- Ted Scheffler
Salt Lake City's iconic Trolley Square has had its ups and downs. And, just when it seemed to be at its lowest ebb, Whole Foods came to the rescue with a big new store and accompanying shoppers and diners. The place seems revitalized these days, and the recent opening of We Olive & Wine Bar is the latest evidence of a Trolley Square upswing.
The name is odd, right? It's a mystery to me how the "We" came to be; at press time, a corporate representative hadn't replied to a query about the etymology. But what I do know is that We Olive is a company originally founded in California that specializes in locally sourced (Californian, that is) extra virgin olive oils and aged balsamic vinegars. Some of the locations offer a wine bar experience in tandem with oil tastings—a tantalizing combo.
The SLC location is really three things in one: a store selling myriad types of flavored oils and vinegars, a wine bar and a café/bistro. You might drop in to buy one or more of their vast of olive oil selections, belly up to the bar for a glass of wine, enjoy a panini or all three.
Salt Lake City's We Olive is a family affair—the business of brothers Josh and Nate Garcia, and their mother, Stephanie Ennis Garcia. Stephanie, a BYU graduate, discovered the restaurant in La Jolla, Calif., and decided to open a branch here with her attorney son Nate and chef Josh, the latter of whom did a long stint cooking with the Gastronomy Inc. restaurant group. Stephanie designed the airy, inviting space.
You might not be aware of how creative artisan olive oil producers can get until you step into a place like this. Here, you'll find oils infused with jalapeño, basil, blood orange, Meyer lemon, garlic, chipotle and more, plus an array of high-end EVOO (extra virgin olive oil), including some that are smoked. As for vinegars, in addition to straightforward balsamics—including white varieties—you'll find flavors like sangria, roasted pepper and blackberry, D'Anjou pear, chile ancho, peach, pineapple, mulled spice and strawberry. Clear some room in your kitchen pantry before you go shopping here.
The food menu consists of sandwiches and paninis, flatbreads, salads and small-plate offerings such as ricotta with fresh herbs ($10), peppadews stuffed with Genoa salami and goat cheese ($9), prosciutto-wrapped dates ($11) and the like. Upon being seated, you'll be presented with gratis sliced baguette-style bread, balsamic vinegar and olive oils for dipping.
There are 28 wines to select from—an equal number of reds and whites—most offered by the taste (1 ounce), glass (5 ounces) or bottle (750 milliliter). Tasters range from $1.50 for Tangent sauvignon blanc to $4 for Lucienne Lone Oak Vineyard pinot noir. Bottle prices run from $25 for Wine By Joe Rosé to $89 for the aforementioned Lucienne.
Service at We Olive & Wine Bar is professional and friendly and even stopping in for just a charcuterie or cheese plate and a sip of vino feels like a mini-getaway. My favorite pairing—a virtual slam-dunk—is the scrumptious and addictive pairing of fromage flatbread ($10) with Gruet Méthode Champenoise sparkling brut rosé. Give it a go. Your taste buds will thank you.
Check their calendar for events such as mimosa brunch, yoga and wine-tasting, winemaker's visits and more.