Order the Duck Meatballs

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The atmosphere at Olivea Saturday night was happening, vibrant, hip. We were lucky to get a table -- it's a very small restaurant. Not cozy -- so much going on -- but hip was what we wanted. The service was excellent. The hostess who greeted us was very helpful; she was offering the three of us a place at the bar, but saw a table open up and let us snag it. The waitress was charming and pretty darn close to perfect on a scale of hovering to attentive.

Olivea_Denver_Int.jpg

I ordered the last steak with patatas bravas -- one of the nightly specials -- and I'm a little disappointed because it was something I could have had at any restaurant. My bad ordering. Another got the skirt steak. He was thrilled to be able to order this because it is rare in a nice restaurant. The portion was smaller than he expected, but very good. The best entree we ordered was the duck meatballs on creamy polenta with shaved pecorino. They had a really great flavor. Duck can be kind of fatty, but these were not. The polenta was as creamy as they boasted and went well with the smooth marinara sauce served with it.

Another ordering mistake was the salad. It was a good-sized plate of mizuna with Gorgonzola, figs, hazelnuts and a delicious pancetta sage dressing. This was a perfect salad for winter, and we all loved it, and each of us could have had ONE OF OUR OWN instead of sharing just one. There were a lot of extras like bread and nice water crackers, so we had plenty of food.

And the drinks were awesome. The sangria had fresh fruit: pineapple and strawberries, and was not served to ice cold. Remember this is December. I had gin with lavender and rosemary water. It was exceptional, and I don't usually pick gin out of the crowd.

I like mussels spicy hot, so Olivea's called to me because they were served with fennel, which I love, chorizo and garlic. The quality of the mussel itself was excellent, but the chorizo seemed to fight, flavor-wise, with the rest of the bit in the sauce. Overall, not very spicy. We were all wishing we'd tried the fried chick peas with harissa aioli. Everyone around us had it and they looked very happy with their choices.

The price of the meal was reasonable for the quality, and I'd recommend Olivea and will return. Maybe order the Duck Meatballs. Try the chick peas, get a whole salad of my own.

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