Family owned and operated since July of 2004, Purple Olive is an eclectic culinary mainstay featuring fresh-baked artisan breads, homemade soups, signature salad dressings and nightly dinner specials.
With Chef Peter Kenney at the helm along with his wife, Deidre, Purple Olive offers up everything from grilled stuffed eggplant and hearts-of-palm salad to blackened ahi tuna and garlic shrimp pasta. Compass caught up with Chef Kenney — who cut his teeth at St. Augustine restaurants like La Parisienne, Manatee Café and Gypsy Cab Company — to chat about his own creation, Purple Olive.
Q&A WITH OWNER AND CHEF PETER KENNEY
How would you describe the restaurant’s atmosphere?
Peter Kenney: Casual, warm and eclectic with warm hues of yellow and orange. We have 55 seats with seating for a private party of up to 25 guests.
What is your food philosophy?
P.K.: To present food that is whole and not processed or chemically altered. To be purposely rustic, so it is apparent that the food is handmade like not peeling potatoes for the mashed [potatoes], leaving bones in meat for presentation and coarse-cut vegetables.
What type of cuisine do you specialize in?
P. K.: Tuscan Italian, Asian and Floribbean. Tuscan to me is characterized by simplicity and quality ingredients. Most of the dishes will have four to six ingredients, and we use a variety of grains and vegetables on our plating. Asian is mostly Thai and Chinese influence with quick, fresh cooking procedures. Soy, ginger, lemongrass and citrus are used heavily to develop our flavors. Floribbean is the fusion of Latin, South American and Caribbean. It’s usually heavy in garlic, spices, citrus, tropical fruit and vegetables with grilling and slow-roasting as the primary cooking methods.
What is your signature dish?
P.K.: Our sesame scallops, which are sesame crusted and seared scallops finished with a sweet-chili-hot-mustard glaze and served with jasmine rice and wok-seared vegetables.
What would you recommend for a first timer?
P.K.: I recommend trying our specials. The menu is made up of specials we have had that people liked so much we put them on the menu. That being said, we are always trying new ideas and concepts.
Location: 4255 State Road A1A South
Hours: 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Wednesday | 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Contact: 416-1250 | purple-olive.com