Restaurant Openings

Dolly Olive Will Take Over the Former Bistro Agnes Space This Spring

The new restaurant, which features southern Mediterranean brunch and dinner, is part of the Sesame Collective group.

By Katherine Chew Hamilton February 1, 2022

Sesame Collective owners, from left to right: Kasey Mills, Laura Amans, and Jamal Hassan

When Bistro Agnes, the downtown French restaurant from the owners of Ox, announced in January that it would close after nearly two years of pandemic hiatus, questions quickly arose as to what would open in its place. Now its successor is ready to go public: Dolly Olive, a brand-new southern Mediterranean restaurant from the Sesame Collective restaurant group, which also includes Yalla, Shalom Y’all, Lil’ Shalom, Mediterranean Exploration Company, and Bless Your Heart Burgers.

Dolly Olive, led by Sesame Collective’s executive chef and co-owner Kasey Mills, is scheduled to open in late spring at 527 SW 12th Ave, serving daily brunch and dinner. The menu is still in the works, but an early draft of the brunch menu includes several requisite egg dishes, though with Mediterranean twists—think eggs with polenta and pesto, baked eggs with tomato, ricotta and Italian sausage, or brisket egg hash with potatoes and horseradish. There’s a section of the brunch menu devoted to things served on bread, from burrata and tomato toast to a signature burger with pancetta and fontina. Unlike many brunch places that focus on bread, eggs, cheese, and meat, Dolly Olive will also have a section dedicated to vegetables, from butter lettuce salads to fava bean–and–spring pea salad. Brunch will also include  a selection of house-made pastries, part of the new Sesame Collective pastry program currently based out of Yalla and run by pastry chef Carrie Ellen, with options such as chestnut doughnuts, cannoli, cardamom sticky buns, and feta handpies.

Dinner will start with Mediterranean-influenced appetizers, from cauliflower fritters with bagna cauda to smoked whole artichokes to ouzo-drenched manila clams; there’ll also be a whole menu of vegetables and a selection of sides. The menu will feature focaccia service, with fresh-baked slabs constantly coming out of the oven and arriving hot at customers’ tables. Mains will include grilled meats and fish, from lamb chops to ribeye to black cod. Plus, there’ll be a section dedicated to house-made pastas—a rarity in downtown Portland. Sesame culinary director Natalie Gullish, who spent time living in Sicily, will make a fresh pasta, an extruded pasta, and a stuffed pasta each day. There’ll be a section of the beverage menu dedicated to spritzes, another to cocktails with Mediterranean twists and hand-cut ice, and another to Mediterranean and local wines.

The restaurant gets its name from Mills’s grandmother. Though Mills never actually met his grandma Dolly Olive, he and his wife decided that if they had a daughter, they would name her Dolly Olive. Instead, they had a son—and now the restaurant is taking on her name.

“We just liked the idea of an ode to grandmas,” says Mills. “This project in particular is about comfort food; it’s food we really want to eat.”

The location is getting a largely cosmetic refresh, and will seat about 50 people indoors at its tables and bar, plus an outdoor seating area. It’s also next to Sesame Collective restaurant Lil’ Shalom, two doors down from the Multnomah Whiskey Library, and across the street from Toki—and the Sesame Collective owners hope to become part of a little bustling restaurant block downtown. 

“We’ve been a part of that neighborhood for quite some time, and we’ve really seen an amazing revitalization and vibrance to that part of town,” says Sesame Collective co-owner Jamal Hassan. “There’s a really excellent community of restaurants there … and there’s some great hotels in that area. And we’re excited to be part of that community, and do our part to breathe some life and give that area of downtown some love.”