Can't Get Into Oleana, Where would you take Foodie from New York
Help, my cousin is coming in from New York. She actually has a food blog and really wanted to be taken to Oleana. Its Tufts graduation and there are no seats to be had. Where else would you take someone with great taste, high standards, looking for something unusual? Don't recommend Chez Henri, we just ate there for mother's day and it was terrible.
I'd suggest Baraka Cafe, a more authentic version of Oleana's concept, serving Algerian and Tunisian fare. The food is consistently superb, and the vibe is distinctly Cantabridgian. If you can call the requisite 36 hours in advance for the bastilla, it is well worth it.
Be advised that it's cash only, and they don't serve alcohol. There are several nearby bars for great cocktails; the closest and arguably best is Green Street, perhaps a five-minute walk away.
I'm sure you will get some other good recommendations, but I did want to mention that I'm *fairly* sure Oleana doesn't take reservations for their outside seating or the bar. If you are willing to wait (probably a while) for one of those tables/bar seats, you might be able to get in without a reservation. Not sure how easy it would be, but if your cousin has her heart set on it, all hope may not be lost unless they've changed their reservation system for the busy weekend. You might want to call and check.
soxchik and finlero what a fantastic suggestion! Is baraka cafe the one on pearl street? I'm going to google it. I actually had a long talk with them on the phone and they either don't have the patio open or they have decided to take reservatons for it because they didn't even suggest our trying to come and stand in line. Myself, I think Oleana's highly overrated. I loved ana sortun's cookign when she was at casablanca and some of the appetizers are fabulous but the main dishes are quite dull (of course I'm a chili freak). I was going to offer to cook my cousin the desired meal from the Spice cookbook but then I just decided that it probably wouldn't work out since everything I've tried from it hasn't come out well.
Thank you so much for the suggestion. Keep 'em coming!
I believe that Oleana's only takes reservations and seating on the patio is based on those reservations, i.e., when it is open, there may be many more tables available inside. But the best thing to do is call.
What was the problem with Chez Henri?
Gini's suggestions below are great - I would also add in the Oleana neighborhood, the Blue Room and Hungry Mother, the latter being more "unusual" for Bostonians at least. You might also consider Dante or Benatti, also in Cambridge, for high-end and somewhat novel Italian. (Benatti was just reviewed in the Boston Globe today.)
I love Baraka Cafe. Be aware that they don't serve alcohol.
Other slightly more upscale options nearby:
East Coast Grille (Grilled seafood)
EVOO (New American)
Gargoyles on the Square (New American)
Green Street Grille (New Yankee)
There's also Ten Tables in JP, which I adore.
I also like lots of the Central & South American joints in East Boston, particularly Rincon Limeno, which is Peruvian.
Since the Soho/Chinatown squeeze of NY's Little Italy, I might take her to Prezza, Taranta or Neptune Oyster in the North End.