Cafe Olivia [2/5]
2 (40%) 1 vote

Cafe Olivia
A store specializing in outdoor living seems like an odd place to fine an upscale cafe. So when I first heard about Cafe Olivia, located inside Across the Pond, I knew I had to try it out. They are open for lunch Monday through Saturday, so I seized the opportunity one weekday.

Cafe Olivia visible from the door of the store, so it’s easy to locate. The counter was deserted when I arrived, but someone quickly came over to take my order. They offer eat-in, take out, and pick up food services. You can order at the counter (for take out) or simply take a seat (for eat in).

The menu offered a broad array of choices with novel combinations like a brie and peach panini next to old standards like the turkey, avocado, and bacon. Wanting something more savory than sweet, I selected the half panini and soup with the pesto chicken panini.

As I waited for my food to come up, I surveyed the eat in area. It was clean and neatly decorated. The doorway to the cafe acted as a firm border between the shop and the restaurant and it was easy to forget that I was even in a shop, although the occasional squawking of birds would recall that fact. The cafe provides free wireless and combined with the inviting atmosphere it would be a great place to hang out.

My meal arrived promptly and generously sized. The soup of the day was a cold cucumber soup. Creamy and refreshing, it was a perfect compliment to the meltingly hot weather outside. However, the mild cucumber flavor was overtaken by the strength of the dill, making the soup seem a bit unbalanced.

The panini was large (a whole one would have been entirely too much food for me, especially since they come served with a side!) and colorful. The chicken, thinly sliced roasted chicken breast, was quality meat and was cooked well. The greens and thinly sliced tomatoes were fresh. The parmesan added a nice pop of color and texture. The housemade pesto was fresh and delicious, but again, it overpowered all of the other flavors. The sandwich essentially tasted of pesto and bread with the meat, veggies, and cheese providing only texture.

The bread itself was a little strange. I generally expect paninis to be a soft bread which is grilled to give it a bit of crunch. In this case the bread used had a firm crust–I could tap on it and hear a hollow sound. My best guess is that it was a ciabatta as it had the dusty, musty aftertaste that I associate with ciabatta, though ciabatta usually has a softer crust.

I wanted to like Cafe Olivia more than I actually did. They use fresh ingredients and their menu shows creativity and real promise. The service was prompt and friendly and the eat-in-area serene. Unfortunately, the balance of flavors was off in both items I tried, with something completely dominating each dish. I would be willing to give them another try to see if some of the other menu items have the same issue but I was disappointed with what I had.

Total for the meal: $10.21 (Includes soup and 1/2 panini and an unsweet tea)

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