Address: 57 W 200 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84101. 801.364.1401.
Review: I had a dilemma yesterday: where to eat. I was scheduled to lunch at Lamb's Grill with a bunch of other politiphiles before a 1 p.m. settlement conference, but I wasn't feelin' it. Instead, I walked to Capital Theater contemplating Siegfried's (one of my favorite SLC haunts), but I've eaten there many a time, and variety is the spice of life, no? It was during this internal dialogue that The Olive Bistro (TOB) caught my eye. My decision was made.
TOB is a quaint little shop with a summer patio on 200 S. With a visible kitchen that is all of seven square feet, there isn't much room to prepare foods that require extensive preparation, so panini and salads are TOB's go-to dishes. Initially, the black truffle salami panino caught my attention, but they were out of salami, so I ordered the hummus and pepper jack panino. (Quick Italian lesson: "panino" is singular, "panini" is plural. Saying panini when referring to a single sandwich is never acceptable. Likewise, saying paninis is like saying bananases: it no makey no sense.)
To be honest, the idea of putting together hummus and pepper jack on a panino makes little sense to me, which is exactly why I had to try it.
Amazingly, it worked. As with any sandwich, it all starts with the bread. TOB's ciabatta is just thick and hearty enough to hold the ingredients and make the sandwich substantial. The crisp on the bread was very well done, and was accomplished with a minimum of added lipid. Complimenting the bread was a wonderful hummus, which ended up being the real star of the sandwich. It was earthy, smooth, salty, with a hint (it felt like only a hint) of tahini. The pepper jack wasn't very peppery, but it was smooth and creamy, which is all it needed to be. The greens, thankfully, were not wilted and slimy as they so often are in grilled panini, and the tomato was wonderfully tasty. A lot of thought went in to constructing this panino, and it showed.
Alongside the panino was a mixed bag of stuff. There was small green salad. Good. A small selection of fruit. Okay. Blue corn chips from a bag and some salsa. Blah.
In all, TOB produces a mean panino. We'll be eating here often before taking in events at Capital Theater.
Rating: 7/10 (5/10 is average).