Part of me hates writing this post as it is already difficult to get a table at Oleana and I selfishly don’t want more people to discover just how wonderful the food is. But I just can’t contain my excitement and love for this place.
Disclaimer: all opinions are my own. I was not invited or compensated by Oleana for this review.
I first went to Oleana last year to celebrate my dad’s birthday. All I knew about the place was that it has consistently been named one of the best restaurants in the Boston/Cambridge area and that if you go in the summer it’s worth waiting a few extra minutes to get a spot outside. While I’m not sure if this summer has just been especially busy for Oleana, but when I was looking into making reservations earlier in the summer for my parents visit in June the place was booked straight through August. So if you plan on going on a weekend night, I highly recommend you book ASAP and be willing to wait a few weeks (or even a couple months). But trust me, it is so worth it.
Opened in 2001, Oleana’s chef Ana Sortune has been turning out consistently inventive and perfectly flavored Turkish and Eastern Mediterranean dishes for 15 years in the small, but beautiful Innman Square location. While the inside of the restaurant is elegantly warm, I highly recommend sitting in their award-winning patio. With water features, herb gardens, and fig trees, the patio feels incredibly intimate, as if you are on vacation and visiting at someone’s house. There are also heat lamps, so I imagine it is pleasant in the Fall and Spring as well.
One of the best tips I can give is to share. The bulk of the menu is Meze (sharing plates) with a few entrees as well. Every item is so intricate with flavors and textures that it is in your best interest to try as many things as possible. For the four of us, we ended up splitting 7 Meze plates and 1 entree, and it was the perfect amount of food. While I haven’t gotten dessert here, Oleana’s pastry chef is well known, with her specialty actually being in infused ice creams. So if you’re hoping to end the night with something sweet, you may want to order one less savory item to make room for dessert.
Okay, so on to the food!
6: Sultan’s Delight – Tamarind Beef, Smokey Eggplant Puree, and Pine nuts. This was Bry’s favorite dish of the night. Imagine the most moist, slow cooked braised short rib, but even more buttery/melt-in-your-mouth. Plus the sauce is just so savory and, well, meaty. I can easily understand why so many people recommend this one!
7: Vermont Quail kebob, Baharat Spice, Barberries, and Pistachio. Now this one was by far my favorite! I’m a sucker for anything citrus-y and the barberries in this give the perfect acidity to the more salty, savory quail and pistachios. I easy could have just eaten an entree-sized portion of this and been very happy.
8: Scallops, Fairy Tale Eggplant, Corn Cous Cous, Dukkah. While this is techinally an entree, I highly recommend ordering it as a shared plate. Not just so that you can try out more dishes, but also because this was rich! The scallops were perfectly cooked and not at all rubbery inside, the eggplant cooked down so much it just fell apart, and the corn cous cous was so creamy and reminiscent of creamed corn (but much more interesting in flavor).
Here’s a toast to a neighborhood gem than never disappoints!
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