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Thanks to Chowhounders -Third stop Mike and Patty's! Fourth stop - Oleana!

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Two more great recommendations from Chowhounders, For breakfast we had our heart set on Charlie's Sandwhich Shoppe, but when we got there we discovered it was closed for vacation. Not to worry - we had a backup plan. We made our way to Mike and Patty's (yes, there is an "s" on the end. I think that when a restaurant is a person's NAME, then most put an "s" when referring to it i.e. "We ate at Joe's last night." If it is not a persons;s name, then it stands alone i.e. "We ate at Pizza Hut last night.) That is my take on the debate anyway.

I am going to cut and paste our review of both Mike and Patty's and Oleana (no "s"!) from our blog. If you would like to see pics (and don't mind wading through other stuff) you can go to: http://buencamino1.wordpress.com/

MIKE and PATTY'S

Mike and Patty’s is quite possibly the smallest dining establishment we’ve ever seen, seating precisely seven hungry breakfasters. The kitchen is open and bustling with four very coordinated cooks, scurrying to piece together the sandwich orders that simply don’t stop coming in. Folks in the know steadily stream in from the street, mostly youngish sorts with a touch of hipster, and plenty congregate with their precious edibles perched on surrounding curbs.

We, however, are destined for a coveted inside spot, and soon enough manage to snag the catbird seat at the bay window.

I’ve repeatedly read that the Bacon and Egg Fancy is the sammie of choice, but can’t keep myself from the Breakfast Torta given the rundown of mexi-ingredients: fried egg, salsa roja, cheese, chiles poblanos, potato, frijoles negros, and (generous) avocado. While the cooks somehow squeeze it all into a browned, chewy bread roll, I eyeball the array of hot sauces and consider what species of tastebud masochism will most delight me this morning. Several healthy dashes of Tapatio later and I’m reeling.

MP opts for the Green Madame, a more vegetable-y take on the classic croque, most notably featuring garlicky broiled collards. Seen in the background is John’s simple Bacon and Egg, which he describes as the best possible rendition of an Egg McMuffin.

OLEANA

Similarly rumbling are our demanding tummies, so we mosy towards our second culinary destination of the day: Oleana, a modern Middle Eastern restaurant whose menu already has us dreading the prospect of having to decide. We wait briefly for the privilege of a table in the outside garden, replete with curled vines emerging from glass bowls hanging from branches above and firework bursts of blooms below. MP and I open with aperitifs, a Paopao (sparkling wine, strawberry, pink peppercorns) for her and a Champagne cocktail (champagne, lemon rind, sugarcube, bitters) for me. Delicious. We feel resplendent, and lucky to be here.

After a consultation with our waitress, we decide on sharing a selection of six meze – small exquisite dishes perfectly tailored re: Law of Diminishing Returns:

Hot Pepper Labne (yogurt) with Olive Oil and Dried Mint
Octopus and & Olive Shish, Smoked Green Wheat Salad, Skordato (pictured above
)Tuna Kibbeh Nayeh (tartare) with Turkish Spices, Pickled Onion & Herb Salad
Sultan’s Delight: Tamarind Glazed Beef & Smokey Eggplant Purée with Pinenuts (pictured below left)
Vermont Quail with Baharat, Barberries, & Pistachio (pictured below right)
Ricotta Loukoumades, Roasted Asparagus, Hazelnut & Maple Labne (pictured below center

It’s exactly the sort of restaurant experience I adore – scores of new flavor combinations, both strong and subtle, all beautifully presented in small portions in an intimate, comfortable setting. The hot pink is beet, by the way, which is somehow spiked throughout with sweet and pungent citrus. We go wild over the texture of the octopus, which has clearly been grilled but bears zero resemblance to my rubbery Rocky Point attempt several years back. We guess at a pre-boil, which is later confirmed by our waitress; she explains that it’s also raked over a Spanish-style washboard such that the flesh is even further tenderized before hitting the coals. The short rib of the Sultan’s Delight falls apart when prodded into a heap of tamarind, the intensity of its flavor matched and augmented by the depth of the darkly-flavored smoked eggplant purée.

I’m skipping a lot of oohs and ahhs here, partially because I wouldn’t order a single one of these dishes again were we to get the chance to return to Oleana – each one of them was so outstanding that I feel absolutely obligated to sample six completely new plates next time, with enormous confidence that they will be just as extraordinary.

We began to be pelted with fat raindrops late in the evening, an a migration inside took us to the bustling kitchenside bar. It is busy but not hectic, and appears impeccably organized – a necessity given the volume of orders coming in all at once. For once, we’ve saved a spare space for something sweet (it was decided as soon as the waitstaff mentioned “Pastry Kitchen”); John, self-proclaimed hazelnut-fiend, selects the Chocolate Hazelnut Délice with Hazelnut Cocoa Nib Tartlet and Hazelnut Praline Ice Cream. MP and I split a goblet of Moscato and all three drift off into bliss.

Thank you again for the fantastic suggestions!

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Oleana
134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139

Pickled Onion
355 Rantoul St, Beverly, MA 01915

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  1. God I miss working near Mike and Patty's. Glad you had a nice time.

    1. Thanks for sharing this - it's a lot of fun to tour our fair city through your eyes and tastebuds!

      1. I can't really tell if you loved Mike and Patty's or found it to be just ok, nothing special.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Bellachefa

          Adored it! Wouldn't call it innovative, but the intimacy of the atmosphere is impossible to top, and the sammies were expertly executed. Would go back next time we're in the area.

        2. so glad you liked Oleana! For those of us who love it, is a very, very special place.Please remind me where you are from so I can quiz you when/if I ever come there...your tastes are so very much like my own. And from all of us, thanks for reporting back!

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          Oleana
          134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139

          2 Replies
          1. re: Madrid

            Funny your username - this post was actually written by my daughter janel, who is currently living in Madrid, Spain! We're originally from Arizona.

            1. re: lindatork

              I'm from NC, wnet to college in Mass. , and grad school in Northern Calif, where I did my dissertation on Goya and go tto spend around 2 years in Madrid. Loved it..but that was back in the early 80's. I livei n Boston now...I remember you said your daughter is a food writer in Madrid...given the fantasic seafood (I remember live shrimp crawling around on ice in the fish markets) and amazing vegetables she has there, all the more impressive she enjoyed Neptune, Oleana, etc. Maybe the vegs have changed with agricultural practices since the European union...but 25 years ago, they were bursting with flavor. Lots of people say Boston seems very European...maybe that's part of why I'm still here...but the flavor of life so to speak is hardly mediterrean, other than the fact that it is full of students, grad students, Europeans, and dedicated foodies who've had to learn to live with our limited growing season.

              If your Madrid daughger was missing Spain, I'd have ecommended Toro and Haberno de Haro, and Estragon and mybe even Cuchi-Cuchi...not for the food a much for decor and atmosphere. But since she was coming from Spain, I thought she'd go for Neptune and Oleana...both feel to me really European but with New England produce and fish.

              I hope you get to visit her in Spain, and that all three of you come back to Boston!

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              Toro
              1704 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118

              Oleana
              134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139

          2. Loved your detailed reports and your Law of Diminishing Returns, which sort of crystallized for me a vague feeling I've been having lately, so very helpful, thanks!!

            2 Replies
            1. re: GretchenS

              Thanks Gretchen. We have gotten really smart about ordering, especially on this New England trip. We just got home from New York and felt very good about our abilities to try many things, be completely satisfied and yet not be so stuffed as to not enjoy every bite. Our general MO for 3 persons was to order 2-3 apps and maybe one entree and dessert. Or we also sometimes just ordered 4-6 apps to share (oftentimes the apps are more inventive. . .) You can read our full report on the blog mentioned in the top post.

              1. re: lindatork

                I actually did start reading your blog, including the stuff about the family reunion, and thoroughly enjoyed it, and then I thought "wait, they are paying me to work around here!" :)