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Olea Mezze Grill

Olea sign

Greek is the latest cuisine to be given the assemblage trope.

Olea Mezze Grill is a new fast feeder in Maitland that uses the same conveyor line method as such places as Chipotle, Moe’s and, more recently, Italio. This is the “one from column A, one from column B” sort of process that Chinese restaurants have all but abandoned, but as it’s applied here and at the restaurants named above there are many more choices and decisions to be made, with your decisions carried out by a gaggle of food assemblers behind the sneeze plate glass.

At Olea you must first decide the vessel. You may have a pita, a bowl or a salad. Actually, both the salad is also served in a bowl, but in that case you choose the lettuce: romaine, spring mix or arugula. If the bowl bowl is your choice you decide on either basmati rice or couscous as the platform. If you go with pita, it’s just pita.

Then you choose from the spread column, though technically they’re only spreads if you chose the pita. If you have the bowl bowl or the salad bowl they’re more like plops. You have tzatziki, roasted red pepper hummus, zesty feta (as opposed to unenthusiastic feta, I suppose), eggplant & red pepper (that’s one spread) or spicy harissa.

Keep moving down the line to select your protein. Here you can have spit-roasted gyro, chicken, Greek meatball or falafel, the meatless protein option.

Then there are toppings, and forgive me for not enumerating them here, but they range from olives to tomatoes to a lemon wedge (as a topping?). You may also choose lettuce shreds, which would be an odd topping choice if you started with a salad, just as pita crisps would be wrong inside a pita.

Olea sandwich

On my visit, I chose: pita>tzatziki/harissa>gyro/falafel>tomato/cucumber/Mediterranean bean salad. So I only have myself to blame that the sandwich was overstuffed, though not with gyro or falafel, and soggy. 

I guess I’m just not cut out for the assemblage concept. Call me crazy, but when I visit a restaurant I expect the menu to offer items that have already been carefully and thoughtfully put together as a representation of what the cuisine has to offer. Faced with the Oeas, Italios, and Moe’s of the world, I and most other people I know just try to cram as much as we can into our pitas, as it were. That’s seldom the best thing to do.

Olea Mezze Grill is at 400 S. Orlando Ave., Maitland, in the same strip center as Francesco’s. It is open daily for lunch and dinner. My pita was $6.55 before tax. The phone number, which for some reason is not listed anywhere on its website, is 407-335-4958.

Olea line

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+4 #4 Kelley 2014-03-13 10:25
I've eaten at Olea many times and always had a great experience. I've tried wraps, salads, and bowls with equal delight. All their meat (and falafel) choices are delicious and I enjoy mixing different combinations of toppings for a fresh variety. The staff is welcoming and friendly and the décor is upscale casual. I'm surprised your review didn't talk about the flavors of food or the staff interactions as you normally do. You just questioned how a lemon wedge (which I've never noticed on the topping line) could be a topping. I've gotten fish tacos served with a lime wedge and never questioned how that could be eaten together.
+1 #3 Scott 2014-03-13 10:05
I very much like Olea. I found the food to be great and the staff wonderfully friendly. I also like the concept of building my meal. I enjoy "mixing things up" during each visit and trying different ingredient combinations. Perhaps one should celebrate how places like Olea, Italio, Sushi Eatstation, etc. are bringing variety to casual diners rather carbon copy fast food.
+1 #2 Roger 2014-03-12 13:23
Perhaps they should have just called it υπόγεια διάβαση ... Greek for Subway.
+1 #1 Erin 2014-03-12 12:29
I've visited this place twice and liked it, although I made the same mistake you did with the pita the first time. Why are my eyes always bigger than my stomach? Anyway, I had a salad the second time and was more strict with myself about the number of items. Much better that way!
Wednesday, 23rd July 2014

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