Monday, May 7, 2012

Hope and Olive (Greenfield, MA)

Hope and Olive is probably Greenfield's best "normal" restaurant (the previously reviewed Manna House is the best overall, but it's not a normal restaurant), but it has not lived up to the wonder that was its predecessor, Shelburne Falls' sublime A Bottle of Bread.  I'd have taken A Bottle of Bread over just about any other restaurant in Western Massachusetts, and their small menu was packed with both flavor and technique.  Following the tragic fire that took that gem away from us, the owners moved their operation to the corner of Hope and Olive Streets in Greenfield, a far, far larger space than the Shelburne Falls location, and changed the name and menu.  The latter change was not well received, but I can't blame the owners for trying something new in a new location.  For the first couple years, this was a decent place to go, but nothing even remotely special; however, in the last two years, Hope and Olive has become a great place to go.  There is a smaller menu than before, similar in size to the days of A Bottle of Bread, and because of this the kitchen staff can focus on doing a few things very well, instead of many things decently.  There is also a solid drink menu.

The last two times I have been to Hope and Olive, my mother and I have split the Shrimp and Grits appetizer.  Now, I will be up front with you; I love shrimp and grits.  Seriously, I would take shrimp and grits over almost anything else food related if it's made properly.  Hope and Olive does a pretty good job for a restaurant north of the Mason-Dixon line; the shrimp were perfectly cooked both times, and the grits were smooth and creamy the first time, just like they should be.  The second time, they were...well...gritty.  I'm okay with this, but it's not really how it's supposed to be.  The flavors aren't southern, but that's okay too; Mediterranean is acceptable when shrimp are involved.  My mother has also had a couple of the salads and enjoyed them immensely, both as appetizers and as a meal.

For an entree, I cannot recommend the Apple Cider Braised Pork Chop more strongly; it's tough to make me happy with pork chops in a restaurant, because they tend to be overcooked and dry to satisfy the people who are afraid of under (aka properly) cooked pork.  The pork is succulent in this case, however, and bears a strong apple flavor without being overly sweet.  The Brussels sprouts on the side are also very good (and you'll recall from my review of The Corner Room that I'm not typically a fan of them).  I've also had the beef burger, and this was also properly cooked; it's not as good as from Brick Wall Burger, but it's well made and the bun is fantastic.  The real star of this place, however, is a side; the french fries are amazing.  Absolutely incredible, crispy with just the right amount of salt.

You also really have to be impressed by the drink menu at this place; if you're a wine fan, they have what appear to be a selection of both very good (albeit expensive for Franklin County) and moderately priced wines.  For me, the beer list is far more important; at this moment, they have twelve beers on tap, from both local (Berkshire Brewing Company, Ginger Libation Real Ginger Brew) and non-local (Brooklyn Brewery, Brewery Ommegang, and Rogue Ales, among others) breweries.  They have housemade lemonade for you non-drinkers (or you bourbon drinkers, there's always Kentucky Lemonade, a mix of Maker's Mark and lemonade), and a pretty decent looking cocktail list.

This is a vegetarian friendly restaurant, as well; possibly even vegan friendly, though I don't often associate with such people, so I've never asked.


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