Today for lunch I headed over to one of my favorite places in Dayton, Olive, an urban dive. I like Olive in large part for the food, of course. I also like that it’s near where I live and work. I like its atmosphere, both its cozy tasteful interior and its cheerful patio. I especially like the people who work there, a friendly hard-working bunch (hi Kim and Sandy and Laura and Betsie!). I’ve been eating at Olive about once a week, more or less, since they opened in the summer of 2011.
Olive, because its building (a former Wympee’s) is small, can be difficult to get into. You definitely need reservations for dinner and also for lunch if you go during peak time, the noon hour. I don’t usually make reservations, though. For lunch I drop by around 1 p.m. and can usually get in with little or no wait.
For brunch on Saturday I’m often there when they open at 10 a.m. and never have a wait. Today I arrived about 12:30 and inside was pretty busy but the patio was wide open, so I snagged a nice spot in the shade, at the long table in the foreground of the photo to the left.
Visit Olive on Facebook to see their specials
and lots more food porn
Something to know about Olive’s is that it’s not a place to go if you’re in a hurry. If you’re in a rush, go get fast food. The pace at Olive is laid back. It can take some time for the food, but it’s made fresh from good local ingredients and worth the wait. I’m never in a hurry at Olive because I either have gone with a friend or two and we chat as we wait, or, often as not, I’ve gone alone and brought a book.
A trick, however, that you can use to your advantage is to know what you want and to order it when a server asks what you’d like to drink. Makes things easier all around and speeds up the process a bit. Another trick is to like Olive on Facebook because there you can see enticing photos of their daily specials. Today I took advantage of both tricks. Having seen the special online, the meatloaf sandwich (pictured to the right), I knew what I wanted, and as soon as Laura seated me, that’s what I ordered.
Armed with an iced tea and the latest copy of Granta, I settled in on the patio on this nice spring day and awaited my lunch.
While I was waiting, I overheard some people on the other side of the patio fence as they discovered my gay car parked there (“How cool is that!” they said) and took a picture of it. But that wasn’t the strange incident.
The strange incident involved a pair of couples who joined me on the patio for lunch.
The first couple to arrive was two lesbians. One might have suspected from looking at them, but one of them was wearing shorts with a rainbow graphic on them. Laura had set the high top (middle of the photo to the left) for them and the couple they were to meet, but the one lesbian wanted to sit in the sun (table at the right of the photo). No biggie—both tables were open, Laura didn’t mind where they sat, and they helped Laura to move the napkins and flatware.
The lesbians’ friends, a heterosexual couple, then arrived to join them, but oh, they weren’t sure they wanted to sit in the sun. Oh, that’s okay, we can sit back at the high top in the shade, the lesbians said, laughing a bit and explaining they’d just moved from that table. No, no, you want to sit in the sun, the straight couple said, we don’t mind, although the wife said she’d have to get her hat and asked her husband for their car keys.
All this negotiating and maneuvering and fetching of hats took some time, but soon enough the two couples were settled in and I had my lunch.
And this is where the strange incident happened.
I had my book propped open, my sandwich in my hands, my mouth full of delicious meatloaf, and the wife looks over at my table and says, “Oh that table would be perfect for us. Would you mind moving over there (pointing at the high top)?”
Would I mind? Yes, of course, I’d fucking mind. I’m already in the middle of my sandwhich, babe, and why should I move for you?
I didn’t actually say that, of course, but instead said, “Um, I’m already settled here,” but the wife didn’t take the hint. “Could we join you?” she asked. “Um, sure,” I said, and over the four of them came, introducing themselves. The husband put out his hand to shake mine but then realized I was holding a sandwich and not really in a position (or the mood, though he didn’t notice that) to shake hands.
I returned to my reading (trying to ignore their conversation right on top of me), and Laura came out to take their order, a bit surprised that they’d moved yet again. “Oh, here at Olive’s you have to be friendly,” I said, which is true, especially inside where the tables are close together, although out on the patio I hadn’t expected there to be two other empty tables and then have people insist on sitting next to me.
The wife remarked that in Europe people share tables all the time. Yeah, I’ve lived in Europe, so I know that’s true but not when there are empty tables to be had.
The silly foursome chattered on, puzzling over the menu (“What’s a socca?” and “I don’t understand the benestacks”), talking about everything they’d done so far today (they get up early!) and everything they were still going to do. Friendly people but a bit queer, and I don’t mean the lesbians.
I enjoyed my sandwich very much though, as well as the champagne vinaigrette dressing on the salad (usually I do patio herb). Not wanting to be rushed off from my little corner of the patio, I also got a scoop of salted caramel Jeni’s ice cream, which Laura knew is my favorite.