Not as expected
So we finally had an opportunity to try out Eve Olive after so many recommendations. Eve Olive is an all-vegan restaurant on Rutherford Road occupying the site of the former Hilltop Bistro (RIP). Now, we’re not vegans by any stretch, but we definitely enjoy vegetarian foods when done well. Quite often this is the realm of Indian cuisine and fusion restaurants. We were excited to see what a place that can only serve plants could come up with.
Our visit this time was for dinner on a busy weekend. The restaurant only has a few tables so reservations are a good idea. There was quite a wait to be acknowledged at the door, so we gave up and seated ourselves (our friends had already arrived).
Eve Olive has a decent selection of wines, beers, and cocktails at reasonable prices. The physical limitations of their bar, though, meant they aren’t well stocked, and they were unable to accommodate a classic (but off-menu) cocktail order. No big deal – after all, we were really just interested in the food menu.
Annnnnd, this is were it gets tricky. Perhaps our expectation was wrong, or our experience with vegan food too limited, but we were surprised (and disappointed) by the menu. We expected to find interesting and creative vegetarian dishes that would show us what plants can be. Instead, the menu is largely made of of common items (burgers, pizzas, pastas, salads, etc.) but with their meat and dairy ingredients simply switched out for their vegan alternatives. There’s a Beyond Meat burger, pizzas with vegan “cheese” or meatless “ham”, and even souvlaki with non-meat “chicken”. As people who do eat meat, these facsimile foods were not exactly what we were looking for or excited to try. This was a let down but obviously this is a very subjective point. In fact, if we were vegan, we’d probably really like that we could get a “chicken” salad or juicy burger.
We started our dinner with an order of crispy BBQ cauliflower bites. These came out a bit cool from the kitchen, almost like the BBQ sauce was applied cold, which wasn’t great. Still, it was a good dish. The beer-batter was actually more like a shell around the cauliflower florets, which made them kind of crunchy – a fun surprise. The BBQ sauce was rich and tasty. Overall these were pretty great – except for the temperature.
We also had an order of fries that came with ketchup and chipotle mayo. These were perfectly good. But were priced a bit steeply at $14.
Our main was a pizza to share. We decided to try the Greek Pizza, which had homemade vegan feta, olives, tomatoes, and onions. Interestingly, Eve Olive decided to dress the pizza with whole olives rather than sliced. This made for a cool-looking pizza (see above), but was a bit awkward to eat without those little guys wanting to roll away. The “feta” was a bit too runny and was also strangely sour. The combination of the sour cheese and the acidic tomatoes made the whole dish a bit overpowering for our taste buds.
It’s also worth noting that the pizza crust was a bit unusual. It was egg-free (obviously) and that meant it had a texture and consistency more like a cracker than like dough. It literally crumbled in our hands.
The service at Eve Olive was a bit mid throughout our visit. Our server seemed perhaps like a recent hire and was slightly awkward and stilted in her interactions with us.
Finally was the price. Our two drinks, two appies, and the pizza came to around $80 with taxes and a modest tip. We consider this to be ok value (except for the fries – what was up with that?).
We had high hopes for Eve Olive but it just didn’t live up to its reputation for us. The fake-meat items on the menu were of little interest to us, though perhaps practicing vegans would be quite happy with them. Food taste was fine, except our pizza which was a bit of a miss, and the service and price didn’t win us over either. Eve Olive is not a bad place for a meal, and certainly vegans should check it out, but it didn’t fully work for us.