I recently jammed way too much food down my gullet at Wild Olives by Todd English, in Boca Raton. Really. Way too much. As in, if I got pulled over for speeding on the way home I was at risk for being horribly embarrassed when the cop noticed I had my pants not only unbuttoned, but unzipped. Which might have been o.k. if I hadn’t been going commando that night.
At any rate, pervy driving description aside, here’s the bottom line about that joint (um, the restaurant joint): not only did I love the atmosphere in the place (enhanced though it may have been by a few margaritas), I thought the food was terrific.
The big knock on celebrity chefs’ namesake restaurants is that the quality suffers if they open too many, blah, blah, blah. And you know what? It may in some cases, but that doesn’t change the fact that people seem to come out of the woodwork looking for nasty shit to say whenever another one opens up. Something that seems to be particularly true (god, that really is an idiotic expression – it’s either true or it isn’t, and I should be gutted and fed to rabid badgers for using such a stupid clichè) in the case of Todd English, for whatever reason. But the chef at Wild Olives, Jaime Pruitt, lives a long way from sucktown, and I personally found every bite of meat that I was served to be great.
I opened with the carpetbagger oysters, which are lightly fried, wrapped in beef carpaccio, topped with a little crème fresh and then served over truffle whipped potatoes on the oyster shell. Funny thing about this: it doesn’t say in the menu that the oysters are fried, which almost prevented me from ordering them: I’m just not a raw oyster fan. Fry it up though, and I’m all over it, particularly when it’s as delicately fried as these bad boys. How were they? Awesome, really. Almost a perfect bite of food, each one of them.
When it came time to order a main course, I was struggling with deciding between the osso bucco and the brown sugar-cured bone-in rib eye steak. After all, I’d already done one non-mammal meat that night, and it was time to lay into something with some meaty weight to it. In the end, I went with the rib eye because one of the few things that sounds better than “fried” is “brown-sugar cured.” And let me say this about that: meat candy. If I need to add more, you’re on the wrong site, my friend.
All in all, a great evening, even if I did have to risk an arrest for public lewdness. And, as it turns out, I ended up making the right main course choice for another reason: I contacted Pruitt a few days after eating there and requested a recipe, and he delivered the recipe for osso bucco. And he delivered it from memory, on the spot, over the phone.
Bad ass chefery, my man, and I thank you for sharing it.