With a thousand other businesses along downtown Dayton’s Third Street, you could probably pass by Olive every day without paying notice to the little green and white building which was once called Wympee Restaurant. It doesn’t look like much, and the little edifice seats less than 30 people inside. But this is one book you really don’t want to judge by its cover. Olive epitomizes the urban dive concept: It’s unassuming, laid back and if you haven’t set food in the doors of the place, you just haven’t done it justice.
Wow. This food is amazing.
The menu at Olive is sort of a unique blend of Americana burgers and Mediterranean delicacies. All of them are homemade, original recipes with a creative twist; the “urban burger” is filled with green leeks and aioli. The “summer in a bowl salad” has an orchestra of about a hundred fruits and vegetables, but it all comes together beautifully. The chill seared ahi tuna is sushi-grade; served alongside some very tasty roasted vegetables and a rice-and-bean mix. Even the simple dishes are great; the risotto is a creamy combination of rice and whatever vegetables are best that day. Every dish is just so fresh and complex; words don’t do them justice.
What’s better, Olive is one of few restaurants in the city which seems to have a true mastery of good vegetarian dishes. Virtually every menu item is either vegan, gluten-free, or it can be easily modified. All too often restaurants take “vegetarian” to mean “replace the meat with more cheese.” This food is healthy and holistic. Even the deserts are a creative, irresistible group. There are cheesecakes, cobblers, cakes and amazing tarts. If that’s not good enough, the much adored Jeni’s Ice Cream of Columbus is on hand, as are goodies from other local bakeries.
With all this said, the food itself might not even be the best part; Olive has an atmosphere that is genuinely unique in this city. For a small price, you can bring your own drinks (Don’t worry, a lot of other people are doing it too) and they’ll even provide you some chilled glasses. Olive is the most sustainable restaurant in Dayton, currently the only restaurant in the area certified as such by the local sustainability council. It goes to great lengths to reduce garbage, to compost what food doesn’t make it to the table, and to remain energy-efficient. So, in other words, the thought that went into this place really can’t be overstated.
It shows. In every conceivable way it can be measured, this restaurant rocks!
- The main issues you’ll deal with at Olive are that price and seating are at a premium. It’s best to call ahead to make reservations to ensure you’ll get a table.
- It may seem unheard of in other restaurants in town, but yes, a lot of people really do bring their own wine bottles. It’s acceptable.
- Many menu items are subject to change depending on what ingredients are available. Best to ask about these.