Sunday, May 18, 2008

Restaurant review: Oliver's Naturals

I prefer independently owned restaurants over chains to the extent that I don't even go to chain restaurants. As much as independently owned restaurants are a notch above chains, Oliver's Naturals is a notch above other independently owned restaurants. Of course the food is good, and on their one-page menu, I can find over a dozen appealing options, while at other restaurants with six-page menus, I may find only two edible items and no appealing items. That's because I'm a vegetarian, and non-vegetarian restaurants can't seem to think of much to serve vegetarians other than pasta and salad.

But what I like most about Oliver's is not the food but the atmosphere. Adam is the waiter, cashier, chef, and owner. He's helped out by his mom, Diana. When you enter, they greet you warmly. The cooking area is right there, behind the counter, so as they cook, they may ask you questions about how you want your food. The seating area is small, and a busy time seems to be any time there are more than about 4 customers in the restaurant at a time. The other day when I was there, there was a party of 8, and Adam told me, "I've never had so many people in one party before." The smallness means the customers can all talk to each other, as well as to Diana and Adam. One day, a customer was on the cell phone talking to a friend, saying something along the lines of, "I'm at Oliver's Naturals. You should come join us." She said to Adam, "Want to talk to her?" and passed him the phone. At most restaurants, it is not typical for the owner to get on a customer's cell phone to talk with a customer's friend. This was a first-time customer, but she had already caught the atmosphere of the place enough that if felt natural to her to offer Adam the phone.

Too many restaurants have gone out of business, so I hope that Oliver's gets plenty of customers so they can stay open for a long time to come. On the other hand, the smallness is what makes it such a great restaurant, so I want it to stay small.

No comments:

Post a Comment