Get the Skinny on OP

Mette, Shellie & I attended the Olympic Provisions’ Friends & Family Sneak Preview lunch this afternoon, so I thought that in the spirit of the season, I’d share my pictures and first impressions, which are somewhat blurry and favorable, respectively.

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Mette, Shellie & I attended the Olympic Provisions’ Friends & Family Sneak Preview lunch this afternoon, so I thought that in the spirit of the season, I’d share my pictures.

opservicewithasmile2We arrived at about 11:45 am, and the whole OP team was out in full force–Nate Tilden met us at the door with a hearty welcome, Elias Cairo & Jason Barwikowski & team were cooking like crazy, and Elizabeth Bisegna Gaston, Tyler Gaston, Carly Laws, Marty Schwartz, and Michelle Cairo were servers and runners extraordinaire.

The restaurant was filled with all sorts of fun food folk, Lincoln chef Jenn Louis was seated down the way, Beaker & Flask bartender Timmy Davies lunched at the next table while Beaker & Flask chef Ben Bettinger made the rounds, Beast chef Naomi Pomeroy put in an appearance, and the under the stairs nook was entirely occupied by the Ned Ludd crowd.

Tucked into the tall mustard-colored Olympic Mills building on SE Washington Street, the restaurant is beautiful. All the partners worked many a long night, fueled only by Sheridan’s sandwiches and Hershey’s miniatures and lots of beer, to turn it from the completely unstructured warehousey space it once was into a truly lovely dining space. The dining room is long and narrow, the north side flanked by small square tables crafted from Indonesian hardwood and soft brown leather banquettes, the other by the handmade metal and hardwood shelving that serves as wine racks/bar/dishware storage, and the open kitchen.

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I would just like to say that Michelle is responsible for this blurry picture.

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If you sit at the bar, you have a full view of all the kitchen activity, and you can exchange pleasantries, or unpleasantries, depending on the nature of your relationship, with Eli and Jason.

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Fine Eli, if that's how you feel, I will skedaddle. I just needed to get a picture of your meat, okay?

Here’s a glimpse of the kitchen in action. The narrow space opens up into an expansive prep area, which houses the walk-ins, a huge prep table where communal dinners and cooking classes will eventually be held, and of course, the famous MEAT sign.

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The door to Elias’ mysterious Meat Department, which isn’t quite in action yet but soon will be, opens off to the side of the dining room. Once the USDA has stamped their approval, this is where the meat magic will happen. I’d show you what’s inside, but it’s a bit of a mess. So for now, you’ll have to use your imagination. I also encourage you to read the interview I had with Eli a few weeks ago, entitled “Getting to Know Elias Cairo and His Meat.”

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And last but not least, here is a picture of what I’ve dubbed “The Nook,” a neat, cozy little space under the stairs that can seat up to 12 people.

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You are probably thinking, that’s all well and good, but show me the food! Okay. The menu was seasonal and simple, a double-sided half sheet with five self-explanatory dining categories on the front: Small Offering, Pastry, Sandwich, Egg Dish, and Vegetable, and a selection of beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverages on the back. Here is what we ate:

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A simple salad of roasted beets, fresh mint, ricotta salata, and pistachios, with arbequina olive oil and a dollop of creme fraiche.

A divine quiche-like tart made with taleggio cheese, chives, and tender crimini mushrooms.

A divine quiche-like tart made with taleggio cheese, chives, and tender crimini mushrooms.

The smoked chicken sandwich, with julienne of sweet Honeycrisp apple, pickled fennel, and crunch celery, on Pearl Bakery kaiser roll. Smoky, crunch, tart, sweet, this sandwich was a hit.

The smoked chicken sandwich, with julienne of Honeycrisp apple, pickled fennel, and crunchy celery, on a Pearl Bakery kaiser roll. Smoky, crunchy, tart and sweet, this was a hit.

The Moroccan-style fried eggs came over a thick piece of toast, with a sweet cumin tomato sauce  and a smattering of scallions and parsley.

The Moroccan-style fried eggs came over a thick piece of toast, with a sweet cumin tomato sauce and a smattering of scallions and parsley.

With a slight crunch and moist innards, the griddled banana-walnut bread was delicious, particularly when dipped in the warm honey that accompanied it.

With a slight crunch and moist innards, the griddled banana-walnut bread was quite tasty, particularly when dipped in the warm honey that accompanied it.

We also had the cauliflower soup, but I forgot to take a picture of it. It was smooth, creamy, and so flavorful. It’s amazing how the sometimes underestimated cauliflower can shine in a soup. It was garnishless though, which was a pity, because I do love garnish on a soup. Ahem.

The wines by the glass list is heavy on reasonably priced European wines and featured two sparklies, a rosé, four whites and four reds, $7-$12 a glass. Carly has been hard at work on the wine list, I bumped into her the other day downtown carrying a truly formidable pile of research, so you can rest assured you will drink well at Olympic. I ordered a glass of the Michel Delhommeau Cuvée St. Vincent Muscadet 2008, a nice dry, refreshing white wine with hints of apple.

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I would have liked to have eaten more, but that is what tomorrow is for. In closing, I present you with a copy of the Olympic Provisions menu, so you can plan your lunch tomorrow too.

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107 SE Washington St. * Mon-Fri 11am-6pm (open for dinner as well beginning Monday, Dec. 14th * 503.954.3663 * www.olympicprovisions.com