201 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10003
One of Speeds' favorite places to eat when she lived in the city was Todd English's Union Square restaurant, Olives. We wound up here on many an occasion, much to the lament of my wallet, largely because she couldn't get enough of their butternut squash tortellini. This time, as a way to relive the old days when she wasn't living upstate, it was my suggestion to go here. Olives is located at the W Hotel on Park Avenue South. As a result of this trendy landlord and a steady influx of tourists willing to lay down wads of moolah to stay at a trendy hotel, Olives and its accompanying sofa-filled lobby bar are chock filled with people with money and the people who follow people with money.
Olives is dimly lit and sexy without being an over-the-top joke like Buddakan. The menu is pricey without being on another planet, and like any good restaurant that knows that it's catering to an audience of tourists and out-of-town businessmen, the food, which is a sort of amalgam between American and Mediterranean, manages to be ethnic without being too too ethnic.
Speeds' appetizer was the Spicy Chicken Meatballs with sliced cherry peppers in an agrodolce sauce. The meatballs were very good. They were pan seared so there was a little bit of a shell crust to the meat and they popped like flavor balls in your mouth. My one complaint was that the agriodolce, a sauce made from sugar and vinegar, was a little too heavy with the vinegar. As a result, with each bite you'd get a nose of vinegar. Maybe this is something you'd enjoy, and I'm sure that some will, but I found it distracting. Like many restaurants, Olives offers half sized portions of their pasta. So, instead of a traditional appetizer, I chose a half portion of the Rabbit Tagliatelle, a pasta with a leg of rabbit ragout, mushrooms, and parmesan cheese. It was fantastic and next time I'll probably order a full sized one instead.
Speeds of course ordered the Tortelli of Butternut Squash (after all, it was why we came), and she absolutely loved every bite. I was a bit more apathetic and seemed to have remembered it being a bit tastier back in the day when we last ate here. It was also extremely sweet. Too much for me personally. But hey, if she liked it, who am I to judge? It's certainly a fall/winter dish that was totally appropriate with the freezing weather. My main course was the Fire Roasted Chicken, a roast chicken quarter with mashed potatoes, sauteed Brussels sprouts with cranberry and little cubes of bacon. Unfortunately, this was the weakest dish of the night. The chicken was bland, the skin was not nearly crispy enough, the side Brussels sprouts/cranberry/bacon side dish was boring and the mashed potatoes were tasteless. There's no way I can recommend something so dull that cost so much.
We ended up skipping dessert, but we did get a pot of tea.
Two glasses of wine, one appetiser, two half-sized portions of pasta, one entree, and a pot of tea came to $128.
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