Thursday, March 31, 2016

Branching Out with Some Mediterranean Food at O-Live Tree


O-Live Tree Mediterranean Cuisine
2010 Main Street 
Irvine, CA 92614

It's gotta be pretty scary opening up a restaurant. There are so many factors that can impose your doom, and that does not even include whether you have great food or not. You have to have a great location, or people will not know where to find you. There has to be good word of mouth, or people will not show up. You also have to self promote on social media and get your name out there, or you'll be passed up by one of the other estimated 10,000 restaurants in OC.

That's why we found ourselves at O-Live Tree on a recent Friday night. We were invited by the restaurant's PR person, as they held their first ever bloggers night. Even if you have never been here before, you know where this place is. It's a few doors away from the iconic Mick's Karma Bar, which has done a masterful job of overcoming this less than desirable restaurant location, and been buoyed by a huge social media presence.

O-Live Tree is located right in the heart of the Irvine Business Complex. surrounded by hotels, high rise buildings, and other restaurants. This restaurant I'm sure does a good business at lunch, but you probably can't pay the rent by serving just one meal a day, so the challenge has to be getting people to enter their parking structure, and finding their way to your restaurant. It's worked for El Torito Grill, McCormick and Schmick's, and the aforementioned Mick's, so why not O-Live Tree. This blogger dinner was a step in the right direction, along with their recently launched website as well.

We arrived here at just before 6pm, just as the last of the business people were clearing out of the parking structure. With validation, you have an hour and a half to eat here without incurring a parking fee, which is easily done with the speed of service here at O-Live Tree. When entering the restaurant, takeout is to the right, and the relaxed, well lit dining room is to the left. We noticed numerous takeout orders being picked up during our visit.

Their menu is pretty much what you would expect from a Mediterranean restaurant in OC. They have plenty of appetizers, wraps, soups, sandwiches, salads, and plates. Prices are very affordable, with appetizers being in the $5 area, and entrees ranging between $10 to $16. We quickly made our selections, and anticipated a very good dinner. Let's see how everything worked out for us at O-Live Tree Restaurant.




Katie had been fighting a bit of a cold, so she was drawn to this Homemade Red Lentil Soup ($4.90). Onion, potato, butter, and red lentils made up this creamy soup, which she is convinced helped her get over her cold quicker. Not so sure about that, but this was just what the doctor ordered for her.




This Falafel ($5.90) was probably the lone hiccup of the night for me. I found this falafel, which came four to an order, to be a little on the dry side, which was easily remedied with the provided well made tahini. I'm also used to the insides of a falafel being a little more on the green side, than this version. There was a very strong cumin flavor included here, which was a nice surprise.





Entrees were out next, and Katie selected this Chicken Kabob ($10.75) as her meal. I have to say that I was pretty impressed with the chicken here. It was very tender, well marinated, and had a nice char to it. With the plates at O-Live Tree, you have the choice of two sides and a sauce. Katie went for the humus and the rice to balance out her meal. The humus was tasty, and a great companion to the soft pita bread. A very good sized portion for the price.






As is my strategy when eating in most restaurants, if a combo meal is offered, I usually gravitate towards it, so I can try more options in that particular restaurant. That was the case here at O-Live Tree when I ordered this Mixed Combo Kabob ($16.90). For my two kabobs I had the lamb and the beef. I actually liked the beef version better, as it was cooked to medium, was still somewhat tender, and was spiced nicely. The lamb was spiced well, but a little on the gamy side. It could have just been the pieces I had, but I'd go for the chicken next time. I'm not really a tabbouleh or mixed salad fan, so I went with the same rice and humus that Katie got. I liked the humus, and it mixed well with the rice, which is how I like to eat my humus. The tzatziki sauce was very solid here, and I liked that this was a thicker version than most I have had. It really clung to the food, and added extra flavor.

Hopefully this bloggers dinner gets the word out about this hidden restaurant. Owner Melike Mehmetoglu was very hands on during this dinner, and you can tell how proud she is of her 4 month old restaurant. You can't help but root for someone like her to succeed in this tough business. Most of the items we tried were very solid, and something we would come back for. O-Live Tree is definitely making moves to get their name out there, as they just recently launched their website, and are very active on Facebook. Thanks to everyone at O-Live Tree for the invite to experience their restaurant.

If you would like more information about O-Live Tree Mediterranean Cuisine, head to their website here: http://www.olivetreeirvine.com/index.html

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