Things to Do

Olivia’s – Tip to Tail, Farm to Table

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Tony Maples Photography


The dress I got for Christmas was calling from the closet for a night out on the town, and what better way to celebrate its inaugural wearing than dinner at Olivia’s, a mid-century modern farm-to-market eatery in the heart of SoLa (that’s South Lamar) in Austin.

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Photo: Courtesy of Olivia’s

Something about sneaking into the entrance located at the back of Olivia’s reminds you of entering a tree house, or maybe just walking through your neighbor’s back door. Once inside, the big bar done in warm wood beckons you to sit and sip a cocktail.

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Photo: Courtesy of Olivia’s

Pass by the open kitchen where staff dressed in black bounce back and forth, the sights and smells teasing you with what’s to come. The tables placed at discreet intervals mean your private conversations stay that way even if you aren’t seated in one of the booths cocooned around the back wall. Cool turquoise and soft green walls hasten relaxation and the exposed wood and rock details echo the cocktail bar.

Sipping a glass of pinot noir, my husband and I looked over the menu and discussed ordering the Prix Fixe menu at $75 per person consisting of 6 chef chosen dishes. For an additional $40 per person, you could add wine pairings to your dinner. Ultimately, though tempting, we decided to choose our own plates.

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Photo: Marcy Stellfox

The first battle we had to conquer was which appetizer to order. We were torn between the seared scallops, fresh mussels, or oysters, although the cheeseboard and risotto also caught our eye. In the end, based on our server’s recommendation, we went with the mussels. The large steaming bowl of chewy goodness swimming in a coconuty, creamy, red curry broth was perfect for sharing. The warm, velvety broth was so good we had order additional bread (free of charge) to sop up every drop.

Olivia’s Salad, Photo: Marcy Stellfox

Then we both ordered the Olivia’s salad – romaine lettuce, shallot, gremolata, pecan and green goddess dressing. While not listed as an ingredient in the salad, my husband and I were both surprised by the unexpected smoky bacon flavor in each bite. Our server assured us that there was no bacon at all in the salad, but mentioned the pecans were smoked. We stared at her in disbelief until she made her way back to the kitchen and then reappeared with a ramekin of these magical pecans. As soon as I popped the first little nugget into my mouth, I realized she was correct. Those smoked pecans tasted every bit like a thick slab of your Grandma’s Sunday morning bacon.

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