A Top Team Makes Oliver a Top Choice

Every aspect of Oliver represents the top talents in the field of design, business management, and innovative cuisine. The combined culinary talents of Executive Chef James Legge, the restaurant wisdom of Mario Oliver, and the genius of interior designer, Dodd Mitchell, add up to Oliver restaurant. Together the group made the most of a snug situation when creating a restaurant from an original bank vault. The new Sports Club/LA Beverly Hills was a bank building transformed into the new $25 million dollar, 40,000 square foot luxurious fitness complex. And the question of what to do with the bank vault gave birth to this fantastically unique place, with a tropical garden, waterfall, and first-rate menu. The isn't another place in Beverly Hills where you can will find this kind of extensive low-fat, low-carb menu, available from 6:00am until late evening. And without closing off the area, a separate dining counter runs through the glass wall of the restaurant into the fitness center, which is always in sight. Healthy cuisine has never tasted so good!

After entering, I asked where the dining room was, and was told we were in it. This amazing little place is walled with frosted glass windows ion stainless steel frames that provide privacy and intimacy. And the small circular room has a slick high-glossed teak wood bar with saddle stools for 12, along with white leather banquettes and chairs paired to teak slat- tables for 45-diners. If you look towards the ceiling, it would be easy to visualize a ship deck over the likes of their incredible floor, intricately designed in white marble basket weave. At the bar, creative light bulbs i balls of glass hang from above, and a display case of desserts is ever present. Chef Legge previously helmed the kitchens for the internationally acclaimed L'Ermitage Restaurant and La Parc Hotel (both in Beverly Hills) also the Marina City Club in Marina del Rey. He was more than prepared to have menus for every occasion, including invigorating tonic beverages for the mind, body and spirit. One of his blends is "Mighty Joe Yang," a men's classic sex tonic, or "Morning After" for hangovers. Others are for Energy, Vitality, Balance and Longevity; served hot or sparkling cold, with each ingredient identified.

This is not a health food restaurant, but rather a place where anyone can satisfy their diet, or not. In addition, the exceptional menus are in tune with today's dining, presenting "small plates," larger than "tapas," but with prices to make you smile. For those on diets, he's added asterisks on items having 300 to 500 calories, and contain 4-ounces of lean protein; and low-fat mayonnaise.

There are several fabulous menus with terrific tasting foods, starting with "All-Day," featuring enticing salads, such as un-traditional Caesars, Asian shrimp towers, many "wraps" with luscious fillings, and numerous choices, ($7-$13). In addition, you will find an entire pages of sandwiches, offering pepper crusted roast beef, paillard of chicken breast, turkey, tuna melt, ham and gouda, plus tuna; all embellished with additional complements, fresh fruit and salad, plus a choice of breads, or baguettes. Other select sandwiches are panini's, (Italian style) $8-$12.

We chose our dinner from "Evening Bites," priced from $3.75 for soup, to $10 for tequila-lime cured Norwegian salmon, served with potato-chive pancakes, salad, and low fat wasabi crème fraiche. Our other choices for less money were steamed shrimp dumplings, Chinese style, a'la ginger soy sauce; rock crab cakes; filo wrapped herbal goat cheese; and ceviche seafood of shrimp, scallop, fresh fish, onion, tomato, lemon, bell pepper, fresh mango and cilantro. It couldn't get any better.

Another menu page, priced from $8-$14 brought to light entrees of carpaccio filet mignon; mozzarella balls; flamed Cognac shrimp, hickory smoked salmon, and among others, a charcuterie plate.

Some special breakfasts, mostly under $10, feature Atkins Power, Japanese California, Beverly Hills, French, and the Sports Club/LA Breakfast. Stop by for a menu and you will be hooked – try the low-carbohydrate bagels, this place is hot!

by Shirley Firestone
Restaurant Scene – Park Labrea News/Beverly Press
Restaurant Guide – Entertainment Today – July 2004