Olivea (Kingston) – Order the right things and you won’t be disappointed

Olivea has got a pretty stellar location. In the summer, the patio is right across from Market Square so you can people watch and enjoy a cool drink. In the winter, it is right next to the rink so it feels quite “Christmassy”. The food is somewhat of a gamble. I’ve had some pretty awful things here (the Rigatoni alla Bolognese was horrendous, tasting like boiled ground beef) but  if you know what to order, I find it quite enjoyable.

This is the large Olivea Poutine (frites with rich veal cheek ragu and local cheese curd) for $15. The frites are nice with the soggy ones soaking up all the juicy veal goodness. I do find it a touch salty. The cheese curds help cut the saltiness but you don’t really get enough curd. This is a pretty satisfying appy to share between people.

This is the Garganelli (with roasted garlic and rosemary cream sauce with crispy chicken leg) for $20. A touch on the pricy side but the egg noodles are fantastic. They used to make the cream sauce with some lemon zest which I thought was really interesting: zesty and a bit bitter. I am sad they stopped using it. But pasta aside, this chicken is devastating. Crispy skin, savoury, and tender. There is just enough fat to make the meat really slippery and rich on your tongue. I always get this dish when I go to Olivea.

This is the fish of the day. I didn’t get a chance to taste it but from what I saw, it was nicely cooked medium with some nice crispy salmon skin.

Overwhelmingly, at Olivea, the hits outshine the misses. If you know what to get and stick with it, you’ll never be disappointed. I hate advocating for rigidity in ordering but when you have a dish as amazing as the Garganelli, you really don’t need variety. The atmosphere is clean, modern, and upscale.  The service is quite good, especially for large parties where I’ve hosted big gatherings for students. But the location is what brings me back. When you eat here, you just feel like  you are a part of Kingston.

Olivea, 39 Brock St., Kingston, ON, K7L1R7, www.olivea.ca

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~ by Russ on July 28, 2010.

6 Responses to “Olivea (Kingston) – Order the right things and you won’t be disappointed”

  1. I’ve been to Olivea twice, and both were misses. The first time was during their lunch special ($12) and it was horrific (pasta was mushy and bland). The second time I ordered chicken and it was more char than meat. Not going to go back, unless someone really insists and pays for my food =)

    • Sorry to hear that your experiences weren’t great. Try the Garganelli. You can even get the small portion size for $13. If you aren’t convinced by then, by all means look elsewhere!

  2. We reviewed Olivea when they first opened, and needless to say it was less than spectacular. We kind of passed it off as a new restaurant finding their way, and have always intended of giving them a second look. However, after reading your review I am not sure I want to waste my time, money or daily calorie count. Sad, because the location and ambiance are quite spectacular.

    • So long as you know what you want, I think there are some serious hits on the menu. Some places just ooze ambience from decor or from location or from lighting. Olivea is one of these places and I think sometimes I enjoy the food more because of where I am eating it.

  3. I have been a frequent happy customer at Olivea. Although the service can be hit and miss, the food has been divine!! The bison steak and the gnocchi with veal cheek ragu are my stand-bys. The gnocchi, imho, are the best in the world!! Pillowy-soft with delicious savouriness. The ragu, which made an appearance on your poutine, is a star in this dish. I haven’t been in a couple of months, but always look forward to a return visit. And man, the bartender knows how to make a great Caesar (complete with a pickled green bean).

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