Brooklyn’s Fort Greene neighborhood has a bustling food and wine scene these days. We don’t wander that way for dinner very often, but whenever we do we find another favorite restaurant. For a special treat on a day off from work, we managed to beat the dinner rush and find a table at Olea. Every time we have tried to eat there in the past, it’s been so crowded we couldn’t even get the hosts attention to find out how long of a wait it might be. This time we walked in and got a table right away. Even better, we got there early enough for Happy Hour, something that we almost never get to enjoy, at any restaurant.
Friday nights are Spanish night at this Mediterranean Taverna: Paella, Tapas, and Spanish wine. Because it was a holiday weekend, we decided to make an event of it. We took our time with the menu, and ordered a glass of Cava to start. Its not often that we order sparkling wine, but it does set the tone for the evening. The cava had a hint of sweetness, but still hard that vital crispness that gets the mouth watering, and makes everything on the menu look that much better. Falaffel-crusted artichoke hearts gave a good start to the meal; a soft, savory center of warmth on a chilly evening.
The real treat was the Paella. I had never had the opportunity to try it, but when Tina suggested ordering it for the table, I jumped at the opportunity. I have never been let down by a slow cooked meal, and this was no exception: a rich base of sausage, chicken, fish, octopus and rice cooked for ages, and mixed with mussels and clams with a splash of fresh lemon. To accompany the paella, we opted for the Spanish wine on special, a Verdejo that was both rich and floral, with hints of minerality. It was a great meal to linger over, picking out the choicest morsels, trying different combinations of ingredients with each sip of wine. We sat over the meal, chatting and sipping our wine, then sipping a second glass, and still barely made a dent in the giant platter of food.
Stuffed full of seafood, we couldn’t even consider a dessert, but it seemed like a perfect evening for a digestif: a glass of olorosso Sherry for me, and a Greek Muscat for Tina. Both wines were sweet enough for a dessert course, but had that hint of something extra to cleanse our palatte of the fish flavors from dinner. We sat and enjoyed them as we finished up our conversation, enjoying the live Spanish guitar music and relishing the fine evening. We were glad to finally try Olea; the space seemed cramped and frantic when we have peeked in the window, but our evening was perfect. The staff was attentive, the space wasn’t too loud or crowded, and the food and drink were well executed and well paired. Now we just need to find another time where we can beat the crowds there.