Thursday, August 13, 2009


If I was going to recommend one nice restaurant to someone visiting Boston, I think Oleana would be near the top of the list. You can find fancy French, Italian, Japanese, and New American restaurants in any city, but I think top notch, innovative Mediterranean food is much harder to find. This the niche that Oleana fills, and it does so exquisitely. Abby and I had been hear a couple of times (including the day we became engaged) and it was one of the few restaurants we absolutely had to go to before moving to Chicago. Our previous trips to Oleana were in the fall and winter, so we opted for the dining room, but, being a nice summer day, we were able to get a table outdoors this time around. Oleana's patio, pictured above, is really nice and I would recommend asking for a seat out there if you go here on a nice day.

Again, Abby and I followed the strategy of ordering a number of appetizers and splitting an entree. We both agreed that the highlight of the meal was our first appetizer: shrimp cocktail and cucumber spoon salad with sorel ice.
This cold dish came served in a mason jar the contained the cucumber salad and the sorel ice with three large shrimp draped over the edge. All of the flavors worked together perfectly, and between the shrimp, cucumber salad, and ice, there was an interesting mix of textures and temperatures that combined to make a perfectly refreshing starter for a warm summer evening.

Next, we had fried mussels with hot peppers and Turkish tartar sauce. This was good, but nothing to write home about... I'll just cut to the next dish, which was another home run: heirloom tomato kibbeh with heirloom tomato dolma and hot pepper labne. As with the shrimp cocktail, this was another dish that was perfectly matched to the season. The tomato for the dolma was lightly stewed, but not so much as to lose its firmness and fresh taste.
For the fourth course, we ordered one Oleana's signature dishes, Sultan's delight. This dish includes a smokey eggplant puree with urfa chiles and pine nuts and a tamarind braised short rib.
Our fish and sixth courses were Oleana's takes on two staples of mediterranean street food: falafel and shawarma.
I usually don't order falafel because it tends to be too dry, but that was not a problem here. The falafel were served on a thin flat bread with house made pickles. The shawarma sandwiches were filled with duck and served with fried potatoes and broccoli.

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