Whoever is in charge of the kitchen knows a thing or two about cooking. Each of the dishes we sampled was delish. Friends who have visited the new spot report similar experiences. Where Sea & Olive fails is in the front-of-the-house operation. Upon entering, we were practically pounced upon by a server. We were dining early before a movie and were the first customers, so we had our choice of seats in the attractive dining room or equally beautiful patio. As our server handed us the menu she informed us that Sea & Olive is a Turkish restaurant. The menu options are mostly Turkish dishes, some with influences from neighboring Mediterranean countries.
There is an entire page of small shared plates, or mezze, as they are referred to throughout the Mediterranean. Shaksuka is a stew of eggplant, tomato, pepper and onion, usually baked with an egg on top. Sea & Olive’s version arrives sans egg, but with eggplant so tender that it melts in your mouth. A bowl of anchovies is simply that, with the addition of olive oil and a few slices of onion and garlic. Both are excellent with the chewy, grilled pita bread.
Other small plate options include hummus, cacik (the Turkish version of tzatziki), grape leaves, borek (meat filled pastries), grilled fish, saganaki (grilled cheese) and assorted vegetable dishes, but oddly enough, there are no plates of the restaurant’s namesake, olives! Small plates range in price from $5-13, with most running $8 or less, making the special combo of two mezze plates for $16 and four for $30 not such a great deal.
Salads, priced $6-8 are easily enough for two to share, or as an entrée with the addition of grilled salmon, shrimp or chicken for $6 more. Coban presents a large bowl of chopped cucumber, tomato and red onion with tangy vinaigrette. Entrée courses are a bit pricey, ranging from $16 to $27. Although the portions are sizable, my grilled octopus was accompanied by only two tablespoons of sautéed greens; my husband’s grilled salmon was augmented by the same greens and some vinegary onions. The addition of a starch side would go a long way toward making these dishes seem more fairly priced.
My octopus was perfectly prepared, but my husband’s dish took a lot longer than expected. When the salmon arrived it was perfectly medium rare, but the skin was rubbery. The number one rule with fish skin is that if you can’t serve it crispy, remove it from the plate. Meanwhile, my dish had grown cold as I sat waiting for his entrée to arrive.
Neither our server, nor the others that stopped by ever asked why my plate sat practically untouched, nor did they offer to correct the mistake. When our server brought the check she finally admitted that she forget to put in the order for the second entree. We were the only diners in the restaurant! How can you forget to put in an entrée when you only have two customers?
At the end of the meal, our server presented us with two miniscule pieces of baklava as an apology. With an error like that the salmon entrée should have been comped. When we got our bill, we were also overcharged for a glass of wine. I pointed out to that the menu indicated house wines were $4 a glass during happy hour. She explained that that only applied to drinks at the bar, although it doesn’t state so on the menu. In the end, we were given the happy hour price, but this is just another example of folks who don’t know what they’re doing running a restaurant.
I’ll give Sea & Olive a second chance, only because the food was well prepared and the atmosphere charming. However, they need to get someone in there who knows how to manage the front of the house operations if they hope to succeed. Queens will forgive less than stellar food, but we love good service!
Sea & Olive
2390 Wilton Dr., Wilton Manors