Oleana… GO!!!

The title of this blog entry says it all. GO TO OLEANA. Is it date night worthy? YES! Is it worth more than one visit? YES!

We had the most amazing meal last night… and we will most definitely be returning for more adventures, as the menu changes seasonally. Not only is the food fabulous… the prices are very affordable and service is superb.

According to their website, the Cuisine centers on the Arabic influenced foods of the Mediterranean with a strong lean towards Turkish; the dishes are layered with flavor and unusual spice combinations. Our waiter (who was extremely helpful) also suggested that the chef takes influences from North African cuisine as well. Everything we tasted was delicious and to top it off, much of the [organic] produce is grown by the Chef’s husband on their farm Sudbury.

The spice combinations were unique, enticing and tantalizing. The menu was so chock-full-of-options, that this “limited eater” had way too many things to choose from. The menu’s primary focus is vegetables… featuring them as the centerpiece of most meals. In addition to the “Pret a Manager” (small servings of various spreads you can order to accompany your bread), mostly vegetarian appetizers, two vegetarian entrees, four fish entrees and five mean entrees, you can also choose to do a Vegetarian Tasting Menu that includes 5-courses topped off with a desert (for ONLY $40!).

We could not decide what to order — everything looked good. We settled on starting out with two of the Pret a Manager spreads, a shared order of the Vegetarian Tasting Menu and then added on two additional appetizers to share. We also ordered a bottle of wine… an Italian white blend. All of this food (and the bottle of wine)… which was WAY TO MUCH… came to a whopping $115. This place is just too good to resist.

Our spreads arrived quickly… a Spicy Carrot Puree & Egyptian Spice Mix w/ Nuts in Olive Oil (for $4) and an Armenian Bean & Walnut Pate with Homemade String Cheese (same price). We made the mistake of wolfing this down with heaping piles of bread… we just could not control ourselves. This was our downfall, as the food kept coming and kept tasting too good to resist. By the end of the meal, we were ready to pop.

The first course in the tasting was ANOTHER set of spreads… a Warm Buttered Hummus w/ Basturma and Tomato and Whipped Feta w/ Sweet and Hot Peppers (both normally $4). We quickly realized we better lay off the bread, so we demolished these tasty spreads by eating them directly off the plate with our utensils. Both were delicious.

The second course was the [special] appetizer we ordered Heirloom Tomato Napoleon layered w/ Whipped Spiced Feta on top of a Pistachio Crumb Crust ($13). All I can say is that I almost died when I tasted this. TOO good to describe. Our second course also included the tasting item, which was an Heirloom Tomato Kibbeh & Heirloom Tomato Dolma w/ Labne (normally $12). This was very good as well… but the special was better.

The third course was a Spinach Falafel, Tahini, Yogurt w/ Beets & Curly Cress (normally $10). This was hands down, the best falafel I have EVER tasted. Even if you do not normally like falafel, you need to try this.

For the next course came the second appetizer we ordered, the Grilled Octopus with Spicy Sicilian-style Bread Salad & Cauliflower (normally $12). The presentation of this meal was beautiful and the taste was superb. It was SO good. Dan enjoyed it’s meatiness and while I generally find octopus a bit too chewy for my liking, the taste of this dish was so good, that I found myself picking out and hording all the octopus pieces! The fourth tasting menu item was a Homemade Flatbread topped with Green Beans, Greens, Pickled Green Tomatoes and a Greek Yogurt Sauce (not on the menu). This was particularly tasty as well.

Our fifth and final course — and I tell you, I have NO idea how we even ate ANY of this b/c we were so full — was Ricotta & Bread Dumplings w/ Red Wine, Porcini Mushrooms & Kale (normally $15). This dish was savory, rich and scrumptious.

Even though we thought we couldn’t do it, we were able to down the final dish… dessert. The pastry chef makes all her own ice cream and all the desserts focus on various (and creative) ice cream concoctions. The one chosen for the tasting menu last night was a Nougat Glace with Melon Granite in Lemon Verbena Syrup (normally $12). Very fresh tasting… and very good. To me, it tasted like a fine soap smells. Floral, clean, sweet… A perfect end to a perfect dinner.

Oleana in Cambridge

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