Jan 10, 2012

A commoner reviews Olympia Steak & Seafood, Blytheville, Ark.

Before I begin my review of this restaurant, I want to say a little about the town of Blytheville, Ark., itself and the experiences I have traditionally had there. 

I have nothing against Blytheville per se, but for some reason bad weather and bad experiences have a way of finding me here.  For example, on my way to New Orleans for wedding #2, our car broke down on the Missouri-Arkansas state line.  We got towed to Blytheville, and our trip was delayed by a day.  And nine times out of 10, or so it seems, I drive through downpours in Blytheville on my way to Memphis (well, maybe it’s the Beale Street Music Festival itself that is cursed with massive rainfall). 

On to our drive back from New Orleans last month (it was the first day of December), and on a clear evening we approached Blytheville eager to find something to eat.  And if you’ve ever driven Interstate 55, and you miss your chance to stop in Memphis, you know there’s a whole lot of nothing between Memphis and Blytheville.  We were trying to avoid the chain restaurants and fast food, and although it wasn’t easy to find it after we saw it on the other side of the interstate, something made us decide to try Olympia.

I’ve read the mixed reviews from websites I trust like Trip Advisor and Urbanspoon, but from the experience I had with a mysterious and exotic Gypsy (I think it was the Greek theme that tempted her), I would definitely go back. 

The service was a little on the slow side, even though the dinner crowd had died down, but we asked our waitress for a few recommendations, and she was spot on.  One of those was the blackened alligator appetizer which was not on the regular menu.  Having been in New Orleans for several days, I was skeptical, but since I didn’t have the opportunity to get alligator while In the Big Easy, we decided to give it a shot. 

It was nothing short of mouthwatering and delicious.  The gator was perfectly seared, still juicy, and smothered in a remoulade sauce that compared well with any I’ve ever had in New Orleans.  Included in the sauce were a few grilled peppers and onions, and the dish was topped with scallions, another nice touch.  I would highly recommend this appetizer, and it would probably be on the regular menu if it were easier to get alligator so far up north (just speculating, of course). 

For our entrée, Gypsy and I both decided to try, again on the waitress’s recommendation, George’s Hawaiian Steak.  Really, at a Greek steakhouse?  Well, one bite and I was instantly happy with my selection.  The steak is a well-portioned rib-eye marinated in soy sauce, pineapple juice, garlic and honey, and it’s grilled on a open flame.  The carmelization of all these flavors on the steak made it taste quite memorable.  And as Gypsy discovered, it can be a little messy. 

She had the seasoned steamed vegetables for a side; I went classic steakhouse choice with a gigantic baked potato.  They were a little frugal with the sour cream, but the glaze from my steak more than made up for it.

In the interest of fairness in this review, I have to admit I enjoyed my steak better than Gypsy did; on the plus side, I had leftovers for lunch the next day.  Who says I’m not a glass half full kind of guy?

So, if you’re ever passing through Blytheville, I would give Olympia a try.  Hopefully all of the service issues posted on other sites are behind them.  But at least I finally have a positive memory of Blytheville to share.

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