Todd English’s Olives
Red Sangria – Red Wine, Remy VSOP, Cointreau, Orange Juice
Melody – Bacardi 8 Rum, St. Germain Liqueur, Lime Juice, Mango Juice, Lemon Sour, Agave Nectar, Fresh Basil
Bread Basket – Onion Focaccia, Flatbread, Olives, Olive Spread
Beef Carpaccio – Gorgozola Polenta, Parmesan, Cipollini Onions, Arugula, Balsamic Reduction, Scallion Cream, Garlic Aioli
Portobello Flatbread – Wild Mushroom Puree, Roasted Portobello, Red Onions, Fontina Cheese, White Truffle Oil
Fig & Prosciutto Flatbread – Rosemary Crust, Sweet & Sour Fig Jam, Gorgonzola, Prosciutto di Parma
Seared Hokkaido Scallops – Fava Bean Risotto, Apple Wood Smoke Bacon, Heirloom Carrots, Yellow Pepper Coulis, Micro Greens
Mojo Chicken Cuban – Shaved Prosciutto, Ham, Gruyere Cheese, Caramelized Onions, Sliced Pickles, Spicy Mustard Aioli, Housemade Potato Chips
Butternut Squash Tortelli – Amaretto Cookies, Sage, Brown Butter, Parmesan Cheese
Double Espresso on Ice
2016 Rose Brachetto
Pumpkin Mascarpone Cheesecake – Graham Cracker Crust, Salty Caramel / Banana Tiramisu – Espresso Ladyfingers, Cocoa / Cookie Butter Crème Brulee – Whipped Cream, Fresh Berries
Fallen Chocolate Soufflé – Peanut Butter Lava, Candied Peanuts
Launched over 19 years ago and doing big numbers ever since Bellagio opened its doors it came as a big surprise when an announcement was made that Todd English’s Olives would become Wolfgang Puck’s Spago in 2018, and with the final day of service now set for January 13th a visit on Saturday confirmed that although certainly not ‘revolutionary’ today the Restaurant still remains popular while the Food is fresh, well-executed and accessible.
Not yet giving a reason for the pending change, though the shutter of English’s Boston flagship and his persistent “bad boy” behavior in an era that continues to see celebrities cast-out for any number of indiscretions has fueled speculation, it was nonetheless just past noon that two locals checked in at the hostess podium before being led into a room decked out for Christmas, a sizable four-top overlooking the dancing fountains providing one of the Strip’s best views over the course of nearly two-hours.
Described as ‘Modern Mediterranean’ over a decade before a boom in such cuisine differentiated places like Estiatorio Milos and Cleo from lighter styles of Italian or Alain Ducasse’s Rivea, Executive Chef Abraham Aguilar heading up a kitchen with the tough task of being a high volume crowd-pleaser from lunch to dinner 365 days a year, it was with Ice Water in hand and menus presented that General Manager Nick Servedio stopped by to say hello before drinks were ordered, the house Sangria perhaps a bit heavy for earlier plates while “Melody” was refreshing and fruity atop a Rum backbone.
Familiar with Mr. Servedio from his time at Harvest, in-touch leadership skills both there and at Olives seeing front of house run seamlessly despite a crowd that on this day included many cowboys, it was not long after drinks were served that a Bread Basket arrived sporting two types of Bread, a pair of Spreads and several varieties of Fruit, the city’s most famous Carpaccio hot on its heels with thinly shaved Beef forming a mound over fried Polenta and Arugula and shining thanks to three types of Dressing plus caramelized Onions.
Pacing Lunch out over four courses, even Vegas’ ‘slow period’ seeing the room 3/4 full as sun reflected off dancing water outside, it was with short work made of the Beef that two Flatbreads on wooden boards arrived next, the Crust thin and crisp with the better selection largely a matter of personal choice as the combination of Mushrooms and Onions was dialed up slightly by way of Truffle Oil while the sweet and savory combination of Figs and Prosciutto may prove a challenge to some thanks to pungent Blue Cheese.
Rounding out savories with two seasonal selections plus a Sandwich, the seared Scallops a fairly predictable offering placing three nicely cooked specimens atop tender Risotto with roasted Carrots and Bacon plus a slightly overwhelming Coulis, it was somewhat surprising that Chef Aguilar’s housemade Tortelli stuffed with Butternut Squash was as impressive as many Pumpkin Tortellini served in Italy in terms of taste and texture while the “Mojo” Chicken Sandwich riffed on a Cuban with shaved Pork, melted Cheese, Pickles and Onions.
Raising the shades as sun dipped west, a view that will apparently soon be extended further even more impressive today than it was in 1998, it was with a sweet Sparkling Wine and Espresso that the meal came to a close, all four Desserts enjoyable but the standouts undeniably a particularly well-executed Lava Cake with salty Peanut Butter and the spiraled Crème Brulee with crackling Sugar and Custard atop a layer of Cookie Butter.
FOUR STARS: Never the glitziest option on the Strip, but consistently packed thanks to a wide-ranging menu of accessible fare appropriately targeted and priced for Las Vegas’ broad demographic, Olives is one of those Restaurants that one could walk by a hundred times without ever paying much mind to, yet having now finally stopped in there is no doubt about its place in Las Vegas culinary history and for both fans or first timers the next month offers a perfect opportunity to pay them a visit.
RECOMMENDED: Melody, Beef Carpaccio, Butternut Squash Tortelli, Mojo Chicken Cuban, Cookie Butter Crème Brulee.
AVOID: The Pepper Coulis with the Scallops and Truffle Oil on the Mushroom Flatbread both hindered more than they helped.
TIP: As above, last day of service is slated for 1/13/18.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.