The Twisted Olive

The Twisted Olive

By Cathy Kiley

It is always exciting to visit a new restaurant and have your high expectations met. Such was the case when I dined at The Twisted Olive in Bethlehem.

Chef/Owner Steve Kershner brings his self-taught talents and many years of respected experience in the Lehigh Valley to The Twisted Olive. He and his attentive staff have attracted a strong following in just a few months and it is easy to see why.

You immediately feel comfortable when you enter here. The restaurant has an attractive, intimate bar setting that was full when we visited on a Tuesday evening. The bar and dining areas have been completely renovated and improved from the prior tenant. They opened up the wall at the front of the room and incorporated interesting millwork into the decor. A lovely wine rack and geometric room divider accent the ambiance of the dining room containing sleek, well-spaced maple tables and flowing curtains on the huge windows. Floor-to-ceiling bolstered embroidered wall hangings decorate the walls as do cute beaded lamps that emit soft lighting. These combine to give a sleek, clean feel to the room. I like it. It presents a tastefully casual atmosphere that is perfect for a date night, an evening with friends or your next business meeting.

I dined with a friend, Charlene, whom I hadn’t seen in many years and our terrific server Gerri arrived at our table with menus. I ordered a glass of Garnet Pinot Noir and Charlene a special Ginger Flower martini to sip while we decided what to order.

The appetizer menu is very interesting and includes Seared Prosciutto Wrapped Tuna served with Limoncello, shallots, capers, garlic butter, roasted tomato and greens; Grilled Octopus with olive oil, oregano and citrus vinaigrette; Mini-meatballs with sausage marinara and parmesan reggiano and Twisted Olives – Panko Crusted Sausage parmesan stuffed olives with garlic aioli to name a few. Chef Steve explained later that one of his appetizer specialties is the French Onion Soup Dumplings – fresh dumplings holding a rich, concentrated onion soup served with melted Gruyere and skewered garlic croutons. I cannot wait to have them on my next visit.

We had already selected the Braised Short Rib Raviolis with a caramelized onion, Madiera cream sauce to share as our first course. There is only one word for this appetizer – fabulous. With our first bite, we looked at each other and said, “Oh my!” The flavorful short ribs encased in thin pasta were not at all overpowered by the delicate yet rich Madiera sauce. This was a great blend of tastes and a wonderful start to the meal. We asked and, yes, they will serve this as a main course if we wanted.

We next shared their Baby Spinach Salad with roasted prosciutto, craisins, tomato, red onion and fig vinaigrette. I don’t usually rave about salad but this one was particularly good. The very cold spinach was topped with just the right amount of accompaniments.

The fig dressing was delicious but it was the crispy roasted prosciutto that added a salty crunchiness that popped the tastes in my mouth. It was wonderful and the perfect size for sharing.

There is only one word for this appetizer – fabulous. With our first bite, we looked at each other and said, “Oh my!”

Also on the menu is a unique Greek-Italian Chopped Salad with romaine, garbanzo beans, red bell pepper, fennel tomato red onion, Genoa salami, fresh feta, olives, oregano and white balsamic vinaigrette. Truly a meal in itself! A Baby Greens Salad with tomato, candied walnuts, craisins, feta and balsamic Vinaigrette as well as a Traditional Caesar round out the salad choices. Crab Bisque, French Onion or their  soup du jour would surely satisfy anyone in the mood for a light meal on a cold evening.

Charlene chose Potato Crusted Scallops with a Roasted Tomato Sauce and Saffron Aioli as her entree. This meal was delicious. The crusty potatoes topped the fresh perfectly cooked sea scallops that were nestled in a light roasted tomato sauce. The scallops were then drizzled with the aioli. Again, the tastes on this plate blended perfectly together. I simply had to order the Steak-on-a- Stone – a beautiful filet mignon served at the table sizzling atop a 650-degree granite slab. This was not only a very tasty but fun experience. I let the steak cook about a minute on each side. After about two minutes, I transferred the steak to a side plate and cut off smaller pieces and replaced them on the stone and allowed them to sizzle a bit more. The meat was then dipped in two accompanying sauces – Porcini mushroom and blue cheese. I had witnessed other diners enjoying this meal but this is the first time I ever tried it. A little bit of work – but it was worth the experience! Both entrees were served with sides of garlic mashed potatoes and broccoli rabe.

Other menu choices include Cioppino – a tomato-fennel broth with swordfish, mussels, clams, scallops and shrimp; Bacon Wrapped Pork Mignon with a chili-maple glaze, bok choy, and avocado vegetable spring roll; Braised Lamb Shank in a rosemary red wine sauce and mushroom risotto as well as Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes with lemon aioli and remoulade. Roasted chicken, Ahi Tuna, Seared Salmon and Skirt Steak entrees in addition to interesting pasta choices were on the menu when we visited.

Gerri recited the dessert choices and explained that they, as well as everything at The Twisted Olive (except for the bread) is made in-house. The night’s desserts included: Toasted Coconut Amaretto Cream Pie (which I understand has a lot of Amaretto); Creme brulee; Vanilla Cheesecake; Bread Pudding; Chocolate/Cayenne Gelato and Molten Lava Cake. These were in addition to the Chocolate Mocha Cake which we chose. Chef Steve explained that he learned this recipe while participating in courses with with Ann Willan and Julia Child at Ecole de Cuisine La Verenne at The Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia. The rich, decadent cake has a pecan crust with a fudge layer, a mocha layer, mocha whipped topping and shaved chocolate. It was fabulous and along with cappuccino finished off a very
fine meal.

Chef Steve’s love of cooking comes from his father who was also a chef in the Lehigh Valley. He has sharpened his culinary skills and honed his wonderful reputation over the years with his continuing travels throughout Europe and in some notable Lehigh Valley kitchens. He devotes himself to giving his clientele a unique dining experience using only the freshest ingredients (many of which he grows with the help of his wife in his home gardens), his continuing creativity and attention to details. This is extremely evident in what he has done at Twisted Olive. He has developed a strong, diverse menu of interesting dishes that are served in a very pleasant, totally non-pretentious atmosphere. Our server Gerri was professional yet friendly as were all the staff that we talked with that evening. It was in all a totally enjoyable dining experience. And, yes I will be going back soon to try one of their pizzas – the prosciutto, arugula, parmesan reggiano, white truffle oil and egg. Chef says it’s the imported flour he uses in his crust that makes his pizzas so good.
I will see!

The Twisted Olive is conveniently located at 51 West Broad Street in Bethlehem. The hours of operation are Tuesday through Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. The lunch menu includes the same soup and many of the same salad, pizza and pasta selections as the dinner menu in addition to unique sandwich specialties, a complete listing of which is available on their website at: Call 610.419.1200 for reservations.

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