Mediterranean mellow 

Midtown's Olive Bistro rises above its strip mall surroundings

Strip mall dining -- it's not exactly glamorous. And the Ponce de Leon shopping center that's home to Olive Bistro is as unremarkable as they come. Well, unremarkable except for the torrents of traffic that pour through it on a seemingly constant basis. Given how hectic the shopping center is at all hours of the day, it's surprising that Olive Bistro can maintain its placid vibe. The place is never especially busy, dishes arrive at a relaxed pace and the servers are always welcoming. It's a veritable oasis amongst the throngs of shoppers and plumes of car exhaust.

The restaurant's decor is just slightly less generic than its strip mall surroundings. At heart, it's a deli. The walls are painted a friendly yellow and hung with Picasso prints. A big, funky wooden takeout counter fronts the dining room, with a glass food case to one side and a handful of tables topped with fake flowers. There are a few outdoor tables, but the view -- acres of asphalt, row upon row of cars -- leaves a lot to be desired. Given the choice, I sit inside.

As the name might suggest, Olive Bistro specializes in Mediterranean cuisine. Hummus, served with fresh pita bread and a drizzle of olive oil, may be the best in the city. Velvety-smooth with just a suggestion of garlic, the stuff is addictive. A dish of Tuscan white beans is by turns creamy and tangy in its heady marinade of lemon, garlic, olive oil and spices. Sun-dried tomatoes give the dish a hint of sweetness.

I am especially fond of Olive Bistro's pita pockets and wraps. The chicken gyro folds chunks of rosemary-grilled chicken inside warm flatbread with lettuce, tomato, onion, black olives and cool tzatziki. The server gave good advice when she suggested I leave the sandwich in its paper wrapping to prevent spillage. The thing's a mess, but entirely worth it. Also great (and equally messy) are the crunchy falafel balls tucked inside a pita pocket with lettuce, tomato and tahini.

The pre-made items in the case are always worth a try. Vegetarian lasagna, stuffed with spinach and mushrooms and served with a lemony marinara, was a fresh take on a dish that's usually way too heavy for my taste.

Whether you've saved room or not, you simply cannot leave Olive Bistro without a piece of their ooey-gooey baklava. I always order a piece to go, but I've yet to actually get home with it. By the time I pull into my driveway all that's left is an empty to-go container and a sticky steering wheel. Evidence of a much-enjoyed meal.

florence.byrd@creativeloafing.com

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Latest in Feedbag

More by Florence Byrd

Restaurant Review: Bread & Butterfly
Restaurant Review: Bread & Butterfly

Search Events

  1. First Look: Rreal Tacos 14

    An authentic taqueria in the heart of Midtown
  2. Cliff's top 10 Atlanta restaurants for dining on a budget 34

    Our longtime columnist picks his favorite wallet-friendly eateries of 2013
  3. Cliff’s top 10 Atlanta restaurants for dining on a budget 13

    Our longtime columnist picks his favorite wallet-friendly eateries of 2014

Recent Comments

© 2016 Creative Loafing Atlanta
Powered by Foundation