Editors' pick

Black Olive

$$$$ ($25-$34)

Editorial Review

2011 Spring Dining Guide

By Tom Sietsema
Sunday, May 15, 2011

"Want to take a look at the fish?"

Just as when I visited my favorite fishing hole in Baltimore for the first time, dinner begins with a question from my young server. And just like back then, I leap at the chance to see the iced display near the kitchen.

Tonight, there is whole Dover sole, turbot, dorado ("a relative of snapper") and sea bass "that's sweet because it feeds on shrimp," our able guide explains. Later, she will deftly fillet my choice table-side and serve it with a sauce of lemon juice, herbs and olive oil. .

Each of the four low-ceilinged dining rooms has its charms. One up front in white brick peeks into the kitchen; another in back looks onto the taverna's patio. Wherever you land, there are olives to nibble on, a wine list that demands your attention and hearty portions of solid Greek cooking.

Whipped fish roe is equal parts cloud and sea. Sardines bundled in grape leaves are meaty. Invariably, I find room for one of the house specialties, perhaps a slab of warm bread pudding veined with feta cheese, artichokes, mushrooms and more.

You don't have to eat fish to enjoy the restaurant. Proof: Tender, well-seasoned rack of lamb, fragrant from its time on the charcoal grill. (A combination platter fits in sweetly fresh shrimp.) Less enticing are chunks of lamb and Greek cheese revealed in a paper pouch.

Skip the dry carrot cake. My favorite way to close a meal involves baklava and ice cream - together, in a scoop of baklava ice cream. The dessert was created by executive chef Pauline Spiliadis as a way to salvage the good bits from a batch of burnt baklava.

Too much ouzo? Staying over? Last year, the family that owns this restaurant expanded into the hotel business, with a green inn (and meat-focused eatery, the Olive Room) just around the corner.