The Black Olive
814 S. Bond Street
Baltimore, MD 21231
The Black Olive, a self-described “authentic organic Greek” restaurant in Fells Point, remains a bright spot in my memory. Being a guest there truly felt like being on a Mediterranean vacation, but one where we stayed in the family home of a good friend.
Russ’ Favorite Scallop Appetizer: grilled jumbo sea scallops on a bed of baby leaf greens: $16
As I said, I love scallops. These were absolutely perfect; I have never had a better grilled scallop, which is a true skill to master. The dish was simply plated, accompanied by some greens that were dressed in, to my surprise, something that tasted like wasabi; this gave the dish a great kick, but I truly wasn’t expecting that flavor at all.
Black Sea Bass grilled black sea bass filleted tableside, Black Olive fish sauce, savory cous cous: $27
This fish was sweet-tasting, low in oil content and tender. Though grilled over charcoal, the fish all but fell apart while being deftly filleted and plated for me tableside. The house sauce had the perfect accent of acid that one looks for to complement a light fish dish and lent a pleasant creaminess. All of the entrées were accompanied by a triangle of savory cous cous, almost cake-like in consistency; it was delicious, but I would have liked the option to choose from a few sides or to be given a vegetable option.
Dining at The Black Olive reminded me of attending a great dinner party at a friend’s house. Although a high-end establishment, nothing is overdone there — the linens, glassware, and place settings are simple and classic; the plating is rustic, almost family-style; the ambience is more of an airy Mediterranean house than a business; and the waitstaff is attentive, but not overly formal.
The most impressive part of the experience had to be the personal attention that we were given and that we noticed other parties received, as well. Our server, Marlon, took the time to walk us through each of the fresh seafood offerings on the menu by actually getting us up from our table and pointing items out in their open-air display. It was the fact that he had clearly tried everything on the menu that impressed me and meant to me that his recommendations were coming from an informed and helpful place. Ultimately, I chose the Black Sea Bass because of his explanation of it as “sweet with a buttery finish”. His description of the fresh octopus salad also led Ryan to try it — something completely outside of his palate — and he loved it!
For the prices, the food didn’t have the WOW factor I look for, but there is something to be said for humble, rustic simplicity.