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The Optimist

Hyesoon and I visited The Optimist on Howell Mill Road. The location is a little low-key from the street. Inside it is a very large space and surprisingly warm-feeling given the retro-industrial vibe. The bar is very well stocked. The service was very warm and informative.

As you will see, we went a little crazy. We each had two oysters, one from the East Coast and one from the West Coast. The shells are different---the West Coast shells are rougher---but I didn't notice an obvious taste difference between the two. Both were superb: extremely fresh and tasting of the sea. I liked mine with just a little hot sauce.

We also sampled the grilled octopus. It was amazingly tender given that it was grilled. The flavor was subtle, present but not overpowering.

This is Hyesoon's bass. She said the preparation was a little salty but overall very good.

We had hush puppies for our side dish. They came sprinkled with powdered sugar, something I've never seen before (zeppole yes, hush puppies no). The result was slightly dessertish. I would have preferred to have the pure hush puppy flavor but they were quite good.

My salmon was wonderful. The fish was extremely fresh; the flavor was very salmony but not at all fishy. The sauce combined buttery, a little sour, and just a little heat.

We finished with banana pudding: mini marshmallows on top, Graham cracker crust on the bottom. That thing in the middle is a disc of candied sugar used as a garnish. Not as good as my Mom's banana pudding, but still pretty darn good.

The Optimist on Urbanspoon


  1. Boy, does that all look amazing. I'll be making room in my schedule for the Optimist, now. Thanks!


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