You'll Love Olive You
By Karl Klooster
One of the bonus benefits of a burgeoning local wine industry is a copious cuisine scene. And nowhere in the Yamhill Valley can a greater concentration of excellent eateries be found than on Third Street in McMinnville.
The logic of being in such distinguished company wasn't lost on Fred and Marilyn Turner when they decided to augment their Olive You catering business with a restaurant component in January 2009.
Located in the Union Block Building, right next to the popular java joint of the same name, Olive You is open for dinner Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Kitchen hours are 5 to 9 p.m., but diners have been known to linger longer, and with good reason.
The Turners hit all the high notes of a total dining experience - delectable food, attentive, perfectly timed service, attractive decor and a friendly, low-key atmosphere. The most impressive part is that they pull it off entirely by themselves.
Fred is chef de cuisine and kitchen crew all rolled into one. Marilyn is host, waiter, wine steward and bartender.
Wine being integral to fine dining, the couple collaborate on their carefully selected list and recommend entrée pairings.
The combined productivity of their catering and restaurant businesses allows Fred the opportunity to choose from an extensive repertoire of items to create seasonal gourmet menus.
Currently, main courses include whiskey beef with Kentucky bourbon sauce, rack of lamb with herb and red wine sauce, sautéed duck breast with fresh chanterelle sauce, grilled chicken Parmesan, sautéed Carlton pork loin with local Braeburn apples, penne pasta with Pacific crab, Yamhill mushrooms and leeks, and seared sea scallops with fresh orange supremes, napped in a citrus butter sauce.
To fully appreciate the preparation and accompanying sides with each entrée, you can peruse the complete menu on their website, at www.oliveyou.biz.
Speaking of biz, Fred may be all about it behind his stove, but he often emerges later in the evening to chat with diners.
Both he and Marilyn obviously enjoy interacting with customers and thanking them for their patronage.
Though patrons from throughout the region come to partake of Fred's culinary talents and Marilyn's ability to make them feel welcome, the couple take particular pleasure in seating local area people at their tables.
For them it's about building a closer connection with the community they now call home. In that regard, they have made it a particular point to emphasize environmentally sensitive Oregon sources of both food and beverages.
Freshness and first-hand knowledge of what they're getting is, of course, an essential element of that philosophy, but it is also tied to supporting homegrown businesses. It has led them to adopt, "Think Sustainably. Live Locally," as their motto.
Key suppliers include McMinnville Farmers Market, Carlton Farms meats, Tillamook Cheese, Zenner's Sausage and Pacific Seafood. Of the 20 wines on their list, 13 are from Oregon. Their beers are from Fire Mountain Brew House near Carlton.
With a name like Olive You, martinis would seem a natural fit. And, the Turners have taken full advantage of it.
Six months before they started the restaurant, they began opening their doors to the public from 6 to 10 p.m. Tuesdays.
Calling their once-a-week event "Martini Tuesdays," the couple concocted exotic vodka martinis featuring Crater Lake Vodka and offered a selection of small plates, priced at $9 each, to accompany them.
And what a delectable selection it was. From baby back ribs to grilled chicken, jumbo sea scallops to homemade pâté, Manchego cheese with Kalamata olives to Portabella risotto cake.
The concept served to introduce mostly local folks to the quality and diversity of Olive You's offerings.
Its success encouraged them to take the next step. Since then, they have worked to build a regular clientele that knows the three days they're open and plans accordingly.
My wife and I recently spent a Saturday evening ensconced at a cozy table, soaking in the relaxed, art-enhanced atmosphere, looking forward to the arrival of each beautifully presented dish and sharing everything we ordered.
Though every item on the menu was tempting, we finally decided on sesame-encrusted, seared ahi tuna with wasabi mayo and ponzu sauce, followed by grilled romaine salad with Arcane Vineyards olive oil and Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Our entrées were lamb rack chops with herb and red wine sauce served with a potato, carrot and parsnip purée and sautéed greens and sautéed duck breast with fresh chanterelle mushroom sauce, organic wild rice pilaf and sautéed greens.
The accompanying wines - served in chic stemless ware - were 2007 Coelho Pinot Gris and 2007 Bella Vida Pinot Noir.
Allowing ourselves the indulgence of dessert - after all, this was a night out - we finished with a chocolate crème brûlée, complemented by candied hazelnuts.
Note the low-fat cooking techniques and numerous local ingredients. Preparation, presentation, flavor complements - all scored near the top on our not onerously exacting but still high expectation scale. The duck, a personal favorite, was among the most tender and succulent I have ever had.
Fred and Marilyn Turner's credentials are exceptional. Both experienced chefs, they've spent 14 years in the catering business, most recently as owners of Custom Catering in Los Angeles.
Fred is a graduate of Forest Park Culinary in St. Louis, having trained in the school's Cordon Bleu and restaurant management programs. Marilyn earned a degree in food service management at Michigan State University.
It is our good fortune that they decided to bring their considerable skills to the Yamhill Valley. Once you've experienced their talents, we're sure you will agree.
Address: 411 N.E. Third St., McMinnville
Hours: Thurs.-Sat., 5 p.m. (closing varies)