I had the pleasure of dining at the Purple Olive of St. Augustine this past weekend. There are plenty of eateries to choose from, but this one caught my attention from the positive reviews on both Urban Spoon and Yelp.
Florida has to be the strip mall capitol of the world. Like many hidden gems, don't let the location put you off. Yes, it's in a strip mall. When you open the menu, you forget all about the location.
When we first sat down, we were treated to a small bowl of some deliciously marinated olives. I tasted a little fennel and mint in the olive oil, being an olive lover I was very happy to see these little gems right away. We were so impressed with them in fact, we started with an Olive and Cheese plate from the appetizers. This was a huge plate, easily enough for 4-6 people. Unfortunately the olives from the first sitting didn't make it on to the appetizer plate. We did have some black olives stuffed with sun dried tomatoes, and what I would call nicoise olives those were the highlight. There were some Spanish olives on the plate that seemed to be extra salty. I wish those had been marinated or in a different brine.
Another shiny delight was the sesame cilantro marinade on the house salad. WOW. I would have walked out with a bottle of that stuff if it were possible. It was lightly gingered, just enough to give flavor and a little bit of heat. The sesame and cilantro worked so nicely together, it was just delicious.
For dinner I ordered locally caught Triggerfish that was served blackened with wok-fried veggies and I opted for a side of kale with golden raisins and pine nuts over the cashew pesto linguine. It was topped with a lump crab slaw that was siracha spicy and simply divine. I really couldn't get enough of this, but also couldn't finish (damn those tasty olives!)
Steven opted for a classic dish from the menu, lamb shank over mashed potatoes. The meat was prepped skillfully and just fell off the bone. Sometimes lamb can be fatty, but this was cooked perfectly and the gravy was very tasty.
This is certainly a place I would teleport to Orlando if possible, in lieu of that, I'll definitely return when traveling to St. Augustine.