The Meh Files – The Gray Olive Cafeteria

So much potential
Makes disappointment greater
At the Gray Olive
Do you have a friend or family member that has so much potential but for whatever reason can’t get their crap together to unleash their talent?  It’s so frustrating and maddening sometimes – I assume this is what parents’ disappointment must feel like from mom and dad’s point of view.
The new Gray Olive Cafeteria has all the ingredients and good intentions but it’s not coalescing into something wonderful.  My visits have ranged from good, bad and less bad.  Perhaps it was my first visit, which yielded a positive experience, created too much expectation and hope that North Burnaby would get a more refined breakfast/brunch place.

The Kitchen Sink was a solid breakfast item.  In fact it’s something I make at home on the weekends when I have the time.
Well poached egg, gooey cheese, a hearty portion of potatoes, savoury sausage and sautéed aromatic peppers and onion, this item was very comforting.
My only minor complaint was it was a touch on the heavy side.  A sour or spicy element would have been a welcomed addition to help break up the savouriness.
The Pork Belly Sandwich and side salad was not a good lunch.  The description on the menu didn’t adequately describe what I received.  Not sure if my bread was really a baguette, it was missing the crusty crunch and my tomato was a plain slice not the fancy chili marinated version.


All the key elements for a great sandwich were there; tender slices of fatty pork belly, pickled carrots to alleviate the greasiness of the pork, and a savoury sweet sauce.  Unfortunately, there was no restraint shown on the use of the mayo concoction.  It made for a messy eat but even worse it drowned out the flavour of all the other components of the sandwich, including the tart pickles.


The side salad suffered a similar fate, the vinaigrette was too strong for the greens.
At this point I was wondering which experience was the true Gray Olive.  Undaunted I went for brunch on the weekend and it was packed with eager diners.  I had to grab my Chicken & Waffles to go.  With that said, I was willing to give this dish more latitude since it was steaming in its take out container as I walked home.


Surprisingly the chicken was still crunchy but it was bordering on dry and not seasoned.  The waffle had a nice lemony flavour to it.  To complete the ensemble, the dish comes with maple syrup and spicy Korean ketchup.
The fusion tomato mash-up tasted like a slightly fiery kimchi tomato.  On its own, it was pretty good and would have been a perfect partner for some nice potatoes.  However paired with chicken and citrusy waffles, the ketchup was out of place.


I finished my brunch by drenching everything with maple syrup which made this brunch item plainly sweet.  I’m actually curious why gravy was not provided with this item.  Gravy is in the restaurant, albeit only given with the Roast Chicken sandwich.
I understand all chefs have the license to present dishes as they see fit.  If you don’t get what the chef is dishing up, then one can move along to another eatery which I will be doing.  I rather spend less money for a better composed and executed Chicken and Waffles at Yolks.  For the type of refinement Gray Olive is trying to achieve, I rather have it actualized at Burdock & Co.
However with that said, there are redeeming things at the Gray Olive.  With a few tweaks and better attention to details, this new daytime eatery can still morph into a solid dining spot.
The Gray Olive Cafeteria
4190 Hastings St
Burnaby, BC V5C 2J4
Telephone: 604 566 9664

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