A couple of weeks ago, Marie and I met up with Lakshmi Jagad, who has been writing a good blog called The Rich Vegetarian for a couple of years, to enjoy a good supper and talk shop about our hobby. She suggested that we meet up at the Vinings location of Olive Bistro, which has been popping around with a few different locations since the original location opened in Little Five Points in 1997. The Vinings store, which is at the far end of the Kroger shopping center at Cobb Parkway and Paces Mill, has been doing good business for five years now. I have been racking my brain and asking around what was in this space before; it was, perhaps, a Cajun-themed restaurant.
The interior is low-lighted, and is designed in a simple café style. It’s a good place to spend a couple of hours with a bottle of wine snacking on small plates. The owner, Steve Masri, has successfully made a fine neighborhood getaway with very tasty comfort food. Unfortunately, this is a neighborhood without any houses – this strip mall is surrounded on all sides by either aging apartment complexes or other strip malls – but it is certainly worth a visit from anyplace nearby.
Marie ordered the rosemary chicken, which was cooked very well, juicy and full of flavor. The chicken came with a small side of some really terrific hummus. I enjoyed Marie’s hummus more than the baba ghanoush that I had on my plate. This “Mediterranean platter” is a sampler entree, from which guests can pick four of eight items. I also selected falafel, tabbouleh, and a Greek salad. Lakshmi also ordered this platter, with falafel, tabbouleh, Tuscan beans and eggplant.
Just to prove that even new friends won’t agree at all on the best of foods, I could have eaten three times as much of this tabbouleh. It tasted like it was made from the freshest parsley available, and seasoned perfectly. If the baba ghanoush felt a little lacking and bland, that was fine by me. But Lakshmi wasn’t as taken with it, finding it seasoned with lemon juice too heavily for her liking, with the result being just too tart for her palate. She enjoyed the eggplant and the falafel more.
Olive Bistro does so many things that, more than many places we visit, this is a good choice for guests who are looking to sample many different flavors. I hear great things about Masri’s lasagna, which is made with a tomato basil sauce that he mixes fresh every day. An order of that along with two Mediterranean platters to try all eight of the samples would be an indulgence for two, but probably a really good meal. Sounds like a fine way to spend an evening.
You can see all the restaurants that we have visited for our blog on this map, with links back to the original blog posts. It’s terrific for anybody planning a road trip through the southeast!