Olive Tree combo plate
Olive Tree combo plate

Olive trees grow slowly, but they live forever. All over the Mediterranean, you find groves of olive trees: in Spain, in southern Italy, in Greece, in Turkey. In the province of Apulia, the heel of the Italian boot, there are more olive trees than people. There are periodic olive oil scandals, too: tankers filled with cheap oil from dubious sources are offloaded in Italian ports and labeled “processed in Italy” or “bottled in Italy.” Beware!

There’s an excellent restaurant in Greenwood called Olive and Grape. Since 2009, there’s been a spot called Olive Tree in Kent. And now there’s a second Olive Tree at 340 15th Ave. E. on Capitol Hill. It takes over the ambitious space occupied by Sur 16, which itself had taken over from the Bagel Deli.

The proprietors are Zana Abdulaziz and his brother-in-law Ranj Rebwar, and they’ve done their best to turn the sprawling space into an intimate one. In any event, the dishes are very Mediterranean. A side order of dolmas (stuffed grape leaves) were tender and minty; the house-made baba ganouj full of deep, smokey flavor, and the hummus and tsatziki appetizers perfectly fine. At lunch, the combo plate cost a reasonable $9. We also sampled a non-particularly-impressive “Village” gyro, with fries tucked into the pita.

One thing, though: the Bodhizafa beer on draught —which had a pleasant apricot fruitiness— does not come from India, but from Seattle’s own Georgetown Brewery. Maybe the oh-so-cute but clueless server thought he could get away with it.

Wanderfish

For roughly the same price as the appetizer combo at Olive Tree — 10 bucks or so — you can get a poke bowl at Wanderfish, 1620 Broadway. If you’ve ever gone through the line at a Subway or a Chipotle, you know the drill.

Wanderfish has half a dozen combinations made up ahead of time, if you’re the person who can’t decide what to have, but you’re better off building your own bowl. Choose a base (two kinds of rice, kelp, kale, lettuce), then add the fish. Poke (pronounced “poh-kay”) means “to cut” in Hawaiian. Traditionally it’s made with the cheaper part of a firm fish, like the head or tail, diced into thick cubes. In the islands, it was often ahi (tuna) or tombo (Hawaiian albacore). At Wanderfish, you can also get farmed Canadian salmon, scallops, or tofu. You decide on the dressing (ponzu, aioli, sweet chili, etc.) as well as “mix-ins” like corn, onions, cucumber. After the person behind the counter mixes it all up, you add four toppings (krab salad, bean sprouts, pickled ginger; avocado and salmon roe are a buck extra). The space is quite pleasant with, table, booth,and counter seating; or they’ll snap a lid on the bowl and you can walk out the door. The Canadian salmon, by the way, is sustainably farmed in the icy waters of British Columbia; it’s a far cry from the to-be-avoided Atlantic salmon from horrible fish farms off the coast of Norway.