After visiting “The Gray Olive” for the first time during a “Vancouver Foodster Tasting Plates” tour in the Burnaby Heights area, I knew to come back when my partner wanted some all day breakfast near our home. We wondered in at 2:30pm, and being the only ones to dine in at the time, had the pick of the place.
You order at the counter, after deciding what it is that you want, from the menu that covers the wall to your left. Weekday breakfast and lunch options are available all day, with some specific brunch specials only available on weekends and during holidays. We came in wanting breakfast, but ended up ordering sandwiches off their weekday lunch menu instead.
Their burgers and sandwiches don’t come with sides so my partner got their “G.O.” potatoes in a smaller serving, to accompany his “chicken bacon club”. This was a traditional club made with quality ingredients. Tender white meat chicken breast, thick cuts of bacon with a crispy caramelized coating, crisp lettuce, and a juicy tomato slice. But in place of a classic mayonnaise spread, they had a roasted garlic aioli. I didn’t really notice it, and found myself missing the tang mayo would have brought to the brioche bun instead. Overall, it was deliciously light with all its freshness. Good, but the breakfast potatoes out shone the sandwich given how good they were and how much more flavour they had in each cube. Each had the perfect crispy texture to them, a thick battered shell hiding a nice soften centre.
I went for their “roast chicken” sandwich, pairing it with a cup size of their “tomato bisque” soup. The soup was one of two soup specials for the day, I made it my side at an additional cost. Pulled chicken, pea shoots, pickled red onion, harvarti cheese, black pepper aioli, crackling, and gravy. It was like a chicken dinner between a toasted baguette, with some of the best tasting chicken I have ever had (and here I thought the sandwich above was impressive). You could taste the quality in everything from the first bite. The toppings added texture with the crunchy crackling and freshness with the green shoots. The red onions offered some tang, but I wanted more for my appetite. Maybe some sweet pickles on the side or a sharp mustard for contrast. I liked the idea of the gravy as a dip, but it only made an already rich sandwich denser. Instead we used it as a dip for the potatoes above, replacing the typical ketchup pairing. It was a light gravy, thick and slightly peppery. It did not mask or overwhelm anything it coated.
As for the soup, it made a great warming start. It had a nice and thick, only slightly lumpy consistency to it. Although I wished it more creamy, where the first sip reminded us of pasta sauce given the spices used.
The restaurant well reflected the food. It’s decor matched in how it was modern and trendy. Light Hearted and simple, you had everything you need and no extra flash. The space was brightly lit, with bleached wood and white furniture, it almost felt like a warm spring day within. Warmth from easy listening music and the that sprouted by the door and above the counter.
My only critique would be how they call themselves a cafeteria, but their food quality and prices are far from a mass assembly of food left to keep warm under a heat lamp. Given that we paid for it, the leisurely meal we enjoyed above, would be nicer as part of a full sit down service. To not order and have to pay before you eat, but to have your order taken at your table. Although they do deliver your meal to you on a metal tray, and bus it all away after; and you also get check-ins as your meal progressed.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
This, hands down was one of the most freshest meals I have ever had, and one of the healthiest servings I have ever enjoyed. When it all came the portions looked small, but reality was, this was a lot of food and we couldn’t finish it all. My partner got full fast and was sad because it tasted so good and he couldn’t finish it all. And unfortunately none of it would travel all that well as leftovers packed up to go. Don’t deny your cravings.