Oleana - is it everything they say it is?
(Credit to French Connection replays for title of post)
Answer: Mostly, yes.
A fresh look - my first visit...
Ambience: The garden patio is a fantastic space, probably my new favorite in the area. Dim lighting hindered some diners, but hand-held lights produced on request. Chairs cause a little ache in the back by the end of two hours.
Service: On this night, near impeccable, starting with the hostess on down. "Off" wine replaced at bar - friendly, a tad slowly paced, but appreciated not getting rushed.
Carrot puree with spice blend
Grilled calamari served more as a cool salad
Salad with thin crisps, balls of cucumber and melon
Lamb with fava bean moussaka
Duck shawarma with beans in rose/cardamom yogurt
Almond cremolata with warm chocolate panino -
Camomile teaser with poached peach with camomile creme brulee - Just realized we never got a brulee! Was placed on a shortbread cookie instead and were not told of substitution. :(
04 Grenache, Chateau Pesquie ‘Terrases,’ Cotes du Ventoux, France 9 - Initial glass had sour aftertaste - admitted day old bottle and opened a fresh bottle (and I am no wine spectator, but S. and I could both tell it was odd...)
05 Syrah/Tempranillo, San Alejandro ‘Baltasar,’ Calatayud, Spain 8 - Quite fine.
03 Chenin Blanc, Benedicte de Rycke ‘Cuvee Louise,’ Jasnières, Loire Valley, FR 39 - Perfect for summer evening. Stood up to meat.
French press for two.
Overall: As a whole, it is a fantastic dining experience. The food was competent, and the spicing very ambitious - It is not a place I would take my folks - they would not enjoy the "flavor profiles" whatever that may mean, but you catch me - The sum of the parts made it, however, highly enjoyable.
I normally refrain from restaurant comment, but my wife and I recently had dinner at Oleana. I had the evening off (very unusual, for a Tuesday), we had a sitter (equally unusual) and after hearing so many wonderful things, we headed to Cambridge. I will first say that the menu is an exotic read. The execution, however, is anything but. Rather than describing Ana's cuisine as Arab and Turk-inspired (which to a publicist or eager beaver food writer it is), I would probably call it as "rural sophisticated," or something like that. The flavors are straightforward, and not in any way exotic. Tomato kibbeh, dolma and labne were bulghur (so mild it could have been barley couscous) with simply seasoned tomato water and a ripe tomato half, peeled, stuffed with housemade yogurt cheese and served over the wheat. Greek rusks in the chilled tomato soup are simply slow cooked croutons. Duck Shawarma turned out to be crispy, boneless duck confit next to a simple disk of baked, single-rise dough topped with beautiful, tiny yellow wax beans from Chris' and Ana's farm. I didn't really notice the rose-cardamom yogurt.
All this said, it was easily the most enjoyable experience we've had in the Boston area in quite some time. Ana doesn't attempt to set the world on fire with avant garde cuisine, but her dishes are well conceived and executed. Don't expect crazy New Turk cooking or whatever, but expect true, honest, bright flavors in a style that, to me, is woefully absent around here. The next mussels with chorizo, beet salad with hazelnuts and goat cheese, balsamic reduction, whatever... Thank goodness for Oleana.
It sounds lovely. Unfortunately, on my sole trip to Oleana, I ordered a veal entree that looked and smelled like Alpo dog food. I'm not kidding---it was appalling and I hope they've removed it from the menu. The appetizers and desserts were very good, however, and I would like to go back and have them redeem themselves.