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Olives in Charlestown--gone?

terrilynn Nov 16, 2010 05:28 PM

Just heard that the windows at Olives in Charlestown were covered in brown paper. Anyone know anything?

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  1. MC Slim JB RE: terrilynn Nov 16, 2010 10:17 PM

    It might be gone, but it could just be getting an overdue face lift. The physical plant was in very rough shape the last time I was in.


    1. hotoynoodle RE: terrilynn Nov 17, 2010 06:10 PM

      it's a refurbishing and renovation that was begun behind schedule and is running very long. has passed several eta's already.

      1. v
        VinnyRW RE: terrilynn Dec 3, 2010 04:26 PM

        I'm planning a trip to Boston in February. Do you know if Olive's will reopen by then?

        7 Replies
        1. re: VinnyRW
          opinionatedchef RE: VinnyRW Dec 4, 2010 08:30 PM

          As a long ago Olilves fan, just wanted to fyi that many boston restaurantshave been/are more highly praised than Olives these last few yrs.

          1. re: VinnyRW
            VinnyRW RE: VinnyRW Jan 12, 2011 11:30 AM

            So... no Olive's for my February trip. But sounds like it had gone downhill anyway. Some friends who recently visited Boston recommended Oleana in Cambridge, or Scampo in the LIberty Hotel. what are your thoughts on those two restaurants?

            215 Charles Street, Boston, MA 02114

            134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139

            1. re: VinnyRW
              rlove RE: VinnyRW Jan 12, 2011 11:40 AM

              Definitely skip Olives, even if it reopens.

              Oleana is excellent, a fine dining Mediterranean restaurant, focusing on the cuisines of the eastern Mediterranean, notably Turkey and Syria. Excellent vegetarian dishes, even if you aren't a vegetarian.

              In the summer, the outdoor patio is my favorite al fresco dining spot. In the winter, I'm less enamored by the tight indoor space, but it is cozy and adorned by a wood-burning stove.

              I recommend it.

              I am less in love with Scampo and would not recommend it given alternatives. Scampo receives a lot of attention because it is helmed Lydia Shire, once Boston's dame of cooking, and it is in a trendy and popular hotel. But I think the hype derives more from Shire's PR prowess than the food. While good (you can certainly do much, much worse) it isn't where I'd go as a visitor looking for something special (try Craigie on Main for that), nor as a local looking for good Italian (try Erbaluce). If you do go to Scampo, the flatbreads, pizzas, and other items out of the tandoori-esque oven are good. The wine menu is poor; stick to by-the-glass.

              Wherever you go, enjoy!

              215 Charles Street, Boston, MA 02114

              134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139

              Craigie on Main
              853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

              69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

              1. re: VinnyRW
                Madrid RE: VinnyRW Jan 12, 2011 11:45 AM

                Others can chime in about Scampo...I love Oleana. It's a quite distinctive place and the menu will either appeal to you immensely or it won't. In fact, i'm going tomorrow night if the clean up from today's blizzard allows. The mezze are remarkable and the desserts are even more unusual than the rest of the menu. Reservation needed. The vegetable tasting menu is 5 mezze plus dessert for $45 and a bargain. They encourage sharing. I've always found her fish especially impressive though these days it's hard for me to get past the mezze. There has been a recent report of an off night on this board...I've experienced that only once, and it was a night when chef Ana Sortun was not in the kitchen. The waitress noticed we were less than ecstatic and offered us a free dessert or free extra wine. It was a few years ago and I don't remember what day of the week it was and in any event it was before her daughter was born so she may well have a different schedule now. She gets vegetables from her husband's farm and imports spices; the space can feel cramped and the bar stools are uncomfortable but the overall experience is very special.

                134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139

                1. re: Madrid
                  rlove RE: Madrid Jan 12, 2011 11:51 AM

                  I forgot to mention it in my comments, but Madrid nailed it: The vegetarian tasting menu (again even if you aren't a vegetarian) is excellent and worth it. I have not been able to convince myself or my dining companion to order anything else since we first enjoyed it.

                  1. re: rlove
                    Madrid RE: rlove Jan 12, 2011 12:01 PM

                    and the veg tasting is easily supplemented by one or more meat mezze....the tamarind glazed beef is great (though someone here recently found it not up to par)...and someone else here got the cheese selection for dessert with a surcharge. Often the server will bring out a mezze special that wasn't on the menu.

                2. re: VinnyRW
                  VinnyRW RE: VinnyRW Jan 12, 2011 12:32 PM

                  Thanks rlove and Madrid. I just made my reservation at Oleana!

              2. t
                thewildturkey RE: terrilynn Dec 3, 2010 06:43 PM

                It''s been shuttered for over 6 months. It closed Memorial Day weekend due to an exaust fire. There was a write up somewhere a couple months ago that he was revamping it into a more casual, neighborhood friendly place called "Fat Olives". Not sure if that is still the plan...

                1 Reply
                1. re: thewildturkey
                  capeanne RE: thewildturkey Dec 3, 2010 07:55 PM

                  live in the neighborhood and I haven't seen any evidence of renovations....none

                2. rlh RE: terrilynn Dec 5, 2010 09:13 AM

                  Kind of sad how the once-mighty (English) have fallen....wouldn't hold my breathe waiting for a grand re-opening of Olives - the ace servers they had for so long have surely moved on by now.

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: rlh
                    hotoynoodle RE: rlh Dec 6, 2010 05:29 AM

                    apparently he's batting around a few ideas, and the space is not yet dead, although re-opening as the original concept is unlikely.

                    consider how many more irons in the fire and high-profile projects he has now vs. when he opened olives. back then it was olives, then the first figs. not the multi-headed hydra of an empire he has now.

                    his kids a re bigger now too, and away at school, so no paternal need for him to be tethered to boston.

                    1. re: hotoynoodle
                      T.Clark RE: hotoynoodle Dec 6, 2010 06:59 AM

                      Anyone remember Isola?

                      1. re: hotoynoodle
                        Small Plates RE: hotoynoodle Dec 6, 2010 08:47 AM

                        Not true. My friend chatted with him at LGA last week en route to Logan. He is fully engaged in Boston still.

                        1. re: Small Plates
                          hotoynoodle RE: Small Plates Dec 6, 2010 06:38 PM

                          yes, i have friends who work for him and we all do socialize. i did not say he is leaving -- he still has businesses and a home here. no offense, however, what he says to a stranger/fan at an airport may have very little relationship with the truth.

                          1. re: hotoynoodle
                            Small Plates RE: hotoynoodle Mar 29, 2011 01:45 PM

                            They are friends - ran into each other at airport. My friend is a chef in Boston.

                      2. re: rlh
                        MC Slim JB RE: rlh Dec 6, 2010 07:22 AM

                        The way I put it in a blog bit I did a while back on The Todd: "We understand his real motivations perfectly, and we don't fault him for grabbing the brass ring. But the bottom line for Bostonians is that a chain -- no matter how gifted the man at the top, nor how skillfully and glamorously he markets it -- is still a chain. Maybe you can fool your new fans, but it's tougher to put one over on the old ones."


                        1. re: MC Slim JB
                          cambridgedoctpr RE: MC Slim JB Dec 6, 2010 07:27 AM

                          MC, What do you think of Market as a chain? I have not eaten there because I eat at J-G in NYC about once per month. I would think that Market probably is about the outer limit of what a chain can strive for. Oh, and i rather like Brasserie Jo - which is also a (very small) chain.

                          As pointed out by Anthony Bourdain, talented sous chefs need their own venue or you will lose them. J-G lost Ken Orringer who lost Tony Maws.

                          Brasserie Jo
                          120 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02116

                          1. re: cambridgedoctpr
                            MC Slim JB RE: cambridgedoctpr Dec 6, 2010 07:33 AM

                            In my limited experience, Market is like much of J-G's empire: the outlets vary in quality, and vary in quality over time, depending on the J-G lieutenant currently in charge. And those folks tend to move on frequently to their own venues: if you're feeling your oats, you inevitably want to build your own brand, not burnish Todd English's. I think that's one positive of having these chains here: they serve as training grounds for up-and-coming talent. You might want to wait till they move on to somewhere else, though.


                          2. re: MC Slim JB
                            ChefJune RE: MC Slim JB Jan 11, 2011 10:22 AM

                            I was a friendly colleague of Todd's when I was living in Boston, and a big fan of (especially) the original Olives. Always found the "bigger and (supposedly) better" Olives way too noisy for the fine dining they wanted to portray, but the food was always great.

                            I've been in new York for almost 17 years now, and he's opened (and closed) several spaces, none of which have ever been really well regarded. I had lunch a few times at the NY Olives, and it was good, but pale by comparison to how I recall the original.

                            I wish he'd choose a place and do another really great spot. We all know he's capable of that. He just needs to get over himself.

                            1. re: ChefJune
                              hotoynoodle RE: ChefJune Jan 11, 2011 10:51 AM

                              i think that ship has sailed.

                        2. MC Slim JB RE: terrilynn Dec 8, 2010 04:09 AM

                          Globe's Dishing blog reports the Charlestown Olives is now set to reopen after a remodeling in Spring 2011, concept and name still TBD. Curly Cakes, the daughter's Beacon Hill cupcake shop, is set to open in a week or two.


                          6 Replies
                          1. re: MC Slim JB
                            BobB RE: MC Slim JB Dec 8, 2010 09:12 AM

                            From that same blog entry (maybe added later?): "Blogger Adam Castiglioni later reported it would be called Fat Olives, a name English officially obtained the trademark for last month."

                            1. re: BobB
                              pemma RE: BobB Jan 11, 2011 06:46 AM

                              Still not many details, but Olives reportedly to still open in spring.


                              1. re: pemma
                                hotoynoodle RE: pemma Jan 11, 2011 06:51 AM

                                according to people who work for te, the insurance money from the fire went to open curly cupcakes. there is no money to renovate or re-open as of right now. bar manager from olives was moved to kingfish so as not to lose him. everybody else is long gone.

                                1. re: hotoynoodle
                                  MC Slim JB RE: hotoynoodle Jan 11, 2011 06:57 AM

                                  If it never reopened, I'd use that spot as a memorial to the Ghost of Todd English, Onsite Chef, and burn a joss stick there once a year for all the great meals I had there circa 1992 and haven't had there since.


                                  1. re: MC Slim JB
                                    hotoynoodle RE: MC Slim JB Jan 11, 2011 07:21 AM

                                    corporate office remains upstairs, so i'm sure that's who answered the phone, but nothing looks imminent.

                                    and almost 10 years of coasting on past glory is shocking, eh? i'd say he succeeded far more in building a brand than as a chef.

                                    1. re: hotoynoodle
                                      hiddenboston RE: hotoynoodle Jan 11, 2011 10:25 AM

                                      Maybe they could turn it into a vegan, slow-food place and rename it Olive Garden or something like that. Oh wait....

                          2. p
                            phonelady RE: terrilynn Mar 29, 2011 08:48 AM


                            Interesting . . .

                            18 Replies
                            1. re: phonelady
                              BobB RE: phonelady Mar 29, 2011 09:27 AM

                              Actually, the Locke-Ober news in that is more interesting than the Olive's news. Could it be on the verge of a major re-conceptualization?

                              “It’s a tough location that has had its time,” said the ex-investor. “The place used to be full of businessmen, executives from Jordan Marsh and Filene’s. But downtown is really seedy now and it doesn’t appear to be coming back anytime soon.”

                              1. re: BobB
                                DoubleMan RE: BobB Mar 29, 2011 09:32 AM


                                1. re: BobB
                                  robwat36 RE: BobB Mar 29, 2011 10:16 AM

                                  We could really use a high-end Mexican place with a large tequila selection.

                                  1. re: robwat36
                                    hiddenboston RE: robwat36 Mar 29, 2011 10:30 AM

                                    Or maybe 2 high-end Mexican places if they can partition the building.

                                    1. re: hiddenboston
                                      hotoynoodle RE: hiddenboston Mar 29, 2011 01:04 PM

                                      ooohhh, a high-end steakhouse!

                                      1. re: hotoynoodle
                                        MC Slim JB RE: hotoynoodle Mar 29, 2011 02:02 PM

                                        I'm thinking Boston could use some upscale comfort food.


                                        1. re: hotoynoodle
                                          BobB RE: hotoynoodle Mar 29, 2011 03:00 PM

                                          Since the talk is that the location is no longer good for haute cuisine due to the departure of the deep pockets from that part of downtown, I wouldn't think a high-end anything is likely to be a safe investment.

                                          Nightclub is the most credible suggestion I've seen yet here - it's a non-residential area so noise and crowds at night wouldn't be a huge problem.

                                          1. re: BobB
                                            MC Slim JB RE: BobB Mar 29, 2011 03:47 PM

                                            I think I've got the answer! Faux-irish pub!


                                            1. re: BobB
                                              hazelhurst RE: BobB Mar 30, 2011 05:51 AM

                                              This is all terribly dispiriting.

                                              1. re: hazelhurst
                                                BobB RE: hazelhurst Mar 30, 2011 06:22 AM

                                                It is sad - but honestly, how often have you been eating there recently? Once in the past five years for me.

                                                1. re: BobB
                                                  hazelhurst RE: BobB Mar 30, 2011 06:33 AM

                                                  Well, I don'tlive there but when last in town a few years ago I had at least five meals there... For years it was my first stop coming in from the airport. In 1986 I came in for the Series and stowed my luggage and The Lucky Bat at the hat check. The Lucky Bat, of course, failed to work.

                                                  1. re: BobB
                                                    hondodog RE: BobB Mar 30, 2011 09:19 PM

                                                    I miss it alot. Best fried onion strings I know of around these parts.

                                                    Anyone know where I can get any strings anywhere else of similar quality?

                                                    1. re: hondodog
                                                      BobB RE: hondodog Mar 31, 2011 07:47 AM

                                                      This looks to have been a false alarm - read the posts below, it is reopening (at least for now).

                                        2. re: BobB
                                          hotoynoodle RE: BobB Mar 29, 2011 01:00 PM

                                          as an aside, kingfish hall hasn't paid rent in well over 9 months.

                                          1. re: BobB
                                            okra RE: BobB Mar 30, 2011 06:09 AM

                                            Carolyn Faye Fox's column in the latest Improper Bostonian claims that Locke-Ober has reopened. Website appears functional.


                                            3 Winter Place, Boston, MA 02108

                                            1. re: okra
                                              hiddenboston RE: okra Mar 30, 2011 06:21 AM

                                              OpenTable is showing no availability for Locke-Ober today through Friday. But it is showing tables available for Saturday, so it does look like they are open once again.

                                              1. re: hiddenboston
                                                MC Slim JB RE: hiddenboston Mar 30, 2011 06:39 AM

                                                Cursory inspection does not suggest a dramatic menu revamp.


                                          2. re: phonelady
                                            EATTV RE: phonelady Mar 29, 2011 10:07 AM

                                            I've heard the erstwhile Chef will be touring with Charlie Sheen. Winning! Nobody misses any of the absentee teevee wannabees anyway. There was greatness back in the Michela days but that's long ago now. Too much fun was had. Trust me, you would not trade places with this guy.

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