I’d never heard of Red Olive restaurant until a few years ago, when I worked with a colleague who was obsessed with ordering takeout from its Auburn Hills location.
Little did I know until recently, this locally-owned chain has 16 locations – 16! – in the Metro-Detroit area. Apparently, I’d been living under a rock, and this place is beloved by many more people than my former coworker.
In fact, I recently learned that one of my very best friends is also a Red Olive regular. Her last meal before her scheduled induction to have her son last fall was its chocolate-chip pancakes. That’s right: Red Olive’s wares helped to fuel a child’s birth! That’s kind of a big deal, especially considering how wonderful this particular kiddo is.
It was becoming more and more obvious that I needed to try this Red Olive place for myself, and last Sunday, I finally did while lunching at the Saint Clair Shores outpost with my aforementioned devotee-friend.
I can’t speak for what décor has been adopted by the 15 other Red Olive locations, but this Saint Clair Shores location, not far from Lake Saint Clair, has embraced the nautical theme. Murals of sailboats afloat on a vibrant blue sea grace the walls. Dark stained wood and deeply-colored booths give the place a more refined look than that of the typical diner.
I was ravenous with hunger and psyched to discover how extensive Red Olive’s menu is. I’d admittedly assumed its offerings would be pretty basic, probably because my former coworker had ordered one meal over and over: a side-salad with ranch, lemon-rice soup, and pita bread – not the most adventurous of cuisines.
In reality, the Red Olive menu is loaded with options; the Wraps section alone was enough to excite me over its selection (there’s a Grilled Fajita Wrap, a Reuben Wrap, a Chicken Shawarma Pita Wrap . . .). An entrée-salad area boasts intriguing varieties such as Strawberry Chicken Avocado Salad, Fattoush Salad, and Chicken Avocado and Mango Salad. There’s a sandwich section; a breakfast section; a section devoted to burgers and Coney dogs. There’s an entrée section containing comfort-food classics such as meatloaf and roast chicken, a whole area devoted to gyros . . . you get the idea. There are a LOT of choices!
I zeroed in on that Chicken Shawarma Pita Wrap, as well as a baby Greek salad. My friend got a breakfast combination plate with eggs and hash browns and the like.
Our food came out quickly. The Greek salad was fresh and filling; the shawarma was wonderfully toasted on the outside and stuffed with filling, tender chicken, crunchy pickles, and delightfully garlicky sauce. YUM!
The food being delicious was the best part of the Red-Olive experience, of course, but our total bill barely topping $20 also didn’t hurt. Now I can see why this place is garnering admirers and sprouting new locations all across Metro-Detroit!
23977 Harper Ave.
St. Clair Shores, MI 48080
(With 15 additional locations in the Metro-Detroit area)