"The reason I wanted to open Olive & Finch is because I was always trying to find a place where I can have a really quick meal, that was casual, inexpensive, but still healthy and fresh and flavorful," says Mary Nguyen, chef and owner at the Uptown café. "I wanted to create a space that is easy for people to come to three or four times a day - coffee in the morning, a snack later on, a sandwich at lunch, and maybe something to pick up for dinner in the afternoon to cook at home," she adds.
That vision became reality on Friday morning when Nguyen, who also owns Parallel Seventeen and Street Kitchen, opened the doors to Olive & Finch. The non-pretentious eatery, set in a farmhouse chic décor, is reminiscent of a European café where each detail from the napkins to the coffee, the pastries to juices, matters.
By the entrance, guests will find a small retail section that includes a variety of local products- think Real Dill pickles and Colorado grains, quinoa included - as well as favorites of the chef from all over the country and world. There are cloth napkins and tea towels custom made by a local seamstress and a great selection of high quality French soaps. Custom gift baskets are on option and even the giant metal letters displayed are for sale.
The display case that greets customers at the door holds an ever-changing selection of freshly prepared salads and more. An imposing Strada espresso maker, the Lamborghini of espresso makers, is used to craft a variety of coffee drinks with beans from local roaster Corvus Coffee. There are pastries, hot breakfast items, sandwiches, soups and salads to be had throughout the day and if you must not miss one thing, it is the Greggers, a braised beef tongue sandwich that will convert even the most stubborn anti-tongue militant to loving the unique taste and flavor of this meat. Throughout each menu item, the food feels rustic and comforting, but also clean and bright and fresh.
Olive & Finch has a strong juicing program, but Nguyen's take on it is unique. "I have been juicing for many years and I feel like juicing is a fad now. What I wanted to do with the juice program is to show people what the health benefits of juicing are, show them all the things that fruits and vegetables that are fresh and organic will do," she says. To accomplish that, she created a chart on the menu that explains what each of the ingredients does for the body's well being.
"I am very committed to being conscious of what we put in our bodies and how we treat our environment," Nguyen explains. "Everything we have here from the cloth napkins to the juicing program tries to take that into account. We are trying to be environmentally conscious in every way we can from using reclaimed wood and metal work in our interior to the cloth napkins in our dining room."
The space is small at Olive & Finch but it is comfortable and it feels sweet. A bar height community table made of sassafras is set towards the front of the space and a variety of smaller tables line the walls, one of which is clad in a large five panel mirror that Nguyen brought back from France. All of the custom furniture in the space was built by Ben Dagitz, a local furniture fabricator.
There is wireless internet for those who want to stay, a strong to-go and catering component, and even a curbside pick-up option - with reserved parking spots in front of the eatery- for those on the run. Olive & Finch is open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.