Saturday, December 27, 2008


806 E Roy

Everybody knows that Spain is super funky! From their whimsical buildings like the Guggenheim Bilbao, to Cervante's bizarre satire, to Picasso's quirky bullshit, Spain is the funkiest place in the goddamned, motherfucking universe! If you were to rate a nation's funkiness by comparing it to a band, Spain would be George Clinton. France would be Cradle of Filth. Britain, of course, would be Coldplay. Burn! You suck, Britain!

Another funky Spanish innovation is the “small plates” trend, about which I've previously complained. You can ultimately thank chef Jose Andres, Spain's unofficial Minister of Funk and Patron Saint of combovers, for bringing small plates to the USA. Olivar is yet another Spanish restaurant that serves small plates, but with a twist: their plates are not only small, they're all really fucked up shapes.

We started with the apple salad ($7), which was a neat pile of julienned apple tossed with shredded manchego cheese and finely diced chives. The apple was very crisp and snow white, and the sweetness was contrapuntally balanced by the tang of the manchego. The serving dish was just a plain white rectangle, but the curvy saucers provided to each place setting really BROUGHT THE FUNK!

The pumpkin soup ($7) was very smooth, pleasant and mild mannered. Floating like an island in the center of the bowl was a tiny garlic flan. While the flan itself was creamy and proficiently prepared, the garlic flavor was mute. I found this to be a lame gimmick. Added as an afterthought was one of those very long, skinny, gnarled, crispy breadsticks that I'm constantly comparing to a wizard's wand. What the fuck are you supposed to do with these things? They're too hard to sop up any remaining soup, and while they could be possibly used as a swizzle stick, the soup was pretty homogeneous and didn't need stirring. And they're clearly not useful as spellcasting equipment, so why bother? Really, this forgettable dish was created solely as a vehicle to showcase Olivar's FUNKIEST BOWL. The bowl the pumpkin soup came in was RIDICULOUS: it was about 12 inches in diameter, but the well in the center that actually held the soup couldn't have been more than 4 inches across. Which means the rim was TWICE AS WIDE as the bowl itself! This of course instantly begs the question: why stop there? How about a bowl whose rim covers the entire table? You could provide the customer with an extra long spoon to scoop the soup out of the center, and you could serve all the other diners directly onto the rim, thus dirtying less dishes. Or a gargantuan bowl with a rim the size of an Olympic race track. Racers line up on the huge rim, run the race and the the winner, instead of being awarded the gold medal, gets to eat the soup in the center of the track.

But enough about the pumpkin soup and its handicapped bowl. The Serrano salad ($9), while tasty, should probably be renamed on the menu as “Big Ass Pile of Serrano Ham.” Don't get me wrong; I love Serrano ham and in fact I think it's the best air cured ham, even better than the legendary Prosciutto di Parma. But I wouldn't consider a plate entirely full of luscious coils of thinly sliced ham to be a salad. It did come with a small mound of pomegranate seeds and chopped parsley, but if that tiny amount of plant tissue qualifies this dish as a salad, then a 42 ounce porterhouse steak topped with sauteed onions is also a fucking salad. Still, 9 bucks is a great price for that much Jamon Serrano. The only thing funky here was Olivar's idea of what constitutes a salad.

The patatas a lo pobre ($10) were sauteed with onions and bell peppers into a brown, fluffy, and crisp heap. Sunburn pink slices of chorizo spiralled up this hill, and the whole thing was topped with a perfectly fried egg, sunny side up. The yolk was still runny, so when you cut the egg it ran down into the potatoes. A bit of egg and potato, when eaten with a slice of tangy chorizo, was a match made in the funkiest corner of Funk Heaven, which is where James Brown, Rick James, and Curtis Mayfield all went when they died. But not Issac Hayes: when he died his Thetan flew away to Jupiter to live with 95 virgins, or whatever the fuck it is that Scientologists believe.

The Grilled pork Belly Grenobloise ($7) wasn't very funky. The pork belly itself was salty, peppery, chewy, crispy, and all of those other great qualities a properly cooked belly should have. However, the crumbled boiled egg, diced onion, and capers which came with it were all lined up in neat rows, as if the chef who prepared it suffered from OCD, or else had recently done lots of coke, and everyone knows that straight lines are never funky.

For dessert we got the Albondingas de Crodero ($9). Yeah, I know that lamb meatballs are not a dessert, but fuck it. Three large meatballs, crusted with savory brown fond on the exterior but still juicy and pink inside, were served atop a pool of green tomato puree. Roasted hazelnuts scattered across the plate gave a crunchy contrast. These meatballs were FUCKING TASTY, but unfortunately we had to wait for gratification because the plate was too hot. The funkiest thing about this dish, and by “funky” here I mean “dumb,” was the temperature of that plate: the waiter warned us that it was a hot plate but DAMN! We couldn't even touch it for 15 minutes. They had somehow heated that plate to the temperature of the sun. It must have been made from some space age ceramic compound, like the kind of porcelain that they use to make metal- detector proof guns. That plate was so hot it gave my face a tan just sitting there on the table. I understand that you don't want the food to get cold but hot food is overrated. Why can't it just be WARM, so that it doesn't puddle the roof of my mouth in blisters the moment I take a bite? Is not getting seriously injured while dining too much to ask?

I don't like funk, especially the funk that wafts from your mom's crotch. Yes, everyone tells me that funk is “fun,” and that you can't spell “funk” without “fun,” but as you've probably surmised by now, I hate fun. That having been said, I really enjoyed my meal at Olivar. While the presentation sometimes annoyed me, every dish was perfectly prepared, and the prices are reasonable. But don't take my word for it, you funky assholes: put on your pimp suit and gangsta- lean over to Olivar, post haste. Did I just type the word “gangsta?” Oh Heavens!

Rating: 8 aspects of black culture that white people have unsuccessfully tried to co- opt out of 10

Olivar on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the recommendation SG - a fine supper, including the lamb meatballs! We also had the rabbit 3 ways and a daily special of lobster tail with risotto and black trumpet mushrooms. Nice way to dine.

Surly Gourmand said...


I'm glad you enjoyed your meal. It's too bad for me that "Rabbit 3 Ways" wasn't on the menu when we went, because that fucking name begs a million bestiality jokes. I'm such a juvenile shit head.


Your Friend the Surly Motherfucking Gourmand

Anonymous said...

Early morning stalker. I hate all metaphors and analogies. Except yours.

Anonymous said...

How did I land on what may be the only post in which the word "gangsta"