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“Just Okay”
Review of The Old Library

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The Old Library
Ranked #40 of 70 Restaurants in Olean
Cuisines: American
Dining options: Reservations
Restaurant details
Dining options: Reservations
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Level 6 Contributor
181 reviews
152 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 75 helpful votes
“Just Okay”
Reviewed September 27, 2011

We were visiting in Olean and wanted to treat friends to a special meal. The setting is really gorgeous. Three of us had filet--it was perfectly done, but lacking in flavor and the side dishes (especially the loaded baked potatoe) were not very good. Another person had scampi that was delicious. For the price we paid, it was not a good experience.

  • Visited September 2011
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank Jenn L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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23 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    11
    5
    5
    1
    1
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Ringoes, New Jersey
Level 4 Contributor
31 reviews
13 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
“Beautiful Historical Restaurant”
Reviewed August 25, 2011

We were staying in Olean NY for a basketball tournament. Had dinner with 16 people (including several children) at the old library. Atmosphere is lovely and the service was great. Tried a variety of their dishes: steak, seafood, burgers, and a wonderful spinach salad with bacon. All very, very good! If you happen to eat in Olean, NY this place is a must! We were a little under dressed.(some shorts/tee shirts but they didn't seem to mind) Great bar to have an appetizer and cocktail in before your dinner.

  • Visited August 2011
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank EMSSPERR
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Niskayuna, New York
Level 6 Contributor
181 reviews
137 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 1,174 helpful votes
“Pretty darn good!”
Reviewed August 6, 2011

I have been giving my parents gift certificate to this restaurant for years, and on a recent visit to see them, they took me here for dinner. Since I cannot seem to add the restaurant in the listings for Olean restaurants, I am sneaking it in here.

We arrived more than a half-hour early for our reservation and were welcomed with great charm by the hostess. My mother requested a table by a window so we would have no trouble reading the menus, and we were cheerfully seated and immediately provided with a little ramekin of cheese spread and some slightly-past-their-prime water biscuits. While my dad wolfed down the crackers and cheese, I had a good look around and I must say that the décor is lovely, in a sumptuous, velvety, fin-de-siècle way. It would NOT have surprised me if the Unsinkable Molly Brown had delivered our beverage order. Mom and I had frosty, tall glasses of Yuengling, the perfect quaff for a hot summer evening. Dad washed his crackers down with glass after glass of iced water, which was attentively refilled by the busboy.

The menu is interesting and ambitious. I did not expect this in Olean. Because I try to be mindful of my order when someone else is picking up the check, I decided to skip an a la carte appetizer. One of my rules when I dine out on Monday evening is to NEVER order fish, as most restaurants take fresh delivery on Tuesdays and I hate freezer-burned fish. But dang it—I wanted the grouper. I asked the waitress when they got their fish in and she scampered back to check, and of course they get their fish on Tuesdays. I emitted a heavy sigh and she assured me that even though it was frozen, it would still make me happy. So I ordered the potato-encrusted grouper, with a “chef” salad to start. The salad was essentially a plateful of frisee, with a couple of cucumber slices, some shredded carrot, about a half-pound of garbanzo beans (gracious, Olean loves garbanzo beans) and a gazillion boxed croutons, most of which I ignored. My mom ordered chicken Parmesan and my dad selected duck. Both of my parents opted for the spinach salad with warm bacon dressing, which was delightful until the dressing cooled and congealed on the spinach.

When our dinners arrived, it was apparent that Dad had hit the jackpot with his duck. It was probably the ungreasiest duck I have ever seen, served with a plum sauce on the side. He absolutely HOOVERED the meat off the bones, but he had room for several forkfuls of the risotto I had ordered with my fish. Mom’s chicken parm was plentiful, and served with a baked potato instead of penne at her request. She had leftovers to take home. My fish was okay. It didn’t make me ecstatic, but it made me content. The potato crust was like a McDonald’s hash brown sitting on top of a moist piece of previously-frozen-but-still-edible grouper. The risotto was divine.

My only real quibble with my evening here may seem petty: I worked as a waitress when I was putting myself through college and grad school. I understand that polished service comes with experience and I can’t fault a young person for not knowing when the fresh fish comes in. But if I had ever gone to work with soiled trousers and an unwashed apron, I would have been sent home before my shift even started. I would NEVER call customers “you guys,” particularly if the party included senior citizens. Our server was attentive and borderline friendly (and her makeup was flawless), but she was a little too casual and rather too unkempt to rate her service very highly.

  • Visited June 2011
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
6 Thank Lori12309
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Buffalo, New York
Level 3 Contributor
14 reviews
10 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
“GREAT!”
Reviewed July 28, 2011

This historic location in downtown Olean, NY has GREAT food and GREAT atmosphere ........it was once the Olean Public Library for which is has been preserved for all to enjoy.
While there recently for our anniversary, my husband and I enjoyed a tasty dinner along with wonderful dinner music from Sirius Radio.
THANKS, Old Library.....keep up the GOOD work!!!
:)

  • Visited July 2011
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank NewYorkStater
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
canada
Level 6 Contributor
191 reviews
117 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 116 helpful votes
“Expectations not met”
Reviewed July 9, 2011

The Old Library Restaurant is in a beautifully restored old Carnegie Library. When we walked through the doors the architecture and the awards on the wall (we assumed they were culinary awards but I didn't actually read them) suggested we were in for a treat. Our hostess and server were very friendly, and efficient. The first suggestion that maybe our expectations were a bit too high was when we sat down and were handed this large thick book. It was a 10 page menu. My experience has been that it is very difficult for a restaurant to do such a large number of dishes very well and certainly 10 pages of choices was disconcerting. Unfortunately that turned out to be the case. The spinach salad I chose was nice. It was served with a warm bacon dressing but it would have been a lot better without the factory made croutons. I am afraid that sort of set the tone for the rest of the meal. My main was ok as was my wife's. Dessert was also average. Certainly the meal was nice (it wasn't bad it just wasn’t great) the building itself is quite amazing but our expectations were high and they were not met.

  • Visited June 2011
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank yournamehereCanada
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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