Todd English’s Olives opens at Atlantis
Guardian Lifestyles Editor
Published: Jul 13, 2013
Early on in his career, renowned Chef Todd English worked in Italy for a year, it was during that stint that he developed a passion for Mediterranean cuisine. He has since been serving his internationally acclaimed interpretive Mediterranean cuisine at his Olives eateries that opened its first restaurant in 1989 in Charlestown, Massachusetts. He also has locations in New York and in the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Three months ago he opened Olives in Mexico, and this week, the restaurant that offers big, bold flavors with an emphasis on seasonality and using the freshest ingredients to create sumptuous pastas, wood-fired flatbreads, fresh fish, succulent meats and decadent desserts, has come to The Bahamas.
Olives Atlantis which offers a warm, casual dining experience with a three-meal-a-day menu, opened at the beginning of the week.
The menu provides the perfect mix of English’s classics, like his tuna tartare with spun cucumber, ginger glazed crispy shrimp, sesame dressing and whitefish caviar that has been on the Olives menu for almost 25 years. He has also added on some new stuff to the Olives Atlantis menu as they feel their way through what will sell in the Bahamian market.
His appetizer menu features items like the pan-seared crab cake, avocado relish, and a slab of tuna known as the “crab n slab” to his Olives mezze, an assortment of spreads, grilled flatbreads and olives, to the carpetbagger oysters (beef carpaccio wrapped oysters and truffle mash, to the charred octopus (grilled squid, chorizo, chickpeas and piquillo peppers). Then there’s the raw bar offerings from little neck clams served with mignonette and house cocktail sauce, chilled spiny lobster, chilled jumbo prawns, seafood tower, east and west coast oysters, to a lobster-tini with avocado, tomato, piquillo peppers served with Olive’s Bloody Mary.
The wood-fired flatbread offerings include jerk shrimp with asiago and shaved fennel salad; the farmhouse (country ham, asparagus, caramelized onion, provolone, egg and truffle oil); the bianco (buffalo, mozzarella, sweet onion, arugula, tomato and a balsamic drizzle); the Te’s Classic Chicken Pesto (onion, dried tomatoes, mozzarella and balsamic drizzle); the Bronx bomber (roasted tomato, pepperoni, caramelized onion Parmesan and truffle oil), the roasted Portobello (mushroom cream, fontina, caramelized onion, parmesan, truffle oil) and the fig and prosciutto (sweet and sour fig jam, gorgonzola and rosemary).
For English who was born in Amarillo, Texas, but raised in Atlanta and New York, and whose maternal family is Italian, Olives is about his love for Mediterranean cooking and that part of the world.
During his stint in Italy, English fell in love with the way they make fresh pastas and he admits to being crazy about pasta.
“When you spend time in Italy, you realize that life is about pasta and pasta is about life in Italy,” said the celebrity chef. So-much-so that the Atlantis Olives has a one-of-a-kind Italian-made SuperNova pasta machine, described as the “Ferrari” of pasta machines, and of which there is one of only four in the world. As a part of the Olives concept, all pastas are homemade. And according to the Mediterranean cuisine maestro,
perfect pasta is all about texture, consistency and thinness. He said you should be able to read the newspaper through pasta that’s perfect.
The pasta offerings on the Olives menu include the butternut squash tortellini with brown butter, sage and parmesan; veal agnolotti with braised veal breast, truffle burro fuso and parmesan; ricotta ravioli with roasted tomato basic sauce, sweet Italian sausage and garlic breadcrumbs; bucatini with conch, shrimp and charred jalapeno pesto; and a Brooklyn-style spaghetti with meatballs, roasted tomato sauce, basil and Parmigiano reggiano.
A Boston bibb (mache, shaved white onions, Point Reyes bleu cheese, toasted walnut vinaigrette); classic wedge (brown sugar cured bacon, egg, cracked black pepper, blue cheese dressing); Olives Caesar (tomato, fried white anchovies, focaccia croutons), caprese (heirloom tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, basil, balsamic drizzle) round out the salads, to which grilled salmon, chicken or shrimp can be added.
The entrée offerings range from grilled salmon (shrimp scampi, garlicky spinach, zucchini fries, trio of aioli); mahi mahi (curried chickpeas and mussels, black baba ganoush); diver scallops (sweet pea risotto, pancetta, 63-degree egg); orange poached grouper (kumquat tabouli, hearts of palm salad, orange air); pan-seared filet (garlicky spinach, Roquefort cream, shiitake glaze, Tuscan toast); free range chicken (seared country potato, haricots verts, rustic red onion, watercress salad); pan fried veal chop (panzanella salad, tonnato sauce); grilled ribeye (creamy potato puree, charred broccoli rabe, roasted garlic jus); double cut pork chop (sweet potato puree, roasted corn with chipotle butter and cotija, pork jus) and steak frites (NY strip, red wine glaze, onion jam and arugula salad).
It’s a menu that is not too big, but still offers variety as they feel out the Bahamian market.
“We just went with the classics that have been running for years and went back to some of the old school ones like the tuna tartare that has been on for almost 25 years, and added some of the new school ones. I feel like it’s a good mix of stuff. We’ll see what sells and what doesn’t and it will take a little time to figure out what works and what doesn’t,” said English.
Asked for his recommendation, English said it was like asking him to choose his favorite child — something that he said was tough to do. Pressed, he suggested the ricotta ravioli, tortellini and the chicken — he’s a huge fan of it. And he says the tuna tartare is a must have.
The decadent end-of dinner selections that Al Stephens, corporate pastry chef for Chef Todd English, has put on the menu includes warm chocolate pudding cake (manjari pudding, chocolate gelato and coco puff crumble); S’mores (milk chocolate fudge cake, vanilla ice cream, campfire roasted graham crackers and toasted marshmallow); PB & J (sweet cream panna cotta with Maine blueberry compote and honeycomb peanut brittle); butterscotch crème brulee with vanilla bean whipped cream; warm cookies n’ cream to share (chocolate and butter crunch cookies, red velvet cupcake, whoopie pie, fried Oreo, mango rice krispy treat and house-made gelato).
Offering a three-meal-a-day menu, Olives Atlantis, serves breakfast (7-11 a.m.), lunch (12-4 p.m.), dinner (5-10 p.m.) and late night noshes (11 p.m.-3 a.m).
On the breakfast menu are offerings like steel cut oat porridge with almond milk, fresh seasonal fruit and toasted almonds; Olives frittata (yellow tomato coulis, manchego, green onion, spinach and roasted mushrooms); grilled sausage sandwich (sunny side egg and glazed donut); salmon benedict (poached eggs, English muffin and horseradish hollandaise); granola and yogurt (fresh mixed berries, dried fruit, sunflower seed and Greek yogurt); red velvet pancakes (strawberries and cream cheese frosting); bagel tacos (scrambled eggs, smoked salmon, arugula, white fish caviar and spiced crème fraiche) and some of his signature flatbreads with toppings like ham and egg and lox and eggs, along with the regular breakfast pastries and drinks.
English said he’s excited about the collaboration with Atlantis to bring his Olives brand to The Bahamas and to capture a new dining audience.
“The Bahamas is growing and expanding in many ways. It’s a big destination for Americans and even more so internationally and so I felt it was good [to open an Olives restaurant at Atlantis],” said English, who has been visiting The Bahamas for years.
Olives Atlantis features a remarkable 6,850-square foot interior with large vaulted ceilings and a rustic décor designed by world-renowned interior architect and designer Jeffrey Beers.
English’s other restaurants include Bluezoo, which invites guests to sample treats and treasures from the sea; Bonfire steakhouse; Cava Brasserie which serves traditional brasserie fare as well as playful, contemporary interpretations; The English Tap & Beer Garden where beer, cocktails and local food are enjoyed; Figs, a casual bistro; Isabelle’s CurlyCakes a bakery; Todd English Food Hall, a European-inspired specialty food hall; Todd English P.U.B. which features a modern interpretation on traditional English pub fare; Todd English Restaurant, his floating restaurant located onboard the luxury line, Queen Mary 2; and Tuscany, which serves authentic regional Italian cuisine.
English also hosts the television show “Food Trip with Todd English”. Through the show, he gives viewers a rare glimpse into the thoughts and motivations of a culinary master and shows how people and places inspire him and how viewers can get motivated to create their own dishes.
He has also authored four cookbooks — “Cooking In Everyday English: The ABCs of Great Flavor at Home”; “The Olives Table: Over 160 Recipes from the Critically Acclaimed Restaurant and Home Kitchen of Todd English”; “The Figs Table” and “The Olives Dessert Table: Spectacular Restaurant Desserts You Can Make at Home”.
His food philosophy is simple ingredients, common foods prepared in uncommon ways, layering flavors, spices and surprises.
And with the ebb and flow of the tide of trends in the culinary world, English finds the liquid nitrogen trend fun, but says he’s never really eaten anything he’s liked that had liquid nitrogen. But he believes it’s good to push the envelope.
“In order to make things different and really enjoy food, I think it has to come from a basic foundation. It has to be basic and good,” said English.
Olives Atlantis joins the ranks of some of Atlantis’ favorite dining outposts from around the world including Chef Nobu Matshuisa’s famed restaurant Nobu; Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill and three-starred Michelin Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Cafe Martinique.