Fab & fresh lunch offerings at Mary Nguyen’s casual Uptown eatery.
I’ve been intending to try some of Mary Nguyen’s much-praised food since she opened Parallel Seventeen (or P17, as the sign reads). I still haven’t been there or to Street Kitchen Asian Bistro in Denver’s southern reaches. But the other day, I had lunch at Olive & FInch, an Uptown neighbor of P17, and Nguyen’s newest eatery + bakery + café + mini-market for specialty items.
After just one visit, and I understand what the acclaim for her fresh, healthy farm-to-table approach has been all about. Olive & Finch is a busy bistro — at least by day. I suspect it operates at a more relaxed pace at dinner time than in mid-day.
Fortunately, my friend, who had arrived well ahead of our noon lunch date, snared a table, because by the time I walked in the door, the line of people waiting both for take-out and for tables filled the little bistro’s entry area. We sat across from each other at one end of a hefty wooden table for six. Two other people occupied the other end of the table, and while we were eating, two other parties of two slipped in between us to take the two middle seats, finished eating and got up to leave. The amazing thing about Olive & Finch is that there was enough ambient noise so that we couldn’t really hear out tablemates’ conversions but we could easily hear each other. I don’t know how they do that, but it’s a nifty trick.
Nguyen is one of the growing number of Colorado chefs and restaurateurs who walk the walk when it comes to using as much natural, organic, sustainable and locally grown/raised food as possible. And she puts those fine, fresh ingredients together into attractive and delicious dishes. I happen to like leafy greens, fresh fruit, nuts, cheeses and other wholesome dishes, but while I’m not much of a meat-eater myself, carnivores and omnivores alike have Olive & FInch’s Rueben, Cubano and Greggers in the sandwich selection.
Olive & Finch serves breakfast, lunch and early dinner. Once the weather warms up, I’ll bet the outdoor tables will be in demand. Take-out business is robust, what with a St. Joseph’s Hospital and City Park nearby. There’s also the drive-by option. Order in advance, stop at the curb and pick up your food and proceed to, say, the park or the Denver Botanic Garden.
Price Check: At breakfast and lunch, breakfast items (served with fruit), $6.50-$9.25; soups, $4 for a cup and $6 for a bowl; salads, $7-$8.50 for a half-order and $10.50-$12.50 for a full order; sandwiches (served with chips and pickle), $9.50-$11.25.