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So is anyone excited about this opening? Does anyone know where it's physically going to be?

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  1. I'm very interested in any project with Ana Sortun's name attached to it.

    12 Replies
    1. re: MC Slim JB

      Do you know where it's going to be located?

      And yes, she is one of the most talented chef's in the city.

      1. re: joebelt

        No real info yet, but the Cambridge-Watertown line suggests a few spots. Maybe that space on Concord Ave that used to be a series of restaurants for years, and last I looked was a discount furniture shop that looked to be on its last legs.

        1. re: MC Slim JB

          I read it would be next to Violette Imports at 1 Belmont Street.

          1. re: KarenKL

            From Maura Kilpatrick's bio on the Oleana website, looks like somewhere in Cambridge:

            Oleana’s tremendous success has spawned another Kilpatrick/Sortun collaboration: in the spring of 2008, Cambridge will welcome Sofra, a Middle Eastern bakery and café. Sofra comes from an ancient Arabic word meaning dining table, picnic, or kilim; it is also a synonym for generosity and hospitality. Inspired by the cuisine of Turkey, Lebanon, and Greece, Sofra will offer up a modern Eastern Mediterranean twist on traditional mezze, with flat bread sandwiches called gozleme and a hummus bar. And for the sweets, Kilpatrick will create such favorites as Egyptian palace bread, kunefe, molasses cookies, and sticky toffee pudding.

            Darn, I was hoping for Watertown.

            Edited: Sorry, I guess this isn't new info: Violette Imports is technically still in Cambridge even though it's on Belmont Street.

            1. re: KarenKL

              Not next to, but in. Saw a paper sign in the window this morning & construction is underway:

              Application Continued from October 23, 2007- Mo Ventures, Inc. d/b/a Sofra, Maureen Kilpatrick, manager, for a Common Victualer’s license at 7 Belmont Street, from 6:00a.m. to 7:00p.m., seven days per week. Total inside seating capacity is 20. This applicant has also applied for an Entertainment license to include one television, one radio and audio tape machine/CD which may play music below, at, or above conversation level.

              1. re: Taralli

                Does anyone have a good sense of an opening date? Oleana's website says June.

                I'm pretty sure Violette Wine Importers supplies most or all of the wine for Oleana, so I am sure they have a close relationship. Maybe Sofra will get Violette's retail license. It would be great to get some pastries and pick up some organic and biodynamic wines (and maybe the delicious 3-C Ale).

                1. re: Taralli

                  Looks like they're restoring/replacing the large, retro cream & green ceramic tiled exterior, so work is progressing.

            2. re: joebelt

              THE EMPEROR'S NEW BAKERY ?

              Its always uncomfortable being the lone voice of dissent on the boards
              so I'll be careful (like our friends @ Fox to be 'fair & balanced' (sic)...
              but I do think perhaps too much may be being made of Ana's new baby.
              As with Oleana, while one can sometimes get unusual and extraordinary
              dishes, sometimes they are simply unusual, and ordinary.
              After my 1st visit to Sofra, (Jammed at sunday 1pm)
              I'm hardly able to give a complete review. B u t my
              "hot spinach & cheese on flat-bread" yielded a spinach filling
              (just like mom would make at home (IF she withheld all seasoning)) a nice white cheese, less intense than feta, served on a cracker like flatbread about
              15% as delicious as the fresh flat bread at Helmand.
              Granted, we can't expect her to have a tandoor on the premises.
              but a six dollar sandwich, it wasn't
              I do give Anna & her team props for trying out things
              that no one else does!
              and admittedly, generally doing a good job of it.
              Just, lets face it kids, lots of the product
              is just OK.

              The Dude (of the Ab Goosht variety)

              1. re: Ab Goosht Dude

                Agreed. i have always echoed your above sentiments with regards to Oleana as well. but i think you and I are on the minibus here, maybe even a beetle, whereas there's a big big bus with all the other CHs on it.. It's so strange because My Love and I were devoted Ana groupies at Casablanca, and 8 holyoke, and aigo. it must be that we're just not that into the limitations of the savory cuisine represented at oleana and sofra.

                1. re: opinionatedchef

                  Hi opinionatedchef,

                  I actually agree with you on Oleana, but I nonetheless really enjoyed my lunch at Sofra (my post is below).

                  By no means do I consider Oleana to be a bad restaurant, but I do find that deliciousness is stunningly varied from one dish to the next. Most notably, I think the entrees tend to fall flat, especially as compared to the routinely outstanding meze, smaller plates, and desserts. I find this to be a common restaurant problem, boring mains bookended by good openers and closers, but it seems particularly acute at Oleana.

                  Considering that lunch at Sofra is essentially a collection of all the elements from Oleana I like the most (save for the lovely by-the-glass wine list), it's no surprise that I found it to be fantastic.

                  1. re: finlero

                    i'll look forw to trying some of your favs. Thanks much for the review.

                  2. re: opinionatedchef

                    Well, its sure nice to hear from
                    the other folks in the VW, (thought maybe it was just me)
                    I'm sure I'll give sofra another try or two,
                    & I wish them success too...
                    Just not 3 x per day for me thanx.

                    : )

                    The dude

            3. Does anyone have an update as to when Sofra will open? The Oleana website says July.

              3 Replies
              1. re: soxchik

                Go by there everyday. So far, place just covered in black tarpaper.

                1. re: Taralli

                  Me too -- I'm also excited because it looks like they saved the porcelain enamel panels... I'm hoping they're part of the finished product!

                  1. re: Taralli

                    Last week I saw some workers going in and out of Sofra, so hopefully there's something going on inside and it won't be too long.

                2. I'm also excited about Al's new sub shop, opening on Essex Street, too close to where I work. Hello weekly meatball subs! Bye bye belt!

                  2 Replies
                    1. re: Taralli

                      Actually, I'm not really sure.

                      Seriously, the OP asked " is anyone excited about this opening?" so I just piled on about another opening I'm excited about.

                  1. The menu is now posted in the window. I had neither pen nor paper, so couldn't jot it down, but here's what I remember. There are about 10 small meze -- appetizer type -- plates (for a mere $3) or bowls (can't remember the price for the larger portions. $6 perhaps?). They were middle east/mediterranean derived and, I think, all vegetarian. There is also a hummus bar! Not described precisely on menu, but you can infer that a variety of different types of hummus will be available. More substantial fare included a variety of flat bread sandwiches and a couple of meat dishes (some kind of schwarma if I remember correctly). I think the most expensive item on the menu was $9 -- pretty darn reasonable for an Oleana spin off (and a welcome dose of price sanity in recession times).

                    I happened by late in the day when the place was shuttered and no workers were around to ask about an opening date. But a peek in the window (this was about a week ago) made it look as if the place was about three-quarters of the way there. I can hardly wait. Looks like it will be a fun place for eaters where you can try a lot of different tastes for not a lot of dough-re-mi.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: katzzz

                      Just went by yesterday (8/13) and it looks like it MIGHT be on track for opening this weekend. Saw Ana Sortun through the window setting stuff out. I can't wait!

                      1. re: ilanah

                        Drove by this morning, and, for as ready as things looked inside, the man washing the windows said next Tuesday was likely to be the big day...

                        1. re: mrsx

                          Thanks for the update! I'll try to confirm with Farmer Chris if I get to the market tomorrow.

                          1. re: BostonZest

                            Chis says "that's the plan!" He said to call before you make a special trip or stop by his stand at Copley Square on Tuesday to be sure. (For those who don't know, Ana Sortun of Sofra & Oleana is married to Chris Kurth of Siena Farms.)

                            1. re: BostonZest

                              Interesting, I pressed my nose against the glass today (Saturday), place not finished and no activity. Menu sans prices taped to the window included most of the pret a manger and appetizer offerings from the Oleana menu, which is a good thing.

                    2. Flying by on the bus this morning at 7:30am, front door was open & I could see a big bucket of sunflowers.

                        1. Oh, I'm so sad they don't open earlier. We live right around the corner and DH is desperate for an easy place to walk out for a morning coffee. He's an early riser and 8:00 on the weekends just won't cut it :(

                          But on the plus side, I do want to eat EVERYthing on the menu!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: butterfat

                            Agree - menu looks great, and as I think about the location, it will interesting to see if it draws in all the Watertown folks who support the Middle Eastern bakeries and markets further down Mt. Auburn. It's pretty cool to have a higher-end place close to the source and that will cook with all those M.E. goodies that I don't know what to do with.

                          2. Just called them and they are open for business. Today is their first day of business, actually!

                            1. Went three times on Opening Day. Once to check it out, again later in the morning for a sweet thing, again for lunch. Clearly I liked it. Lunch: You get five choices on a "meze platter" for $9. You can check out the menu at sofrabakery.com. Ana S was at the counter beautifully doling out the portions. And Maura Kilpatrick was there, too, glowing. Almost went back for dinner, but I don't want the staff to create a nickname for me this early in the run. They're open 7am-7pm. And there is very limited seating. The food was uniformly superb. I hesitate to let anyone know about this precious jewel.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Shep Huntleigh

                                Hesitate? To the contrary - that location is a little off the beaten path, so make sure you spread the word. (It's also a tough location for seeing while driving, being on the inside curve, you're looking past it to make sure you make the turn onto Belmont, and not hitting those pesky pedestrians. So that corner building has always been a bit of a blindspot.)

                                1. re: Shep Huntleigh

                                  I visited yesterday too. It was crowded around 1 p.m., with a lot of people waiting for takeout.

                                  It's a small, cozy room, with benches covered in blankets along two of the walls, and stools that you can put your food on. Along one wall there's a counter, and you can see into the open kitchen. Next to the counter is a refrigerated cases with some vegetables and prepared foods for sale. They also have a table in the middle with fresh vegetables, spices, crackers, and a few other items for sale.

                                  They had clearly put some thought into serving the food, and seemed to be handling the crowd nicely (with some minor glitches, like people lining up in the wrong place or not picking up the right food).

                                  I tried most of the meze (there are 12, in little bins, and you pick which ones you want) -- all were good, but the only one I thought stood out was the shocking-pink, sweet beet tzatziki. The bourek was excellent, although I was surprised that it was a bread-pudding like thing and not the filling encased in dough I had expected. The "quick slice" is tuna, white beans, green olives, and perfect basil on a baguette -- very good, with fresh ingredients. The carrot kibbe, with yogurt and a spinach and raising filling, was wonderful. I shared it with my toddler, who had the same reaction I did when he tried it -- he got very quiet, and then grabbed his spoon and started eating with singleminded focus. I will be back to try more of the warm items. The bakery items looked delicious, too, but I managed to resist this time.

                                  I'm very excited that Sofra is here! Bob, I am one of those Watertown people in the Arax/Sevan/Massis neighborhood, and I will definitely be visiting Sofra often.

                                2. We went to Sofra for a snack after work yesterday. There were plenty of people who came in right after us creating a bit of a queue. The staff who were there seemed rather disoriented and slow, which is understandable for the first day, but made me feel ever so slightly uncomfortable.

                                  DH and I shared a mezze platter. You can choose 5 dips/salads from the options they have sitting out on the counter. We had the bean placki (very good, tangy oily bean salad), goat cheese with almonds (nice but not amazing), feta with sweet and hot peppers (which tasted and looked exactly like pimento cheese, so disorienting when you are expecting "exotic" flavors), beet tzatziki (delicious and addictive, I would love to learn to make this), and cacik (garlicky yogurt salad, very yummy). With all of this we were only served one small (like 3-inch round) za'atar flatbread. The bread was wonderful but if we had known that was all that accompanied the platter we would have ordered extra bread and crackers.

                                  It would be so nice if they could serve beer/wine with these mezze, it really would complement them so nicely.

                                  I ordered a glass of the orange blossom lemonade which I found disappointing. I LOVE lemonade, but I wouldn't order this again. I felt they were too heavy handed with the orange flower water creating that muddy flat orange blossom flavor that isn't pleasing. And there was no bright lemony flavor, and it wasn't sweet enough for my taste. (And I love very tart lemonade, but this was just sour and dull tasting, not brightly tart.)

                                  I took home two of the "perfect sugar cookies" which were completely respectable but neither the texture nor the flavor blew me away. The coconut macaroon I tasted from the sample tray was lovely and aromatic (very sweet of course), and many of the other baked goods looked very promising. DH is particularly keen to try the "sweet espresso craquelin" some morning.

                                  This location is so strange for people outside the neighborhood. I will be curious to see how they fare. The storefront is so easy to miss, and I'm not sure where people driving in will think to park. This place is so earnestly precious and stylized (in a way that I like, but still) that I have a hard time imagining the old-timers who frequent the Armenian stores in Watertown patronizing Sofra.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: butterfat

                                    I went yesterday and bought: a butter cookie with fig jam; an earthquake cookie; a date bar; chocolate hazelnut baklava; a molasses cookie; a tartlet with raisins and pistachios; and whipped feta with sweet and hot peppers. Yes, this was all for me and I am not ashamed. Was truly blown away by the quality of all items (the molasses cookie a bit less so, but everything else was truly sensational).

                                  2. I went to Sofra today, after learning about it on Daily Candy. We went around 1:30 and it was packed (and very warm, as the AC didn't appear to be on when we first got therethey didn't turn the AC on until we were almost out the door; we had to do takeout because it was so crowded). I ordered two things: 1) everything green with garlic & yogurt. It was absolutely delicious, but echoing another's review, it came with a very small piece of flatbread, and given my big appetite, the portion was on the small side. 2) chick pea, potato, labne & za’atar with cucumber stuffed flatbread. It was piping hot, rich, complex, and I was sad when it was done. My friend had the chicken schwarma and said it was amazing.

                                    We also had a dessert, which was like brioche with a hint of lemon--maybe it was this? kadayif with pistachio & lemon (I shared it with my friend and didn't see the label).

                                    All in all, I would rush back there to sample everything, but would go before or after peak hours, if that will be possible. I think the lines will be out the door soon (maybe extending into Harvard Square), and they will have to move to a larger space.

                                    Maybe you'll see me there tomorrow at 7am for breakfast! ;)

                                    1. Went to Sofra for breakfast Saturday morning - expected to see lines and hounds, but it was not terribly busy. The baked goods were overall outstanding - we had

                                      - A cheese brioche danish thing, that had sweet cheese, some golden raisins I think - very sweet.
                                      - An almond apricot brioche danish thing - similar to the cheese but less sweet overall, despite the nice slices of fruit - Brioche on both was great, not dried out.
                                      - An "ummm Ali" which was sort of like a chunk of bread pudding, but flavored with slightly sweet whipped cream, rose water and pistachios (among other goodies). This looked super-rich but was surprisingly light.
                                      - Last, but not least was a zaatar filled croissant, which was my favorite of the bunch - the zaatar with the buttery airy layers of dough was perfect and also a nice counterpoint to all the sweets.

                                      The place is adorable on the inside, smells really nice and the A/C was blasting when we were there. Saw some one else get the Turkish breakfast, which looked great - look forward to visiting again.

                                      1. Two of us went yesterday for a late lunch and shared a mezze plate with 5 choices ($9): smoked eggplant dip (smooth, very smokey and delicious), Bean and walnut pate and whipped feta with sweet and hot peppers just like Oleana, tomato kibbeh, and bean plaki. Since it does only come with two small pieces of bread we got an additional piece as suggested by others - it was certainly needed. To finish it all off we shared a "mauroeo" which would give the homemade oreos at Flour Bakery a run for their money. We cant' wait to go back to try the sandwiches. I love the fact that many of the items are available in small containers so you can run in and grab some to go. I also wanted to mention that the A/C seemed to be working (I know it was mentioned in another post that it may have been off), and there was no line when we arrived (around 3:30) but when we left at 4pm there were a handful of people.

                                        1. Went twice this weekend to the zoo that is Sofra.

                                          Short version: breakfast was ok, but lunch and dessert were utterly stellar.


                                          Three pastries with assets and liabilities.

                                          Rose water doughnut - perfect consistency, not enough rose flavor and, while I realize it was a doughnut, it had a slightly unpleasant greasy flavor as well.

                                          Morning bun w/ orange blossom glaze - great, subtle flavors, slightly underwhelming doughy consistency.

                                          Brioche tart w/ apricot - again delicious flavors, but not enough apricot filling, and the brioche tart was surprisingly tough.


                                          Chick pea, potato, labne & za'atar flatbread - simple, delicious, just about perfect. This is my favorite kind of cooking: a short list of high quality ingredients, with just enough preparation to highlight the innate flavors.

                                          Ground beef borek - excellent flavor, excellent texture and mouth feel, a delicious savory treat.

                                          Tomato kibbeh - again, simple and delicious, makes me want to get back ASAP to try the entire mezze bar.


                                          Blueberry tart - without a doubt the best crust I've had in forever. Great, fresh blueberries and filling as well.

                                          Assorted cookies - everything had wonderful flavor and texture. The savory lunch dishes may be reasonably healthy and nutritious, but the desserts here are so good that the prospect of coming here is always going to be that of a deadly caloric splurge.

                                          They desperately need more seating and better line management, and with two simple doors, this place is going to be awful to sit at in the winter, but the food apologizes for quite a lot. This place is destined to be a Chowhound darling, and it deserves it.

                                          1. After doing errands in the area, I stopped by yesterday around 12:30 in need of a snack and ordered a coffee, a spinach-cheese flatbread and three different cookies. The flatbread was very good, with very lightly cooked spinach with hints of spice (ground coriander, I think.., and maybe a bit of onion or shallot) with a complementary blend of cheeses in a very tasty bread. It was subtle and very good, although I think it would be a bit easier to eat with the spinach chopped up a bit. It was worth $6, and would be a good accompaniment to the mezze, but I don't think it would do it for me on it's own for lunch.

                                            The cookies were really good. I had an earthquake, which was a very chocolatey crinkle cookie with a slightly crackly exterior and a fudgy center. Mmmm. My husband's chocolate chunk cookie was really good as well, and my friend swooned over the leftover maureo at work today. The rest of the pastries looked really good, too.

                                            They must have closed early yesterday because of the holiday. They were closed around 4 when my son and I tried to go back so he could get a bite. Ana was inside chatting with a customer, and the staff was cleaning. The space is very sunny and pleasant. It will be tempting to linger over the very good Rao's coffee and a book or newspaper, but I'm guessing that will only happen during off times, since there was a steady stream of people getting either take-out or looking for a seat.

                                            A nice addition to the area, and I'll be back fairly soon. Lots of things I want to try, and I have to have some more of those cookies.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: bear

                                              The cookies are great, and so is the fruit tart. The other baked goods I tried looked better than they tasted (almond cake, apricot cream brioche, chocolate hazelnut baklava).

                                              I loved the chickpea-potato flatbread and I think I will try the lamb one next time.

                                              1. re: Pia

                                                Just came back from there - it was packed to the gills at 1:30 p.m. and there was nowhere for anyone to sit or line up! Unfortunately it was beastly hot inside - we felt terrible for the employees. I ordered the platter or 5 mezze for $9.00 - tried the cacik, syrian style hummus, whipped feta with sweet and hot peppers, kibbeh, whipped potatoes - all delicious - and served with 3 large pieces of bread. My friend had the salad which was fresh and delicious with a lovely lemony dressing. Baked goods looked amazing - will need to return to sample. Ana sells her spice mixes there too and lots of cold mezze to go. We watched the staff preparing the stuffed flatbreads on these giant kettle skillets - very interesting to see. I hope they get their climate control issues ironed out and also can expand seating.