It’s All Greek: Black Olive Greek Cuisine
910 Haddonfield-Berlin Road
With summer having come to a close, an escape to somewhere warm and exotic has steadily been on my mind. And while a getaway itself may not be in the immediate future, the food coming out of Black Olive in Voorhees seemed like a fairly suitable substitute. With an all-Greek selection, featuring plenty of dishes you can’t find on a typical menu, this was a BYOB that seemed like it could really serve as that escape I was looking for.
Opened last December, the new, fresh interior seems straight out of a Mediterranean kitchen. White walls and plenty of windows are broken up with natural wood chairs and tables, all topped with brown paper that adds to the rustic touch. An open kitchen is blocked off just slightly by a row of booths, but you can still catch a glimpse or two of chefs at work.
A sprawling selection of appetizers really highlighted many of the authenticities of Greek cuisine I’ve come to appreciate. There were many dishes, but each one was simple and clean, with an emphasis on fresh ingredients and traditional preparation.
Like the tirokafteri, a classic cheese spread which blends feta with spicy peppers, oregano and lots of garlic. It was a creamy blend made better when paired with warmed pita for dipping. The tiropita starter was a spiral of flaky phyllo dough, filled with feta cheese and baked until crispy on the outside. While the feta itself had a nice hit of pepper, the combination of phyllo and feta wasn’t my favorite flavor duo, and would have benefitted from some sort of sauce.
The grill played a big part in many of the meatier appetizers, like pork souvlaki, which was also available in a chicken variety. Two skewers of marinated chopped pork were grilled and served simply with just a few slices of fresh lemon. The juicy, tender pork needed little else, and the light squeeze of lemon was a delicate-but-bright touch to the herbaceous, salty pork pieces.
Roasted leg of lamb, served with boiled potatoes and seasonal vegetables, was more like a stew, served up in a tomato sauce and cooked until it was falling apart with each forkful. I was looking forward to an actual roasted leg of lamb, something that would really highlight the slightly gamey meat on its own, and the plate I received certainly didn’t match the menu’s description. But the plate as a whole, when combined with the soft potatoes and roasted green beans, was delightfully cohesive and a great dish to match the changing weather of the season.
And while the jumbo shrimp in the entrée of shrimp tourkolimano were painfully overcooked, the accompanying sauce of white wine, ouzo, fresh diced tomatoes, garlic and Kalamata olives was borderline addictive. The garlic was strong but not overpowering, and the acidity from the wine and tomatoes balanced out the bitter olives nicely. It came topped with crumbled feta, a nice creamy addition.
The night ended with a selection of traditional Greek desserts, including options like strained yogurt and, of course, baklava. Layers of phyllo dough were soaked in honey and stacked with a blend of pistachio nuts, cinnamon and nutmeg. The flavors were earthy and rich and a satisfying but not too sweet end to the meal, but the phyllo was too chewy and hard to eat, possibly because it had sat with the honey for too long.
While some dishes could have used a more gentle touch in terms of seasoning and preparation, the entire meal itself was a fun way to experience the flavors of Greece—without the hassle of standing in the TSA line at the airport.
Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Magazine, Volume 11, Issue 7 (October, 2014).
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