Olive & Finch a Mid-Day Delight

Fab & fresh lunch offerings at Mary Nguyen’s casual Uptown eatery.

021I’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.

From the juice bar,  I started with “Just Beet It,”  a healthy and refreshing combo of juiced beets, grapes,   carrots and oranges.   Beside the tall glass is an Olive & Finch wooden block.
From the juice bar, I started with “Just Beet It,” a healthy and refreshing combo of juiced beets, grapes, carrots and oranges. Beside the tall glass is an Olive & Finch wooden block.
This is the soon-after-lunch scene at Olive & Finch. At noon, I would have had to stand on a chair to snap a photo.
This is the soon-after-lunch line at Olive & Finch. At noon, when it is much more crowded, I would have had to stand on a chair to snap a photo.

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.

Loved the detail of soft cotton print napkins that were simply hemmed with a running stich.
I appreciated such touches as soft cotton print napkins that were simply hemmed with a running stitch rolled around the flatware.

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.

Quinoa salad  with cranberries, honey-roasted carrots, almonds and goat cheese looks sort of like a mixed salad, because a lot of fresh arugula shows when it is presented. The citrus-herb vinaigrette tied everything together.
Quinoa salad with cranberries, honey-roasted carrots, almonds and goat cheese looks sort of like a mixed salad, because a lot of fresh arugula shows when it is presented. The citrus-herb vinaigrette tied everything together.
Mary Nguyen herself came out with the beautiful and filling Milano, a breakfast/brunch dish of hash made with potatoes, onions, Prosciutto, roasted tomatoes, spinach, mozzarella and basil pesto, served in a small iron skillet and topped with two sunnyside-up eggs and a thick slice of toasted bread. It can optionally be ordered as a breakfast burrito.
Mary Nguyen herself came out with the beautiful and filling Milano, a breakfast/brunch dish of hash made with potatoes, onions, Prosciutto, roasted tomatoes, spinach, mozzarella and basil pesto, served in a small iron skillet and topped with two sunnyside-up eggs, a couple of thick slices of toasted bread and a bit of fresh fruit. It can optionally be ordered as a breakfast burrito.
The Bennett is a veggie sandwich with eggplant, sweet peppers, onions, spinach and pesto on ciabatta, served in a paper-lined square baking pan with a pickle and chips alongside.
The Bennett is a veggie sandwich with grilled eggplant, sweet peppers, onions, spinach and pesto on ciabatta, served in a paper-lined square baking pan with a small salad, a pickle and some crunchy chips alongside.
The dessert case is filled with sweet temptations. This lemon tart, easily big enough for two to share, was topped with little puffs of whipped cream topped with lime zest.
The dessert case is filled with sweet temptations. This lemon tart, easily big enough for two to share, was topped with little puffs of whipped cream topped with lime zest.
A baker's rack hear the door features some of Olive & Finch's wonderful house-made condiments and other items.
A baker’s rack hear the door features some of Olive & Finch’s wonderful house-made condiments and other items. How about a custom gift basket for a friend?

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.

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