First impressions of Olivea

The Uptown 'hood has no shortage of restaurants, but Olivéa, the new food temple from John Broening, Yasmin Lozada-Hisson, Keith Arnold and Stephanie Bonin (the foursome behind Duo), located at 719 East 17th Avenue in the former Aix space, could be just what the neighborhood's been waiting for: an upbeat, vibrant and seriously fun spot to order charcuterie and a lovely bottle of pink wine, namely the Le Preuire de Montezargues Tavel.

I can't think of a better place to spend a Friday evening, which I did just four days after Olivéa's May 4 opening. The small bar, flanked by a walled wine rack, was standing-room only, the dim-lit dining room, all dark woods and minimal splash, a full house. And while it's way too soon to unleash a wave of optimistic judgments, if the effusive comments made by diners on their way out the door are any indication, then I'm not the only one who's smitten.

Really smitten, especially with Broening's charcuterie. I foraged my way through a generous slab of duck liver mousse with fig compote and pickled onions; jamon serrano with Manchego and membrillo; lamb sausage sided with minted yogurt, slices of smoked duck breast and boudin blanc paired with mustard.

So far, so very good. Already this is a restaurant that's on my list of permanent must-haves in this city.

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