Monday, November 06, 2006

Olivia's at the Point

Gloucester point-

Olivia's at the Point, in Gloucester Point, beckoned quietly but insistently from just across the Coleman Bridge. My husband and I finally heeded that call one Sunday afternoon.Located in an aging strip mall, the interior is fairly spacious, well-lit and open. We arrived early, beating the post-church crowd, and had our pick of tables. We chose a window-front booth, and checked out the menu.

Sunday offers both regular menu items and specials: lunch and dinner is served all day. Seafood plays a heavy hand here, as does pasta, steaks, sandwiches and salads. My husband was drawn in by the promise of fresh fried flounder ($13.99). Sadly our waitress gave a small shake of her head. "I haven't seen CatBird all weekend, and he's the one who usually brings it to us- but let me double-check." CatBird brings the fresh flounder in? Sounds pretty authentic and local to me.

When she returned with a negative on the flounder, we'd decided to split the Crab Muffins ($7.99), and continued perusing the menu for our entree choices. Finally, Dave decided upon the open-faced prime rib sandwich ($7.99), while I ordered the crab cakes ($13.99). I know, I know, but what can I say: I'm a sucker for the fresh crab.

As the church crowd finally began ambling in, our appetizer arrived in the form of one piping hot plateful of bubbling, crabby, cheesy goodness. Even though cheddar was the dominant flavor, I could still taste the freshness of the crab. Served on a nicely toasty English muffin and crowned with sliced tomato, this was gooey, satisfying goodness. We couldn't finish it all, but I'm happy to report that it reheated quite nicely for lunch the next day.

The restaurant at this point was getting decidedly full, yet our increasingly busy waitress kept up admirably with the hustle. Dave's sandwich came large and in charge, a uniform piece of beef smothered in mushroom gravy and sauteed onions. He dug in with knife and fork, laughed, dug in again. Then, "You may have one bite, and one bite only! This may be the best prime rib sandwich that I've ever tasted." I took my one bite without protest. The meat was beefy and utterly tender, while the gravy was full-flavored, and rich with mushroom-umami. I'm sure I'll try plenty more prime rib sandwiches in my life, but thus far, this was top-notch.

He'd requested fries, but the plate came with a side of veggies. Anathema, if you've been keeping up with his tastes, so he passed the veggies to a runner with another request for fries.
My two crab cakes came fat and broiled, no other adornment necessary. Again, the crab was decidedly fresh, and composed the majority of the cake. A squeeze of lemon provided just the right acidity to the sweet meat. I did request the sauteed veggies as a side, and found the colorful trio of squash, zucchini and carrots quite fresh and tasty. My house salad was pretty average: lettuce, tomatoes, onions and carrots with a sweet, house-made balsamic vinaigrette. Luckily, that left more room to sample Dave's fries, which had finally arrived. They were hot, thin, and just a little spicy- we both approved.

Our waitress returned to tempt up with dessert, and indeed we were tempted by the array of homemade goodies. In the end, we decided to save our swollen bellies, boxed up the leftovers, and headed back home.

Olivia's proved to be a most unexpected groovy treat, giving true to the old adage, 'you can't judge a book by its cover'. Our waitress provided excellent and prompt service, while the owner made rounds to each table, checking to see if things were okay. Those attitudes are, quite frankly, refreshing. As far as I could tell, each and every person who crossed that threshold was privy to the same treatment. Throw in some killer seafood and gut-busting entrees, and I don't have any problem crossing that bridge again- and again- and again.

See additional photos here.


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