has been on the radar here for a while, with the Hotel Arts connection and all that.

            1. re: unclerufus

              wonder if there will be a problem with the other Olives?

            2. I drove by last night, saw people at tables and wondered too. Thanks for the explanation.

              1. The food was absolutely fantastic....artisticly presented... Decor fresh yet cozy. Fine dining service but not uncomfortably posh. Good atmosphere/friendly service...$20-$40 a plate...fantastic wine list! I had the veal bolognese which was absolutely delicious and tried some of the gnocchi. Still can't decide which one was better. The bolognese was pretty good sized, gnocchi portion smaller....i'd suggest getting an apetizer to start if you're really hungry.

                1. Very tasty, I sampled everything on the appie menu. Standouts included the mushroom flatbread, the gazpacho with tuna tartare, and the beet and fennel salad.
                  Very enthusiastic service.

                  1. i just got back from wine and a snack at Olives - lovely! i am not familiar with any of the wines, so the server suggested a couple and brought both for us to taste and decide (nice touch) we shared the mushroom/boccocini flatbread...it was delicious! super light yet a little bit rich at the same time, lovely blend of mushrooms - i will go back for a full meal their menu looks delicious as does the desert menu.

                    we made a stop at 100 wines next door before hand and they have an Olives shelf with some feature wines and suggested pairings, very nice!

                    great service at both places - I hope they pick up, it was a bit quiet - so delicious though - get out there and try it!! i didn't think it was over priced either which is a nice change in Calgary these days

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: pants

                      I was just there for a friend's bday. The restaurant was beautiful and the food was terrific. There was 5 of us and we all agreed that the best dish was the ravioli. It's like a dessert pasta because it is stuffed with marscapone cheese.

                      We all ordered different entrees and they were all great, except for the Ahi Tuna. It was tough on the outside and a bit stringy as well. The halibut and the Angus steak was terrific. For an appie, the clams are amazing...they were just a tad on the cool side though, but still delicious.

                      We will definitely be going back to sample some of the other menu items!

                        1. re: foodcric8

                          We were there 2 weeks ago and were absolutely impressed with the food. I was enthralled with the chain mail curtain that hangs in the entrance of the restaurant! We shared the antipasto platter to start and were happy to pick at the bread they shared. For what they charge for their by the glass wine I was impressed with the very generous portion they gave us.

                          Hubby had the rib eye steak and was very impressed. My friend had the veal bolognese which was also great. The standout for the 3 of us was the ravioli as well (which I was loath to share). I would go back over and over just for that.

                    2. just got back from lunch at Olives - yep, new favorite.
                      had the veal bolognese and a big glass of wine - i'm stuffed but it was delicious!!
                      the tuna and ravioli also looked delicious (that's what my lunch companions ate).

                      1. Checked out Olives last night. The room is impressive, it made me feel like I was in another city (in fact it reminded me a lot of Nota Bene in Toronto, which I ate at last week). Since I was alone they offered me a seat at the kitchen "food bar" which gave me a good view of the action in the kitchen (there wasn't much, it wasn't that busy, but it's still fun). I wasn't adventurous, choosing the heirloom tomato salad and the veal bolognese pasta both of which were very good, tiramisu for dessert also very good, and I liked the olive plate to start too. Service was enthusiastic and professional, although my waiter was attention deficit: he thought I was having gazpacho for the appetizer and brought me an extra spoon even though he had recommended the tomato salad, and then brought me tiramisu when I ordered the chocolate torta (no big deal, I was happy either way).

                        It's certainly not cheap, but I did feel that I was getting good value overall. I booked dinner for 4 on Saturday night, I expect everyone will have a good time.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: alley

                          i was there for dinner last thursday night and last night again - i enjoy it everytime, i'm making my way through the menu and the wine list and getting to know the wait staff. i really like that they bring you a couple of wines to taste and let you decide from there.

                          the only thing is the portion sizes are all over the map, somethings are a good size while others are surprisingly small...

                          1. re: pants

                            Had dinner there last Friday. We loved it. The ravioli is a first course, so small in size, but fun to share. Also visited 100 wines next door before dinner and was quite pleased with the service in there. Between dinner and the wine shop, and the Stampede Casino afterwards, turned into quite the expensive night!

                        2. Just got back from Olives with partner and two friends visiting from TO- and it was a superb experience! Appies were amazing, just amazing- my tomato gazpacho with ahi tuna tartar was explosive but the highlight was the "flatbreads"; we split two among the four of us (tomato-chorizo and mushroom) and they were incredibly good, gossamer thin crust and mmmmm, could have eaten these all day. We all had pastas for "mains"; two pappardelle with veal bolognese, INCREDIBLE, perfectly done pasta with seriously rich bolognese; partner had gnocchi, similarly amazing; third was clam linguini which was described as underwhelming (too small clams, sauce not "big" enough) but to this point all was superb. Deserts- they need a bit of work; tiramisu uses ricotta not mascarpone in a sort of parfait and it's tasty but not tiramisu, really; my gelato was very weird, like something went wrong in production but it was taken off the bill. Cappos/espressos were fine (but no Kawa Espresso Bar, still, very good for resto espresso-based drinks). So while deserts were underwhelming, appies and mains (minus clam linguini) were outstanding. Service was just marvelous to boot, and space (and washrooms!!!!!) are pure class.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: John Manzo

                            John, thanks for the review. I appreciate the two produce different cuisines but how would you compare Olives to Chef's Table in terms of quality? I've been to Chef's Table about four times and I think it is my favourite resto in town,

                            Thanks,
                            Hart

                            1. re: Hart50

                              They're very different experiences- Chef's Table is this intimate room but Olives is very much a "big city" resto with high ceilings and all sleek and modern. Olives is more affordable (but not inexpensive, really); now having said that, I'd say that the quality at Olives is as top-notch as it needs to be considering the cuisine is a bit less inventive/challenging- Theo does things that you might not think would work, but do; at Olives, you sort of "know" that a crispy flat bread with oven-dried tomatoes and chorizo will PROBABLY be delicious, and it is.

                            2. re: John Manzo

                              LOVE the mushroom flatbread!! salty goodness

                            3. We went to Olives last night for our anniversary -- beautiful, sophisticated room, loved the chandeliers.

                              I can attest the mushroom flatbread is amazing, I would love to know how they get the crust so melt-in-your mouth like a tender cracker. The Gnocchi with Ox Tail Ragu had beautiful flavors, but to split hairs I found the ragu a little watery, maybe from the wilted mache that they put in. Husband ordered the Parsnip and Marscapone Ravioli with Truffle Oil -- oh my oh my! Stunning flavors. We debated ordering another, but decided not to. My angus beef rib-eye was done on the rare side of medium rare, and was very tender.

                              The Chocolate and Pistachio Torta with Pistachio Gelato was overall good, but as someone else said, the gelato had a weird consistency to it, filled with ice crystals. Excellent flavor, though. We talked with the manager, who in turn went to the kitchen. Turned out it had not been processed properly. You would think they could get it right, I'm sure our complaints weren't the only ones.

                              Overall, we would return, hoping to try the Veal Bolognese and of course to get more of those ravioli!

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: sweeterpea

                                Happy anniversary!

                                On deserts- you know, partner got a tiramisu from Olives to Go the other day- and it's way better than that tiramisu "parfait" they actually serve in the resto. It's made with proper mascarpone (not ricotta) and it's HUGE, plenty desert for two people, and was only $5.95! Makes me (1) want to try more stuff from Olives to Go, but (2) wonder why the takeout shop can do desert better than the resto.

                                Having said that, there's no question this place is a breath of fresh air for Calgary- big-city beautiful with great food at prices that are not completely ridiculously high. Many similarities with Jaro Blue even though the scale of the two places is very different.

                                1. re: John Manzo

                                  Thanks, John. Prices are just slightly higher than La Vita e Bella just down the road -- but flavors and food quality quite a bit better. Certainly a place we will return to time and time again. I wonder if the same owners are opening Zia's Enoteca as well -- seems strange there would be two Italian restaurants in the same complex.

                                  1. re: sweeterpea

                                    Olives is part of the Hotel Arts Group, but Zia's is independent.

                              2. I have yet to try Olives but a friend of mine had dinner there this week with some of his friends before a Flames game and he said it was awful. Apparently, the restaurant was full and it was chaos trying to serve the patrons in time for them to get to the game. He also mentioned the food was not particularily stellar. His experience certainly gives me pause as to whether I try it out for myself.

                                10 Replies
                                1. re: Hart50

                                  Went there for lunch. Was there over an hour just getting a main course. Server was right out of Rickis (it seemed). Water glasses were dirty and wet when they arrived, and noticed gentleman at another table picking something off the side of the glass. Table next to us was a large group that sat and talked business, not even looking at what they put in there mouths. Veal bolognese pasta was watery and grey in color, tomatoes used must have been fresh (skins in the sauce were the only red color in it). Ravioli was pretty good, but mushrooms under it were not seasoned. I guess its a good place for lunch crowd or large groups going on to the stampede center, but why should you "not" have terrific food for lunch or before a game??

                                  1. re: calgaryeater

                                    Ate at Olives last night (Wed night) no hockey game crowd, although the lounge was quite busy and the restaurant was over half full. I dined at the food bar again facing the kitchen and tried the autumn dinner recommendation: a tasty, chunky tomato soup with prawns and squid; the veal bolognese; and the tiramisu, with a couple of good glasses of wine. I was a bit concerned reading the most recent posts, but everything was fine, service was attentive, the food was tasty. I suppose I would be careful choosing this restaurant at peak times based on the above reviews, but my experiences there so far have all been good and I still enjoy the feel of the place.

                                    1. re: alley

                                      i was there on saturday with a group - everything was delicious and service was great!

                                      1. re: alley

                                        I was there on Wednesday too! I like the tiramisu. Very rich and creamy, as one expects, but also not too sweet or overpowering in the soaked lady fingers. Very nice.

                                        1. re: hornvixen

                                          Unfortunatley I join the ranks of those who were underwhelmed with their Olives experience. I enjoyed my service from the individual who looked after us but the "floor manager"' was clearly inexperienced and was misinformed about the food that she was explaining to us. I found the food ranged from overly seasoned to completely underseasoned with each course. I was not there on a busy night rather a quiet Sunday evening when they were open this summer. The bolognese that has seen some rave reviews was laden with cream, lacking salt and was overcooked. Panacotta tasted like it had been sitting in the fridge.....for days. Grilled calamari was cooked properly and then doused with expensive salt that needed to be used in significantly smaller doses. Quite unfortunate, as I loved the bright open room and thought that the wine list had been priced well. This was my second visit to the restaurant, the first visit involved an antipasti plate in which the bartender was unable to identify any of the items.

                                            1. re: KitchenScraps

                                              Not sure I understand all the rave reviews of this place. The room is certainly interesting, but noisy and crowded, a room for people who want to be seen rather than a room for people who want to eat. We arrived on time for our reservations and then waited 45 minutes at the bar for a table. Worse, we were essentially ignored during the wait. The food was mundane but properly prepared. The prices were very high given the modest food and poor service---entrees are in the 30s.

                                              1. re: ChrisA

                                                so another decent calgary restaurant joins the ranks of craptacular? and i was gonna try it sometime...

                                                1. re: MeXx

                                                  well, i wouldn't place it in the craptacular bin yet. don't let the reviews here stop you... try it yourself and report back :)

                                                  1. re: marcopolo

                                                    i probably will, and maybe i'll luck out :)

                                    2. Had dinner on a monday night a few weeks back, we ordered a mushroom flatbread, and two pasta dish for main.

                                      The flatbread was tasty, on the other hand the whole mixture of mushroom we found 1 (one) Chanterelle beside the other 2 types of mushroom, come on: how expensive can Chanterelle be these days, I am sure you can put more than one on it.

                                      My girlfrend had a ravioli, I think is too sweet, taste more like a dessert than a savory course.
                                      The pasta bolognese that I have was good, but not great.

                                      For some odd reason Olives reminds me a lot of Mercato on 4th??? I mean the pasta bar, the open kitchen, and the grocery department??? Can they be little bit more creative???

                                      I probably will go back, but not any time soon.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: wine guru

                                        It appears it was their goal to copy Mercato but I prefer Mercato.

                                      2. We were at Olives this past weekend and it was absolutely full. We very much enjoyed our meal and the service. My husband and I went with another couple and we enjoyed the mushroom soup and beef carpaccio to start and both were delicious. The beef carpaccio, drizzled with truffle oil and served with a tomato salsa-style side, was my favorite dish of the night. We had the ahi tuna and parsnip and marscapone ravioli for the main course. Both were quite good as well but I do agree with the other reviewer that the sweetness of the ravioli balanced with the parsnip flavour was definitely a different combination. For dessert we shared the tiramisu with espresso gelato and I really enjoyed that. The presentation and flavors were not traditional and I preferred it. Overall with two bottles of wine, aperitifs and port with dessert, we were at $100 per person for dinner before tip which to us we felt was pretty comparable to other Calgary establishments serving the same kinds of food. The service was very decent. The recommendations by the waiter on both the food and wine were reliable and we enjoyed the evening. I do agree with other reviewers that the room can be quite loud and as the restaurant was full, I did notice that but really, we weren't out for a quiet, romantic dinner so it didn't both us at all.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Jenn K

                                          Exactly- this is a big-city, urban dining room. If you want quiet conversation, go to Chef's Table, a partner restaurant.

                                        2. I went in for a late dinner after a day of riding yesterday on sunshine. I was actually planning to go to Il Centro(One of my favs and since I'm regular service is great) but as I was picking up my friend I drove past olives and saw a few open tables. We were both dressed well so I made the short jaunt back to Olives.
                                          The place had a few empty tables and those were filled up once Dane Cook finished up at the dome. It's an open space and nicely done. We shared 5 appies, I won't really go into the specifics b/c each of these dishes has been praised here before. But what I did want to add to this thread is Olives was great in all regards; service, atmosphere, and food presentation and taste. Nice touch by the gentleman who brought out the food pointing out all the components of every dish and arranging all the plates and bringing out special ones since we had lots of dishes on our normal size two person table. I should also add the seats were comfy in the resto side.
                                          As I left as a very satisfied customer it reminded me (The menu, space etc.) of a classy Cactus Club. I've never been to a cactus club in Calgary but always go the Glass facade one in DT Vancouver and have a wonderful time and meal. I've been known to order a half dozen beef carpaccios for only two ppl with squash ravioli along with plenty of alcoholic bevies I make the one block walk to my hotel I always stay at a happy camper.
                                          I give Olive two big thumbs up, this place makes sense for almost any occasion with a fine dining side and lounge.

                                          1. I just love this restaurant. Every time I go I have good food. I like the wine list - it pairs nicely with their dishes. If you want to buy any of it just pop next door to 100 vines and there you go - take out wine!

                                            I like the trendy modern feel. I like the parking options. This is a great place for the business lunch - a good compromise between the downtown and non-downtown clients alike.

                                            One thing I really like about this restaurant is that it caters to foodies and non-foodies alike. Many of the dishes have simple comfort food at heart (a tuna melt, spaghetti bolognese, pizza) but they are done to a beautifully gourmet level - without offending those who "just don't get it."

                                            So for all you foodies looking for a place that you can enjoy without overwheliming your more "gauche" companions in terms of ingredients or pice point - go to Olives.

                                            Best to make a reservation if there is something at the dome!