A Culinary Oasis
It was midafternoon when Austin and I walked onto Olio’s plant-covered patio. Surrounded by all the foliage, I felt like I was about to eat at the Botanical Gardens.
A Makeover with Pizzazz
Chef Ben Poremba has found a lovely way to bring pandemic spacing to what was once an old service station. The use of the large paved area for outdoor seating adds a whole new dimension to the restaurant.
But the cellophane-wrapped plastic utensils were a disappointment—yet understandable. It’s just another step in sanitation that we need these days.
Hmm . . . What to Drink
As we eyed the drink list, Austin asked, “Have you ever tried the CBD-laced beer?”
“No,” I replied. “How does it make you feel?”
“I’d say slightly relaxed.”
“I don’t need relaxed,” I injected, “I sleep 8 hours each night and sometimes take an unscheduled nap at the computer. I need an energy booster.”
“In that case, you might want to stick with Mountain Dew and a power bar,” he smiled.
I ordered my usual iced tea with lemon.
Who’s Open Today?
Olio is Chef Poremba’s lynchpin at his culinary oasis on Tower Grove Avenue. Besides Olio, there’s Elia (open Friday, Saturday for dinner only); Nixta (upscale Mexican, not open for lunch); and Chouquette Bakery (closes at 2 or 3 p.m.). AO&Co is open everyday, but Monday.
Also offering fine food at the Ben Poremba crossroads are Indo (Southeast Asian, dinner only) and Union Loafers (lunch, but closed weekends)
I wished they’d get their times more in synch, but until then I’ll have to rely on Yelp help.
Are You Suffering from Food Fatigue?
The setting was comfortable, the server engaging, and each dish artistically presented. The Marinated Beet Salad was worthy of a culinary Oscar. Austin and I battled each other with our little plastic forks to scoop every last bit of goodness from the bowl.
If you want to give your taste buds a getaway from burgers and fries, here’s a chance for a memorable Mediterranean food cruise.
And . . . Ben told me that Benevolent King in Maplewood will be re-opening in a few weeks. Oh, happy day!
I took this photo of Ben a few years ago. His brilliant food is in the tradition of the world-acclaimed chef, Yotam Ottolenghi.
Glossary of Menu Terms:
Tahini: Mideastern paste made from ground sesame seeds. You can sub cashew or almond butter in recipes.
Bourekas: Baked Israeli pastry. Ours included spinach and cheese.
Harif (or Harissa): A North African spicy sauce used in Israeli cooking
Dukkah: A Middle Eastern crunchy blend of herbs, nuts, and spices often use in dips.
Labneh: A thick, tangy yogurt made from cow’s milk.
Fatteh: Crushed flatbread layered with other ingredients.