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Oct 16, 2007 08:24 AM

Locke Ober or Oleana?

I realize these are both very different experiences, but I am trying to choose between the two for a birthday dinner. I haven't been to either one, and have always wanted to go to both. Wondering hound's thoughts on which you would choose and why? Also, is there a significant price difference between the two? That isn't a huge consideration but I would like to have some idea of Locke Ober's prices, and their online menu doesn't list them....

Thoughts? Thanks guys.

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    1. I would also have to say Oleana, although I have heard somewhat mixed things about the place recently, it still have a funner style of food. My opinion on the food front is that Oleana wins by a wide margin, but they are very different in style. The place is small, so that may be somthing you want to consider, particularly since the patio is likely done for the season. Locke-ober's is OK for what it is. Very traditional style. Probably the heaviest food I have ever eaten. I mean take a lobster, which should be a fairly healthy dish and douse it with cream and butter, making it a cardiac bomb. I think Locke-ober is a type of place to go on a rainy cold winter night, drinking heavy wine and not counting calories. I remember entrees to be in the $28-$40 range. When I went (last spring on a cold and rainy day) there was no one in the restaurant.

      1. It really depends on what you want food-wise and atmosphere-wise. I haven't been to Locke Ober since the re-do (a long time, I know) but it still serves what I think of as "man club food." Very heavy and rich. It's a dark space. Oleana is one of my favorite places - I know it has its detractors on the board, but I have never been unhappy there. The food is by and large much lighter and fresher tasting that what I'd get at Locke Ober. The only downside to Oleana, in my mind, is the smallness of the room and the close proximity of neighboring diners . . . depends on who's coming to the birthday dinner! We went w/family and it was fine. If you want to talk privately and get romantic, not a great spot.

        1. I haven't been to Locke Ober, but I prefer a casual environment and always feel cozy at Oleana, and other than a couple of meals with slightly under-seasoned meat, I've always loved the food. My favorite is the vegetarian tasting menu. I've had it many times and am always so pleased with it.

          1. We chose Locke-Ober for Mr. Rabbit's 40th.

            The menu is very traditional (raw bar, steak and seafood, rich and heavy sauces, as another poster indicated), and during our visit, execution wasn't even perfect (my steak was overcooked, Mr. Rab's Indian pudding was a little bland). Also, service wasn't quite as polished as we were anticipating.

            And yet, for a one time, landmark birthday, I'm glad we went. The room is gorgeous, and we were in the mood to do it up like the old boys. We have no plans to go back to Locke-Ober (well, maybe for a drink at the bar, which I found quite charming). But I have no regrets about making a celebratory stop at one of Boston's culinary grand dames.

            PS - I have never been to Oleana, although it's on my list (and I just sent my step- mother Ana Sortun's cookbook!).

            5 Replies
            1. re: Rabbit

              Thanks all for your feedback. I also tend to prefer more of a "casual" environment with foods that aren't incredibly heavy so it looks like Oleana may be the right choice for me this time. I've previously thought I might want to saddle up to the bar one afternoon at Locke Ober for some lobster stew and an app or two; lunch there might be more my speed.
              Anyone want to chime in on "must-have's" at Oleana? I've found a few threads and it looks like the baked alaska is a definite....the chicken under a brick looks like a winner too; how about apps? Appreciate any recs you guys can give.

              1. re: twentyoystahs

                I recently posted on another thread that, although I'm not as big a fan of Oleana as most, I loved their Ricotta Dumplings with Red Wine and Kale. I think they offer it in both app and entree sizes.

                1. re: twentyoystahs

                  Just ate at Oleana last night for the first time. Ditto the rec on the ricotta dumplings. I also loved the carrot soup with goat cheese fritter, and the bean and walnut pate. My wife got the chef's tasting menu, which is similar to the vegetarian tasting, but includes meat dishes. This was a great way to try a lot of things. The walnut brown butter ice cream with pumpkin turnover was delicious for dessert.

                  They still had the patio open with heat lamps on, though we sat inside. It was a nice, pretty quiet spot for an anniversary dinner (of course it was a Tuesday). The service was also outstanding.

                  1. re: twentyoystahs

                    Locke Ober begs disappointment. Oleana has maybe slid a hair in the past year or so, but it's still consistently excellent and interesting. In terms of must-haves, I'd vote for several of the apps, actually. For kicks, their deviled eggs are excellent. Ditto the bean and walnut pate, "Sultan's Delight", and fideos. In terms of entrees, I almost always get fish and have never been let down.

                    1. re: franksnbeans

                      I cannot recall the main dish I had when I ate there several years ago, but the Sultan's Delight app (tamarind glazed beef short-ribs) was so memorable I asked for the recipe to be EMailed to me. I never got it, but specifically bought Ana Sortun's "Spice" cookbook for the recipe.

                      My DC got the flattened chicken seasoned with the za'atar, and that was very good as well. We ate at the small bar, and the bartender was very knowledgable about the food and pairing wines with what we ate. Definitely a place I need to re-visit.