Sherman's Food Adventures: The Gray Olive

The Gray Olive

Oh the power of Instagram...  Normally, a small little breakfast and lunch spot in Burnaby would attract as much attention as the fried chicken available at Swiss Chalet (yes, that was supposed to be a joke!).  However, the many posts on IG of avocado toast, the kitchen sink and chicken & waffles have vaulted The Gray Olive Cafeteria into a social media darling.  As such, I wasn't successful with my first visit as the lineup was over an hour long.  However, after Sunday morning hockey, I was able to snag a table after only 20 minutes of waiting.  This post is actually a combination of that visit and another with the fam.

Since I already have seen it countless times on IG, it was only fitting that I ordered the Avocado Toast on sourdough with oven-roasted tomato and balsamic reduction.  Okay, let's be honest, this wasn't a complex dish.  Most people could just make this at home.  With that being said, I liked it.  The sourdough was toasted enough so it was crunchy and held up to the wet ingredients.  Ripe and soft, the fresh avocado was mild-tasting, but the tart and sweet tomato in addition to the balsamic elevated the flavours.  It could've used some salt though.  For my main, I had the Chicken & Waffle sporting 2 fried chicken thighs, spicy Korean ketchup, whipped brown butter and real maple syrup.  This was on point with crispy waffles that were fluffy and airy.  The fried chicken was crunchy and well-seasoned while the meat was not dry.  Mostly sweet with only a mild kick, the Korean ketchup was pretty tasty.

Everyone else decided on The Kitchen Sink consisting of 2 eggs, sauteed veggies, green onion, sausage, bacon, cheese and G.O. potatoes (hashbrowns).  For $11.00, we thought this was a fair price for the amount of food.  Combined with the mix of veggies (which were still vibrant and firm), the potatoes were crispy while pillowy soft inside.  A layer of melted cheese really brought everything together.  There was enough salty bacon and meaty sausage for impact while the runny egg added some richness.  This was pretty good, albeit rather greasy.  It did need some drops of hot sauce to really bring out the flavours.  On my other visit, I tried the Pork Belly Break Sandwich.  This was pretty good in my books with a toasted airy bun.  The marbled egg was runny while the pork belly was just fatty enough while being tender and roasted caramelization.  Aromatic and full of umami, the roasted sesame mayo was impactful.  There was a touch of spice from the chili-marinated tomato as well.

We also had 2 bennys including the Smoked Ham Hock and the Steelhead Salmon.  Of the 2, we enjoyed the ham hock more as it proved a balanced salty smokiness that helped provide punch to an otherwise mild-tasting Hollandaise.  It was creamy with a touch of lemon (more tang for the salmon benny), but it needed the salt from the ham.  The eggs were poached beautifully in both cases while served on a firm biscuit.  Buttery soft, the steelhead was prepared properly, but completely bland.  We needed to sprinkle some salt to liven up the dish.  The side of G.O. potatoes were on point being lightly crispy and airy soft inside.  From these 2 visits to the Gray Olive, it is obvious that they fill a void that exists in North Burnaby.  Sure, there are other breaky spots, but not serving the same type of food at the G.O.  Prices can get up there, but the food quality and portion size seems to be in proportion.  Love that they are now using real plates and silverware now.

The Good:
- Generally tasty food that is a bit different than those in the neighbourhood
- Nice people
- Fair portions

The Bad:
- Some items could use more salt
- Pricing is on the higher end for this type of restaurant


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