Saturday, November 05, 2005

Oleana










Oleana is a cozy restaurant serving interesting Meditterean food that is different from anyplace else. This was our 4th visit and it has become one of our favorite restaurants. The service was lovely, our waiter made honest reccomendations and chatted for a bit. From the cushions near the litte stove fireplace to the samples of wine, they go out of their way to make you comfortable.

There are two dining rooms and a outdoor patio that is lovely in the summer, especially when they have the band playing outside. However, the dining rooms are equally nice, warm and cozy with comfortable benches and seats.

I opted for the vegetarian testing menu, and the first course served was a spicy carrot puree & egyptian spice mix with nuts and olive oil acommpanied by the armenian bean and walnut pâté with pomegranate seeds and homemade string cheese. The naturally sweet carrots were perfectly balanced by the spices and fragrant olive oil, a great blend of sweet and spicy. The pâté was rich and nutty and the juicy pomegranite seeds and salty string cheese contrasted nicely.

The next plate was greens with pecan labne, apple, fennel, & pomegranate. The creamy labne combined with the crunchy, fresh tasting greens and crisp apple to make an ordianary salad seem luxurious.

The two appetizers came next, the tamarind glazed beef with smokey eggplant puree and the cabbage dolma with lamb, butternut sqaush & turkish red pepper broth. The tamarind beef was wonderful, the tamarind added a acidic touch to the rich and flavorful braised beef. The eggplant puree was quite smokey, but was light and smooth. The cabbage rolls were very good, especially the buttery butternut squash puree and the pepper broth played along well the the meat filling. A well-done spin on the old classic.

The next course in the tasting menu was the spinach falafel & watercress salad with tahini, yogurt and beets, which were the best falafel I've ever had. They were hot and crunchy on the outside, but creamy and flavorful inside. The cool beets and yogurt made them even better, the contrast of smooth and crisp was wonderful.

The fried haloumi cheese, flambeed with ouzo & grilled pear with spiced dates arrived bursting with flames and aromas. The chewy, moist cheese and tart unripe pear made for quite a textural contrast, but the dates were cloying sweet, yet bitter, almost inedible.

The entrees arrived next, but weren't as strong as the appetizers. The flattened lemon chicken with za'atar & turkish cheese pancake had an exotic flavor from the spices on top and was moist inside. However, the cut of chicken was strange and made cutting it a challenge. The crispy duck with celery root skordalia, forest raised shitakes & rigani was indeed crispy and had a rich duck taste, but was slightly dry.

The next course was the ricotta & bread dumplings with red wine, porcini and kale, which were amazingly rich and flavorful. The dumpling were airy, yet creamy and sauce was fabulous, and full of lake and porcinis.

For dessert we had the chocolate hazelnut baklava, made only for chocolate lovers. The crunch of the pastry and nuts was a nice contrast to the smooth chocolate filling. The salted hazelnuts served on the side were great, especially with the sarelle cream. The pomegranate granita with künefe and rose petal jam was just as good. The icy, sweet granita, rose petal jam,and creamy künefe were an unusual, yet wonderful combination.

The food here is very unusual and served in a welcoming environment. Many of the dishes will blow you away in their subtle complexity. Dinner is around $50 a person, including a three course meal and tax.

Oleana
134 Hampshire St
Cambridge MA 02139
P:(617) 661.0505 F:(617) 661.3336
http://www.oleanarestaurant.com/

1 Comments:

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