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Aug 1, 2009 11:00 AM

oleana suggestions

I am going to oleana tonight and I am looking for great dishes. thanks.

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  1. Was there last night (7/31/09) and enjoyed the carrots and dukkah "mini-app," a salad special that had fennel on it and a tuna dish. Soft shell crab looked good. Excellent desert that included bay leaf ice cream! Service was a little slow but polite and responsive.

    1. I haven't been there in years and am wondering the same question: recommedations?

      Searches throughout the board come up with mostly the ricotta dumplings, the bread pudding (apparently not on their online menu right now,) and Sultan's Delight. Dessert favorites mentioned the Sicilian cremolata, cheese plate, and baked alaska.

      Responses of veg tasting menu are up and down.

      Still looking for dish recommendations.

      7 Replies
      1. re: globalgourmand

        We have found that, for two, the perfect amount of food and variety the veg tasting menu supplemented by supplemented by a non-veg dish (sultan's delight is brilliant, as are the lamb and fish dishes we have tried). I know some hounds do not love the veg tasting (or oleana, for that matter), but we have always been completely wowed by the place and felt that the chef's selection is right on.

        1. re: elbev

          Reporting back, it was the three of us and we were all EXTREMELY pleased.

          We did, indeed opt for the vegetarian tasting menu (four mezze + dessert)supplemented by four appetizers, one pret a manger, and one more dessert. We also tried the Sortini which was a cocktail of sake, lychee and something floral I can recall. Just lightly sweet and tropical-- very refreshing. The following is our meal to my best recollection...

          The first round brought our pret a manger (the carrot puree & dukkah with its bright orange color and rich cumin scent which wake the senses) and the first veg-tasting course: delicately dressed red oak leaf lettuce, goat cheese, olive puree, and the sweetest, most aromatic yellow watermelon. The expediter had said "watermelon seed." Both of these dishes had intoxicating aromas and were lightly sweet-though perfectly balanced ways to start the meal.

          Next round brought the spinach falafel, which were rich and creamy (not crisp like the falafel I'm accustomed to, but far surpassing anything I've ever had in flavor,) complemented by earthy vibrant magenta beet dressing along a sheet of lavash and garnished with fresh "crinkled cress" (which I had thought was arugula,) and the most perfectly crunchy-tender, bright and un-offending pickle slice I've ever had. We also chose the heirloom tomato kibbeh dish which paired the unmistakable melting-sweet flavor of a ripe summer heirloom tomato with the spicy kick of the labne. The vegetarian tasting dish here was a beautiful monochromatic bowl of crunchy and (honestly!) succulent broccoli, moist favas, and (maybe braised?) dill with something of a sour cream dollop. The distinct flavor of dill made an anecdotal reference to one's herb garden while the broccoli and favas brought crisp and rich textures.

          Our third course included one of the appetizer specials which was crisp, fried hot peppers stuffed with a creamy (goat?) cheese over sweet honeydew and next to spiced cucumbers on tabbouleh. You can imagine the spectrum of flavors and textures bouncing off eachother: juicy, crisp, spicy, sweet, rich, bitter, mild, fresh, and crunchy. The vegetarian mezze here was something of a fresh mixed vegetable soup with the homey flavors of a good vegetable stock. The still-crisp kernels of corn were my favorite part of this dish and it had a pretty carrot jam over the top, but my boyfriend couldn't get past the flavor-memory of his father's camping staple "hamburger stew" and, though I honestly tried to it (sorry!), that same taste memory ruined my appreciation for the dish as well. It was so colorful and fresh and nothing like the canned-vegetable laden/soggy orzo/dry ground beef version that his dad makes, but it had enough essence of it to make the dish one of the lower points of a still-superb meal.

          Finally, I believe, was the small portion of the ricotta-bread dumplings, the Sultan's Delight, and a simple and rich vermicelli dish that was our fourth veg mezze. The aroma of meaty chanterelles in a the savory tomato sauce with sweet kale decorated the simple ricotta and bread dumplings. One chowhound had mentioned only the faintest nuance of ricotta in the dumplings and I might have agreed except to say that I think of ricotta as offering more of texture than flavor to dishes, which I think was carried through be these moist and creamy dumplings. I loved the dish but I would happily try others if I returned. While the smokey eggplant of the Sultan's Delight was so delicate and silky with the tender pine nuts running throughout, I found it was not enough to balance the sugar and salt of the tamarind glazed beef. Perhaps we had been so tuned in to the delicate flavors of all the fresh produced that sung through all our previous dishes that the power of a bold tamarind glaze felt like a noisy, rude awakening? Or maybe its just not our style. It didn't have a poor flavor, but I wouldn't bother to test my theories again. Funny that our one meat dish was our only real disappointment. Perhaps showcasing vegetables is what Ana and her team do best? Or maybe beef cannot compare to the glory of a summer bounty? Still, I have yet to try the seafood. Okay, but wait! The final dish of our fourth course was an al-dente vermicelli dish with some sauteed greens (chard maybe) and a very creamy, indulgent spicy tomato sauce. I want to say there was a hint of licorice in the sauce but my intuition tells me I'm still of the mark. Something about that dish was intruiging in the best way, keeping us coming back for another investigative forkful.

          And finally, a petite chocolate tarte garnished with fleur de sel and pretty chocolate ribbons. I often find chocolate desserts boring without the accent of some salt or spice or fruit or texture. This dessert was saved by some tiny chocolate mint leaves and that fleur de sel. It otherwise would have been a nicely executed, and otherwise uninteresting chocolate tart. ...Especially next to the "Nougat Glacé with Nectarine-Fennel Preserves & Nectarine Sorbet" which our server helped us chose to also end with. Bursting with sweet, stone fruit flavor, this beautiful presentation had us giggling and humming with pleasure. Candied fruit/peel and pistachio in the glace and a delicate wide roll of thin wafer holding the preserves not only added architecture to the plate, but especially added texture. Meanwhile you can imagine a tiny scoop of vibrant orange sorbet with flavor bolder than its fresh counterpart and and the sweet gelatin of the nectarine-fennel preserves shining like jewel. This is something I've got to try to make at home: nectarine-fennel preserves. I love the idea, but would have appreciated a more prominent fennel flavor. Not everyone one would, but I love my fennel. (I'm the kid that at the black jelly beans that everyone left in the jar. I like my anise, I like my licorice. Tarragon stands in my top two fresh herbs along with basil... you know what I mean!)

          And to top it all off, our server, the man behind the bar, was courteous and patient though we were one of the last tables seated and surely the last guests on a Monday night. He gave us smart advice regarding portion size and kindly confirmed questions regarding my nut allergy. Expediters were friendly with descriptions of the mezze specials, we were kept up with water, and everyone else we encountered was very pleasant and polite. The bathroom was clean. I did nearly slip twice on something on the floor near the kitchen window but, I can't call it a fault (lol..."fallt?") I should have said something the first time! I could go on about decor and lighting and spacing and music and parking and so on, but its really only about the food for me.

          My dear friends and I shared a gorgeous, satisfying, complex array of mostly all vegetarian dishes that respected fresh, local produce and kept our palates guessing through conscious execution. The evening was entirely perfect.

          Now I'll have to try again in December. Perhaps then I might sing a different tune. ...or just opt for the fish.

          1. re: globalgourmand

            Great post, can almost taste it all (as I wipe drool off my keyboard).

            1. re: globalgourmand

              Wow, what a great post. I've never done the tasting menu there so I'm definitely looking forward to giving it a try!

              1. re: CreativeFoodie42

                I think going in the summer helped a lot (it is a veggie tasting menu after all!) Try to go soon! I hope you love it.

              2. re: globalgourmand

                globalgourmand - thanks for the beautiful description of your food! I was at Oleana last night with two DCs, and your post inspired us to take the same approach (veg tasting + extra apps & desserts to share). What a wonderful experience. The highlights included the lamb & eggplant "dumplings" (tender bits of lamb wrapped in a slice of eggplant and then lightly fried); the carrot puree pret a manger; zucchini fritters with Haloumi cheese and a nectarine/tomato salad; and the ricotta and bread dumplings, but everything was delicious and the perfect amount of food. The veg tasting might not hold up as well in the winter, but on a beautiful late summer night out on the patio, it was just perfect.

                1. re: tsackton

                  tsackton, SO happy you were happy with your experience! I'd be curious to return in the dead of winter to see how far Ana et al. can stretch their creativity (perhaps further showcasing the a bounty of mediterranean spices,) but I agree that a late summer night almost guarantees a magical evening. Sounds like you had some other spectacular dishes there-- those lamb and eggplant dumplings and the zucchini fritters with halloumi! Mmm...

          2. I went with a couple of friends and we shared all 6 of the little pret a manger plates to start, which was really fun and really yummy. Each of us had misgivings about 1 or 2 of the dishes and we all ended up liking all 6. The lamb and moussaka has also made me very happy the 2 or 3 times I've ordered it.

            2 Replies
            1. re: GretchenS

              Sounds like you had a great meal, and normally I'd recommend the veggie tasting menu strongly, but recently shared the tasting menu and an order of Flattened Lemon Chicken with Za’atar & Turkish Cheese Pancake. Boy, is that a good dish!! The waiter explained that they make a confit of lemon, then stuff it under the chicken skin before coating with Za'atar and then cooking under a brick. really, really good.

              1. re: GretchenS

                Oooh, I LOVE lamb AND a good moussaka!