**EDITED: THIS RESTAURANT WAS CLOSED AS OF JULY 2013**
Hot Olives just recently moved into a new location in Winter Park right next to the beautiful Rollins College campus, but this is not a college hangout type of place. Quite the opposite. Though there is a large bar anchored right in the center of the dining room, this is a place that is better suited for the Foodie type of patrons- those who are seeking a fresh and more modern gourmet experience. The menu is the same for lunch and dinner, and that’s not such a bad thing but the menu was a little mish mashed- kind of all over the place. They use a tagline on their website- “Simple. Modern. Unexpected.” Well, let’s see…..
We visited on a Saturday afternoon. Hot Olives was not busy at all though the patio of the Shipyard Brew Pub was packed only a few doors down so people were out and about- they just weren’t here. We got a table outside on the “patio”- really just a tiny little area on the corner of New York and Fairbanks Avenue. They have actually done a great job with the use of large potted plants to make the space a little more of a quiet spot so that you do not feel like you are being stared at by all the traffic.
Since it was lunchtime, we skipped over all the steak, pork and pasta entrees and decided to split the Spicy Pecan and Blue Cheese Salad along with the Signature Blackened Fish Sandwich. However, before the food came we were treated to bread and Olive Tapenade. I usually steer clear of the bread pre-meal (unless it is Bruschetta as you may know) but the Olive Tapenade just looked too tasty to pass up. And it was. Very very tasty. Even better, we also got some flatbread crackers with the bread. Win. Yummy. Chad and I fought over the last little bit.
Our server knew we were sharing our entrees so he had the kitchen split them up on separate plates. Nice touch. The salad was good- not too different from the chopped salad you can order from Outback Steakhouse- a salad with spicy sweet pecans, crumbled blue cheese and sliced apples. It was not exactly “modern and unexpected” as their tag line suggests.
Our Blackened Fish Sandwich was made with the fish of the day which was Corvina and we chose the Sweet Potato Wedges as our side. (Please bear in mind that this picture is only half of the sandwich as our plates were split for us.) If you follow this blog on a regular basis, you will notice that we tend to order the blackened fish sandwich everywhere we go, and this version at Hot Olives was just another typical version- nothing too unique (except that the fish was Corvina and not the usual Mahi- not that you could really taste the difference.) It wasn’t bad at all, it just wasn’t “modern and unexpected” as their tag line suggests.
Sometimes we will visit a place for lunch and scope the menu for dinner, but nothing at Hot Olives really stood out for us to want to return anytime soon (other than a few interesting sounding appetizers.) Still, the service was great and the food wasn’t bad, but If we were going to spend a little more money on a meal, we would probably try any one of the other higher end places around the Park Avenue area. We are still looking for that Park Ave area gem and unfortunately Hot Olives wasn’t it.