Olympia Provisions, formerly Olympic Provisions and known for their charcuterie, is an aesthetic mashup of fine dining and hipsterishness similar to the kinds of spots you’d find in Gastown (Vancouver). Having just driven nine hours round trip for In-N-Out in Medford that very same day, none of us were particularly hungry, but having burgers for two meals in a row had my stomach begging for something to cut the grease lining my insides.
The Aviary was closed for President’s Day, as was Biwa. We were planning to go to the SE location of Olympia Provisions for lunch the next day (Fred’s choice), but given that it was open for dinner, we made a reso and headed there.
Olympia Provisions SE is hidden away in the Industrial District of Portland. Two blocks further down and the sounds of the freeway blares all around you, but once you reach the building that houses Olympia Provisions, it’s eerily quiet. Especially at night. The area is very clean, and there are few people around. Given that we were in an industrial part of the city and it was dark and quiet and no one seemed to be around, you might think that we were worried about getting jumped. But it didn’t really feel that way at all. Maybe I’m naive? I don’t really know anything about crime rates in Portland. If any local has any cool facts about the area, feel free to message me! I’m curious but not curious enough to do personal research.
Inside the restaurant, dim lights illuminate tables, and what I believe are pig legs hang off to the side of a wall of wines and various other alcoholic beverages. During the daytime I imagine the atmosphere of the restaurant would be quite different, but for dinner, there’s definitely an elevated-but-hip dining experience vibe to the place.
An old-fashioned for one of the designated non-drivers.
The menu is simple and full of mouth-watering dishes. Unfortunately I was still very full from lunch, so I ordered from the small plates section and picked the braised octopus salad.
Braised octopus salad.
I love octopus salad. Olympia Provision’s PNW take was made up of soft and slightly chewy octopus and a flavourful oily vinaigrette. Totally enjoyable, though I wasn’t really in the mood for more of that oily sensation in my belly. There’s a Chinese word for what I want to describe but no English translation, but hopefully you get a sense of what I’m feeling.
Braised short ribs with lardons, olives, and fingerling potatoes.
Ivan ordered the braised short ribs. This picture doesn’t do it justice but like Fred’s fish, it was perfectly buttery and soft. So good. I was full, but secretly I acknowledged to myself that I could have eaten the entire thing if Ivan decided he didn’t want it and ordered something else. I could do the same with Fred’s dish, too. I’m a sucker for short ribs and white fish.
After our mains, we perused the desserts menu. Everything sounded good. Fred and Ivan settled on tirimasu ice creams, and I went for the lemon tart.
Strong coffee flavours, great mix of textures.
Lemon tart with cassis coulis. I consider lemon tarts to be pretty safe bets when I go out for dessert; OPSE is not exception here.
Our receipts came clipped to very cool pig prints.
Olympia Provisions SE is ultimately a great date spot. The three of us were fine having a normal dinner there, but it really is quite expensive (especially after USD-CAD conversion. That short rib dish was $32USD!). If you’re going, maybe save it for a special occasion like Valentine’s Day or an anniversary. Or wait until the Canadian Dollar rebounds. Or go anytime, anyday because you’re rolling in money and what’s $50 for dinner? *Cue that gif of Lucille from Arrested Development.*
In any case, it’s a good place to get your fix of Pacific Northwest dishes and has an extensive wine list with suggested pairings for dessert. If you decide to stop by, let me know what you think!