Is that really Greenwood traffic or the roaring Mediterranean?
Special to The Seattle Times
8516 Greenwood Ave. N., Seattle; 206-706-4121
Hours: 10 a.m.- 10 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays, 10 a.m.- 11 p.m. Fridays- Saturdays.
Beer and wine / credit cards: AE, MC, V / no smoking / no obstacles to access.
What a find! Few joints west of the wine-dark sea evoke the bountiful extravagance, heady pungency and sunny sidewalk camaraderie of the Mediterranean cafe better than Olive You, new this year in Greenwood.
It's hard to say just what crooks the most enticing finger. At the garage-door entrance, which opens the whole place onto the sidewalk, there's the decidedly Levantine air of intentional repose, as gentlemen nurse cups of strong Turkish coffee while whiling awhile around mosaic tables. One of them is likely to be owner Timur Leno, the Turkish international businessman whose passion for food finally nudged him into opening his own spot.
Walk in and there's the meze itself — platters of dolmas, fried eggplant, marinated artichokes, shrimp-stuffed squid, feta-stuffed mushrooms, pepper spreads and every imaginable stripe of olive — encased behind glass, yours (with grilled pita bread) for the asking at between $4.95 and $6.95 a plate.
Across the aisle is the, yes, soda fountain, whence come the more conventional espresso drinks along with milkshakes and ice-cream sundaes. Venture a little farther in and you'll find the restaurant, open kitchen along one side, where table service delivers the marinated lamb or grilled-vegetable panini sandwiches, kebab platters, stuffed-eggplant dishes, house-made boreks (stuffed pastries), seafood platters and more.
Every day brings a hot-case special — choice of two dishes out of the warmer served with pilaf — for $7.95 at lunch, $12.95 (plus two apps) at dinner. You may be tempted, as the stuffed eggplant and roasted vegetables inside the case look appetizing indeed, but we suggest you eschew the hot case and its maddening tendency to toughen your lunch and build yourself a sumptuous meze feast instead.
This you may enjoy within an atmosphere that's casual, convivial and so relaxed as to sometimes be slow — the time-honored Mediterranean way. Parking is available in back, but this ticket recipient wants to make sure you know the drill: It's only free after 6 p.m.
Anatolian panini: Using advanced scientific research techniques available only to restaurant critics, I hereby pronounce Olive You's paninis and hot sandwiches to be ... really yummy. Among your choices are the Giuseppe, with artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, mozzarella and pesto; the Olivetti, with marinated chicken breast, olives, tomatoes and feta; and the Tuscany, featuring sauced-up chicken strips with multicolored peppers, Walla Walla sweets and melted mozzarella. The Anatolian was my favorite — a sort of horizontal, modified gyro — with marinated lamb, feta cheese, roasted red peppers, onions and tomatoes between two flaps of herby grilled pita bread. Let's just say this delectable beast is not a sandwich to eat in the car. Even the terrific shoestring fries tasted European.
Hot-case lunch special: Choosing two items from among spinach boreks, stuffed eggplant and steaming pasta was the trick, but choose I did: Marinated chicken skewers and glistening roasted vegetables. With each plate comes a fragrant heap of buttery pilaf, which in my experience was delicious. So was the array of olives, peppers, squashes, garlic, celery and all manner of root veggies — chopped and roasted with plenty of herbs. Alas, the chicken arrived bland and altogether punished from its time under the lamps. Next time, I'm heading for the meze.
Itemized bill, meal for two
Anatolian panini $8.95
Hot-case lunch special $7.95
Kathryn Robinson: email@example.com
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