Let’s face it, every significant event in our lives is celebrated with food or drink of some kind, from birthdays, weddings, graduations and anniversaries to promotions at work, family reunions, and so on. The shared celebration paired with a special meal transcends cultures and generations.
When I had the opportunity to sit down with the most important women in my life, my Mom, my Aunt Margie, and my cousin-food mentor Anita, the occasion had to include two things: fine food and good martinis. My Aunt Margie treated us to lunch last week at Third and Olive Restaurant in Burbank. It was the perfect venue for a lunch among three generations of women.
Third and Olive has a rich, sophisticated interior. Located in a modern office building across from Burbank’s City Hall, the setting inside this restaurant is a mix of rich mocha and chocolate tones, and dark leather against crisp white linens, fine china and sparkling stemware. There is a full bar against one wall that brings a sense of refinement to any cocktail hour.
Executive Chef Miki Zivkovic has a lot more room for patrons at this, his second, fine restaurant in Burbank. His impressive resume includes the Patina Group where he was executive chef at Pinot Bistro in Studio City and more recently, and closer to home, as executive chef and owner of Bistro Provence in Burbank.
At Third and Olive Restaurant, Chef Zivkovic has not only perfected his menu for his latest venue, but has opened the doors to a fine, upscale culinary experience at modest prices much needed in Downtown Burbank.
Our group found Third and Olive quiet on a weekday afternoon. Although the luncheon entree menu is limited to about a dozen choices, the selections were so varied that anyone from a meat-lover to the vegetarian in any group should find something to their taste. Each of the women I lunched with certainly has their own ideas about food, but still found themselves torn between two or three choices.
My Mom, who has decided that her new goal is to be more open about trying to new foods, decided to be conservative this particular day and ordered the roasted chicken salad with mixed greens and a balsamic vinaigrette. She loved it. There were four large pieces of tender chicken with a crispy coating and plenty of greens with just the right amount dressing.
Aunt Margie, who is definitely the expert on local cuisine, enjoyed the beef bourguignon with mushrooms, horseradish mashed potatoes and braising jus, but thought it should have been served on a plate rather than an oversized bowl that appeared to make the dish look more awkward than appetizing.
Anita liked the tenderness and flavor of the braised lamb shank over garlic mashed potatoes, haricot vert (green string beans) and rosemary jus. She was not impressed with the presentation of the lamb shank which resembled a turkey leg. I had the herb-crusted bass served with oven-dried tomatoes, zucchini and braised fennel. The bass was cooked to perfection with a savory pesto sauce.
The lunch and dinner menus at Third and Olive are quite impressive considering the moderate prices for such a sophisticated menu. There are some minor drawbacks. Parking can be inconvenient and confusing considering there are no signs telling you where to park for the restaurant. In fact, the restaurant itself can be tough to find.
Finally, our diet sodas were served in a glass with the can. I do not serve canned drinks at any dinners at my house unless it is a barbecue outside, so I really do not expect to be handed a can at a restaurant — especially one with linens and china. And I expect free refills when it is simply soda pop.
On another evening, a dinner companion and I enjoyed a quiet meal starting with a delicious fennel-crusted Ahi tuna with olive tapenade and Nicoise salad. I loved the grilled duck breast with parsnip pear moussoline, escarole and blackberry sauce while my friend thought that the pan-roasted halibut with gnocchi and sweet corn was tender and full of flavor. He was really impressed with the wine list and with some suggestions from the waiter picked the perfect wines for our meal.
Third and Olive has the perfect setting and fine cuisine to make any occasion memorable.
CHRISTINE PUTNAM is a freelance writer. Her first book, “But the President Wants Meatloaf!” will be available in June. For more information, go to www.christineputnam.com.