Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Todd English's Olives at the Ballagio, Las Vegas

One of Todd English's most well-known restaurants, Olives, located at Bellagio resort & casino, offers refined Mediterranean inspired dishes at reasonable pricing and extremely generous portion. 

We came here to celebrate my mother's birthday 2 years ago and we fell in love with everything from the balcony view, to the food and service.  At that time, the restaurant offered a 3 course meal for $25, which was a bargain and a half.  The portion was huge and it was delicious.  Plus, our server at the time was some sort of a mind reader.  She did everything we wanted without even having to ask her.  I was hoping to see her again, but no luck.  A service minded being with a proactive, warm character probably has progressed into management or more already.  

We sat down at the same balcony gazing at the same majestic view of the Fountain and the strip.  The weather was sunny, yet breezy.  So, I ordered a refreshing raspberry lemonade while my parents settled for freshly brewed iced black tea.  

Lunch menu
Complementary bread and olive tapenade.  The salty tapenade tasted best with fluffy, olive oil focaccia bread.  I love nibbling on the thin, crispy flat bread, which were baked with cheese until golden brown.  Crusty cheese is so addicting (to me).

My sister and I argued what we ordered last time; beef or tuna carpaccio.  Since it was pre-food blogging days, I didn't have pictures handy with me for reference.  That is no longer the case nowadays.  We finally agreed on beef carpaccio which is a different variation from other places.  When it arrived, we were stunned by its massive plate, and rather volcano-esque appearance.  Thin, rare slices of beef created a blanket over a block of polenta and a bed of greens.  The colourful dish was decorated by shaved parmesan, cipollini onions, drizzled with balsamic reduction, garlic aioli, and scallion cream.  With so many dimension of flavour and textures, my sister, B. Bo (the monster) single-handedly finished the entire carpaccio plate all by herself as I watched in amazement.  

I was least thrilled with Todd's caesar salad.  The eggless roquefort caesar dressing had a pungent, blue cheese-like taste, and I preferred the nutty, sharp parmesan taste in the caesar dressing over this.  Also, I wish there was more characteristics of a caesar salad to it, like the tanginess from capers or lime, and more  anchovies.  

The next dish was hearty and delicious dish which we shared it among the family.  Chicken and vegetable lasagna layered with whipped ricotta and fall vegetables in a red pepper puree, topped with mozzarella fondue and spinach pesto.  It was creamy, yet with a slightly acidic touch and nice aroma from the pesto.  
For the last dish, my mother screamed for turkey panini when we ordered only to realize after it was flatbread she was looking for.   The panini was huge.  Served on multigrain bread, the multi-layered turkey was lathered with tart cranberry relish and creamy melted brie.  It was served with a side of sauteed onions, pickle, greens, and fried pickles.  She got too full and couldn't really finish it. 
 As much as I hate to admit, ever since I saw Snooki raved about fried pickles on Jersey Shore, I felt some sort of hypnosis to try it ever since.  I'm pretty glad I did because they were delish.  The batter was some kind of buttermilk, seasoned batter, like southern fried chicken.  They just tasted like really crispy, seasoned pickles, and even better with ketchup.  While my mother didn't touch her panini, I devoured all of her fried pickles.

Our experience the second time didn't compare to the first memorable one.  Nonetheless, the portion and quality of the food are still impressive, especially for the value.

Food: 3.5/5
Price: $$$
Ambience: 4/5
Service: 2/5
Value: 4/5

  Olives (Bellagio) on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. We just came back from L.V. staying at the Bellagio, and we also ate at Olives. The Beef Carpaccio was amazing, my son had the Caesar Salad and he said it was the best he'd ever eaten. I had a lobster roll which was good, but wished I ordered that vegetable lasagna. All in all we totally enjoyed our meal and the service we had was excellent. Will definitely go again.