Over the weekend my wife and I had lunch at Olives at the Ludlow Garage. Awhile ago I bought a LivingSocial coupon that was expiring this week, so we were forced to use it. We nearly went to a beer tasting months ago at Olives, and when we saw the coupon a few days later we figured it was worth a try. When we pulled up to Olives I immediately recognized the restaurant as the old Uno’s, which I guess closed a couple of years after I graduated from UC. The outside of the restaurant seems a little different, but once I stepped into the entryway with steps down to the basement and the double doors on the left into the bar, there was no denying that much of the inside of Olives in unchanged from the Uno days.
Since we arrived late in the afternoon on a Sunday, the downstairs was closed and most of the upstairs was empty. We were told to sit where we like and chose the empty loft area behind the bar, since it had low tables that we could pull a high chair up to. The bartender would also act as our server, which wasn’t a problem as there were only a couple of other tables and a few people at the bar. I did see another server running around during our visit. The bar is stocked with a large variety of draft beer selections and the menu is rather big as well.
Since this meal would serve as both our lunch and dinner, and we were really hungry, we decided to split an appetizer to start. Our server told us that the menu was recently redone and she had only tried a few of the options on the menu. After a little debate we opted for the bier cheese dip ($5.95) served with garlic drops, fresh made garlic dough with blended cheese and then deep-fried golden brown. The garlic drops themselves were actually really good, and the bier cheese was pretty tasty as well. We could definitely taste the beer in the dip, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Though not an expert at the menu, our server did let us know that their burgers were all good. With that bit of advice I decided to give one of their signature burgers a chance, which can be served either with Angus ground beef, veggie burger, black bean burger, turkey burger, or chicken breast. I opted for the Johnny Appleseed ($11.95) which featured cheddar cheese, maple bacon, sautéed apples and red onions, with whole grain mustard on a ciabatta bun. I had this sandwich served with the black bean burger, which was a large fresh made patty that was hard to keep together. Despite the massive amount of toppings, the sandwich managed to stay together pretty well otherwise. The taste was really good with the sweetness from the apples and the spiciness of the mustard and onion.
My wife went with the South of the Border burger ($10.95) with guacamole, applewood smoked bacon, and fried egg, topped with pepper jack cheese on a toasted Kaiser bun. She choose to have the turkey burger on this sandwich and commented that it was very meaty. It was a thick patty which dominated this sandwich. Again I think the flavor combinations worked pretty well for her, but she did admit to preferring my sandwich more. There are quite a few other burgers on the menu with some unique topping combinations. The shoestring fries were fresh cooked perfectly and the cole slaw on the side was decent. Overall we enjoyed our visit to Olives and would return if ever in the area. It’s not worth a special trip, but if near campus it is worth a try (or retry if you’ve dined before).