Mar 2, 2009

oleana

finally, after 7 years, i found someone willing to go to oleana with me last saturday night. (and it's quite nice, by the way, to find another eater in cambridge. i thought they'd all left for the west coast, but someone new showed up--thx hrt). service, though a distinctly secondary consideration, was competent, brisk, cheerful, and not servile, and the bread on the table was excellent and warm (sweet baguette and another one, za'atar-dusted, olive-oily, focaccia-like)--so oleana was already way ahead of the game. the order:

  • goat cheese beignets with beet and orange carpaccio and beet sorbet. freshly fried and deflating gently on the plate. i tried to cut the first one and caused it to collapse completely. the second one expired whole in my mouth. the red beet sorbet was surprisingly good.
  • swordfish steak with syrian lentils, fried pita, and tahini. the fish was good, but the lentils were remarkable. there was a slightly musky sweetness (we think it comes from pomegranate molasses) and onions sauteed to the point of liquidity (but not quite).
  • lamb steak with fava bean moussaka. the lamb was good and perfectly-cooked, but the moussaka was, again, remarkable. instead of the usual slab cut from a tray, this moussaka was made as a single portion with not much bechamel, then wrapped in a layer of grilled eggplant.
  • toffee date pudding, with dates, tangerine sections, orange cardamom ice-cream, and orange peel confit. (there's no way, in my mind, this combination of flavours can go wrong.)
obviously, the moussaka and the lentils stole the show. oleana reminds me of boulevard, a great restaurant in san francisco where also the accoutrements outshone the main dishes.

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