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A delightful meal at Todd English’s Olives at Atlantis has me already looking forward to a return visit

  • Tuna tartare with spun cucumber, ginger glazed crispy shrimp, sesame dressing and whitefish caviar.

  • Surf and turf.

  • Grilled salmon with warm crab couscous, olive relish and tomato burro fuso (Italian for melted butter) topped with olive tapenade. PHOTOS: SHAVAUGHN MOSS

  • Small seafood tower from the raw bar. SHAVAUGHN MOSS

SHAVAUGHN MOSS
DIARY OF A FOODIE

Published: Aug 31, 2013

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Okay, I know I was invited to the official opening of Todd English’s Olives Atlantis restaurant, and then had a second opportunity to visit and have Mr. English himself cook for me (and a few other members of the media), but only the good Lord knows how much I wanted to get in there like a regular diner and order whatever I wanted off the menu. The two previous visits were sample tastings of preselected menu items that were wide and varied, from the flatbreads, pasta and dessert sections of the menu and they were indeed delicious, but there were a couple of menu items that I was dying to try that weren’t in the offerings.

I had scanned the menu and of course my train of thought centered on the grilled salmon on the menu, as I’m a salmon freak, but not just any salmon, it has to be cooked just right — a crisp skin-on salmon cooked to a luscious medium center will literally leave me swooning, and I could not wait to see if Olives would do it right.

Well, I had to wait and wait, and wait, but finally my husband, David, had a Saturday evening free and that presented the perfect opportunity to check out the interpretive Mediterranean cuisine restaurant located in the Atlantis casino. Actually I’m quite familiar with Chef English’s style of cooking having eaten at his Bonefire Steakhouse in Boston, so I knew I would not be disappointed.

I’d also had my eye on the opportunity to check out the raw bar offerings because I’m a huge oyster fan, and love to top them with mignonette sauce – and the restaurant has a lovely selection as evidenced by the fresh seafood display that greets you as you enter the restaurant.

During my dinner I had my eye on other items, like the beef carpaccio (crispy, Roquefort polenta, field greens, balsamic glazed onions, scallion cream, aioli and shaved parmesan cheese), but nothing could deter me from the raw bar – I ordered a small seafood tower, while my husband went with the tuna tartare with spun cucumber, ginger glazed crispy shrimp, sesame dressing and whitefish caviar.

There was no waffling about my entrée of choice, it had to be the grilled salmon which was served with warm crab couscous, olive relish and tomato burro fuso (Italian term for melted butter) topped with olive tapenade. My husband opted for the surf and turf.

I would be the first to admit that I’m not the biggest chocolate fan and the Olives menu choice is compact and chocolate centric, but it does offer one of my favorite desserts a butterscotch crème brulee .

While I may have ordered a small seafood tower not knowing what to expect, when it arrived, I was shocked. It could easily feed four people in my opinion with everyone getting a taste of everything. I was happy to tuck into it all the same – a dash of mignonette sauce for me on my oysters and clams and it was like I’d died and gone to seafood heaven. My husband prefers lemon and a dash of Tabasco sauce. Indulging in raw seafood and with my hands is how I love to eat. The last time I’d had such an experience, I was sitting in a restaurant in Paris and the memories came flooding back.

After a lovely start to the meal, the salmon that was placed before me was a delight to the eyes indeed. But whether it would please my palate was another thing. It did not disappoint. I went in for a taste of the couscous first. It proved to be the most flavorable I’d ever had – bar none – so much so that my husband asked if it trumps the couscous I cook myself, and it did – hands-down.

The salmon was cooked to perfection. It was a perfect medium with a luscious center. The briny olive tapenade that topped the salmon pulled all of the flavors together. Just thinking about this right now has me jonesing for another dish right now. It was that good. Can I say my husband raved about his steak? According to him, it was the best he’d sank his teeth into a long time. He said it was so tender that he almost didn’t need a knife to cut into it.

For dessert, I went with the butterscotch crème brulee, with vanilla bean whipped cream. My husband who is a typical apple pie a la mode kind of guy threw caution to the wind and ordered the warm chocolate pudding cake (manjari pudding, chocolate gelato and a coco puff crumble).

I took a few bites of the crème brulee and was surprised when my husband actually joined in, so I decided to give his chocolate pudding cake a try. To my surprise, I really liked it. Usually I can pass up chocolate in any shape or form and not think twice about it. But it was a surprising dessert. I didn’t find any cake at all, but a rich gooey, silky dark chocolate pudding topped with a smooth chocolate gelato and crunchy puffs that offered up various flavors of chocolate on my palate from dark to milk. I was honestly surprised that I found it delightful. I stole about six spoons before I decided that I had to reign it back in.

My meal turned out to be so delightful that of course I’m already looking forward to my return visit because there are so many menu items that I just have to try.

During the opening and press tour, I delighted in sample portions like the crab n’ slab (pan seared crab cake, avocado relish, corn silk, slab of tuna); and the Olives mezze, and I swear that hummus was the silkiest, most luscious hummus I’ve ever had; and of course the beef carpaccio — which all come from the appetizer menu. Flatbread offerings of which Olives has nine to choose from also circulated and the fig and prosciutto (sweet and sour fig jam, gorgonzola and rosemary) as well as the roasted Portobello (mushroom cream, fontina, caramelized onion, parmesan and truffle oil) are two that are right up my alley.

Goodness knows I can’t wait to sink my teeth into a full bowl of the butternut squash tortelli with brown butter, sage and parmesan, or the veal agnolotti (braised veal breast, truffle burro fuso and parmesan).

And the eating won’t stop there because the diver scallops with sweet pea risotto, pancetta and 63 degree egg has my name written all over it, right next to the grilled salmon.

While Olives does not offer soups, it does have four different salads from which to choose – Boston Bibb (mache, shaved white onions, shower Point Reyes bleu cheese, toasted walnut vinaigrette); classic wedge (brown sugar cured bacon, egg, cracked black pepper and bleu cheese dressing); Olives Caesar (tomato paint, fried white anchovies, focaccia croutons); all to which grilled salmon, chicken and shrimp can be added, and a caprese (heirloom tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, basil, balsamic drizzle).

Yes, Todd English’s Olives means lots of eating, but really delicious eating – for me. But the restaurant offers so much more, as it serves breakfast, lunch and has a late-night small dining menu with flatbreads, burgers, sandwiches and select appetizers and pastas.

Breakfast runs the gamut of breakfast offerings – porridge, frittata, granola and yogurt, pancakes, bagel tacos (scrambled eggs, smoked salmon, arugula, white fish caviar, spiced crème fraiche) breakfast flatbreads, pastries, hash – everything that one would want.

The lunch menu follows along the line of the dinner menu.

Todd English’s Olives restaurant is open from 7 a.m. to 3 a.m. Prices for breakfast range between $3.75 and $18. Lunch prices range between $15 and $40 (for the raw bar, you have to ask for the prices). Dinner prices range between $15 and $48 (again raw bar prices have to be asked for). The late night menu prices range between $14 and $28.

If you plan on going to Todd English’s Olives, ensure that you make reservations, because you just might be disappointed at the door, the restaurant is that popular, and rightly so, as the food is simply delicious.


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