Friday, October 14, 2005

Olive - 743 Larkin St - San Francisco - CA

olive1.jpgThis is a copy of my most recent article for SFist in which I eat my way around the Bay Area in alphabetical order and then write about it in SFist style using the 'royal we'. This week we are on the letter O.

Somewhere deep in the Tenderloin you can find a secretive wooden door, sometimes marked by 'Daddi-Dee' waiting to see if you'll bum him a cigarette or slide him a note. The journey through the less than calm streets to 743 Larkin is certainly worth making because once you step over the threshold from sidewalk to Olive, you'll find a charming little bar with the friendliest staff, a good selection of cocktails and a relaxed, happy go lucky vibe. Thankfully, Olive isn't trendy but it is cool. We love being surrounded by art we can't quite afford and Olive does a good job of displaying lots of desirable wall candy with exhibits that change regularly. It is a small, homely place with high white walls, a polished wooden floor, tall tables and bar stools plus two cubby hole booths, flanking the doorway, where larger groups of six or so can casually gather to eat, drink or do both. Olive is a great place to meet a bunch of people with different needs. Gathering a group of friends together informally can be an organisational nightmare sometimes, you know the score. Different arrival times, some have already eaten, others are starving whilst the rest just want a light nibble. Beer drinkers, wine drinkers, cocktail lovers - whatever - Olive caters for all of these scenarios with ease.

Olive has recently given their menu a facelift and it makes us smile. It almost looks like one of those tacky laminated menu cards, illustrated with photographs, from Denny's. Perhaps that is the joke? At least Olive don't include any tacky pictures of the food. Most of what is on offer is the same as before, they have added to rather than change customer favourites.

olive.2.jpgIn our eyes, the Ginger Martini ($7) is the Olive classic. It was a friend who raved and raved and then raved some more about them that drew us here in the first place. For about a year they stopped listing it and sometimes they wouldn't even make us one if we asked, citing an excuse about not having the necessary ingredients. Perhaps we begged for it one too many times because now it takes almost pride of place on the drinks list, topped only by the Ultimate Olive Martini (with goat cheese stuffed olive, of course). Whilst some people rave about them, the ginger drinks are, perhaps, a little too sweet for other tastes, but the spicy kick that comes later is the part that makes it almost worth while. If you fancy something more refreshing, the Raspberry Champagne Mojito ($9) is a longer drink that does a good job of quenching the thirst.

After trying several things on the menu over the last couple of years, it is the mushroom pizza that we always pounce on first. Served on a metal plate with a thin, slightly blackened, crackery crust, and a topping of wild mushrooms and cheese scented with truffle oil ($12), it's not going to win any prizes for being the most authentic Neopolitan pie in town but even so, we never have any trouble polishing it off with gusto. All the food here is fairly good. You are not going to find the best Ahi Tuna you have ever tasted, but it is surprisingly better than what you'd expect from a hole in the Tenderloin. Garlicky melted brie with pineapple chunks might sound slightly freaky but we defy you to resist another mouthful. Salads are vibrant and fresh and the best news of all: nothing is priced at more than $14, with most of the items at $10 or less. They even have a happy hour from opening until 7pm every day with the Olive cocktails reduced to $4 and the pizzas at $7. So hey - what are you waiting for? Why are you still loitering at work? Get over there right now and start the party.

743 Larkin Street
San Francisco
415 776 9814

PS. Apologies. Due to continued internet difficulties, Becks & Posh is unable to publish as frequently as usual.

Archive Alert! On this date in 2004 we were posting about Choux "Potatoes" at the Chowhound Picnic.

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Olive - 743 Larkin St - San Francisco - CA


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