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Wobbly Olive cements its reputation for eclectic excellence with west side location 

click to enlarge Red-wine-marinated lamb kabobs over Mediterranean quinoa tabouli see a sweet and tart pomegranate gastrique. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Red-wine-marinated lamb kabobs over Mediterranean quinoa tabouli see a sweet and tart pomegranate gastrique.
We know the Wobbly Olive well. We lauded its launch at its original Cinema Point location in mid-2014, when it pioneered craft food and cocktail culture amidst the sea of chain outfits. We’ve attended most media menu previews ahead of seasonal reboots; drunk plenty with owners Inez and Sean Fitzgerald (also at their other ventures, The Collective on Barnes Road, and Sakura Speakeasy, inside Rooster’s House of Ramen); and we’ve tracked current Corporate Executive Chef Supansa Banker since her educational journey through Pikes Peak Community College and The Broadmoor’s Summit restaurant, then Nosh and 2South. I’ve also witnessed her prowess close-up, cooking alongside her at the Colorado Restaurant Association Pikes Peak Chapter Food, Wine & Beer Expo.

All that by way of transparency, we’re unsurprised that the new Wobbly Olive west location in Old Colorado City — smart with brick and stone reveals and green accent panels around dark woods and table settings — mirrors its eastern sister not just for the identical menu, but overall quality. It walks the same line of playful and approachable gourmet eats (most in the $10 to $15 range, topping out at a lavish $26 lobster fettucini) — eclectic to the degree that one can’t pin down any set style, other than international fusion that shows its hand with Asian influences (Banker is Thai-born), plus European, Caribbean, Central and South American, and multi-regional American.

We skip the holdover classics for newer menu items. The starters list holds much promise. A trio of fried goat cheese croquettes crunch with rosemary-spiked panko breading, and strawberry-jalapeño jam buffers the goat tang with sweetness, while pickled cabbage and arugula (used as garnish widely on the menu for pepper-punch and acid offset) act as perky garnish. My dining mate, who generally dislikes goat cheese, likes these. The vinegary sweetness of a tart pomegranate gastrique similarly balances the gaminess of red-wine-tenderized summer lamb kabobs, plated beautifully — Wobbly Olive has always prioritized colorful, ornate presentations — as mini skewers over a Mediterranean quinoa (versus typical bulgur wheat) tabouli, wherein cuts of cucumber and tomato lighten the load with bursts of their juice and crumbled cotija gifts slight saltiness.
Location Details Wobbly Olive
2611 W. Colorado Ave.
Old Colorado City
Colorado Springs, CO
308-2619
11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday-Thursday; until midnight Friday and Saturday
American

Still better, generous shoulder tender steak tacos start on thick, fluffy flour tortillas marked by the grill, the juicy, chewy cuts topped with a cooling avocado crema to counter poblano chimichurri heat. Mixing with that zesty element, crisp kohlrabi threads and pickled cabbage add crunch while a blue cheese dressing and crumble gifts a pleasing, pungent funk; it’s a complex layer of flavors that illustrates Banker’s casual deftness. And perhaps best: bourbon-glazed pork belly steamed buns arrive three pillows of starchy, sticky taco (like what I imagine clouds would be like to eat) to a thatched dumpling-style basket, the fabulously fatty rectangles of meat glistening with thick edges of barbecue bark, that char carrying into the unctuous taste. Big chunks of pineapple might place the dish as Hawaiian or at least West Coast, their sweetness answering the heat of a sambal aioli sauce. (Purple cabbage and arugula — check, check.)

Under a salads and bowls menu section, the beet salad stands as another plate pulled out of a coloring book, as vibrancy goes. The purple roasted roots assemble around a granular mound of delicate housemade ricotta, joined by juicy yellow and red baby heirloom tomatoes, pats of sharp pesto, and peppercorn-sized balsamic pearls for a molecular nod and fleeting vinegar burst. A spicy tuna poke bowl features fresh hunks of the fish bathed in a spicy coconut-ginger sambal sauce, ready to mix with edamame, rice, seaweed salad and a thin-sliced kimchi-cucumber salad. The bowl also hosts fried garlic shavings and a ladle of sweet balsamic-ginger soy, to apply as desired.

Having gone heavy on those lighter plates, we nab only the Parisian gnocchi from the entrée list on our visits. Unlike the heavier, more common potato gnocchi, these dumplings hail from pâte à choux, just flour, eggs, butter and water. Wobby Olive makes their own (it’s comparatively easier than the potato version), bathing them in a rich bacon-sharp cheddar-Parmesan sauce that’s covered in baked bread crumbs. As our only dish of monotone color, it still speaks loud with big truffle oil essence and the porky accent.

For redundancy, match it with the Dirty Diana cocktail, which stirs both truffle oil and salt with olive brine into vodka — hoo boy, potent! The cucumber mint cocktail pairs well with the poke bowl, in particular, as another vodka-based drink with lemon citrus, honey sweetness, and more herbaceousness from elderflower liqueur. Prices on the house specialty page (that includes these drinks), a part of the much larger cocktail menu, drop from the $9-to-$13 range down to $6 during happy hours (11 a.m. to 6 p.m., weekdays), when all food also drops by $2 per plate.

Elsewhere, the Altitude Adjustment spins a gin with lime and a simple syrup made from pandan leaf, referred to as Southeast Asia’s vanilla — it’s common to that region and known for its overt hints of vanilla, while also exuding a hard-to-describe grassy backbone that’s almost coconut nutty and scantly earthy. In this application, with butterfly pea flowers that slowly stain the drink an opaque purple, the wholly unique sip sports something like a cocktail’s equivalent to a stir fry’s wok hay: its breath. Matching that hue at dessert, purple pansy flower petals ring the top of a perfectly textured vanilla crème caramel, a treat of clean, two-note elegance, non-cloying or synthetic-leaning like the flans of so many Mexican eateries.

I’d find fault in our visits if I could, but I can’t even knock service or timing or a less-than component of a plate. Banker and the management/ownership team have done their typical due diligence in refining each item, making it pretty, and keeping everything creatively off-kilter in their defining Wobbly way. Location-wise, along a savvy restaurant row, this storefront holds less cultural importance than the original, but convenience alone as a Westside anchor still makes it appreciated.

The Fitzgeralds have averaged an ambitious opening per year since becoming restaurateurs, and yes, we’ve heard scheming around possible partnerships and ventures yet to come. And Banker appears to be the right match to maintain the growing empire’s culinary tone — diversity met with whimsy, on solid foundations. All told, it makes for a wholesome narrative of homegrown success, somehow made as simple and stylish as olives resting in a martini glass.

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