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NOW CLOSED

Mount Olive

I entered Mount Olive last week craving Mediterranean flavours. Two hours later, I left with a satisfied palate, distended belly and wide smile. Courtesy of Mount Olive's sumptuous and ridiculously affordable buffet (lunches and dinners are $8.99 Monday-Friday, $10.99 on weekends), my enlarged belly will likely shrink back to its pre-dinner state, but the wide smile returns every time I think about its charming and lively staff, whose attention and goodwill made my dinner a delight.

Among the gems in the buffet: fried eggplant, soft and savoury, dripping in olive oil; grilled chicken, lightly marinated and meaty with flavour; tomato-rich beef goulash; and perfectly marinated beets. Now, when it comes to beets, I know what I'm talking about. To put it indelicately, I eat beets so often my effluence is permanently released in various shades of magenta. If ever I were to suffer from internal bleeding, I would likely miss the obvious signs, but I'm okay with that, because if anyone knows how to identify good beets, it's me. And these are some tasty beets. Graced with the merest hint of vinegar, Mount Olive's roots are garnished with just enough pepper to add a robust flavour to the natural depth of the perfectly cooked vegetables.

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Other highlights of my meal included a generous selection of fresh vegetables, warm, chewy home-baked pitas, smooth hummus, creamy baba ghanoush and a romantically available chef. That's right, a romantically available chef. When I pulled out my camera and asked to take some shots of the buffet, my server gleefully ran to the kitchen to grab the chef and request I get his picture on the internet, because this man needs a girlfriend!

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Now, I happen to be dating the world's most adorable man, a cutie pie whose only major downfall is his awesome propensity for food (a welcome attribute when I overload my plate and need help hoovering the remains) But if, in my single days, I had known about a restaurant where an available guy with verifiable cooking skills worked, I would've definitely checked it out. I only hope this chef likes distended bellies and olive breath, because with flavours like these, patrons, romantically inclined or not, are bound to gobble more than they should.

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I may be off the love market, but I'll never stop loving Mediterranean flavours, and will gladly return to scale Mount Olive's buffet again.


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