After a day of seeing the sights Boston has to offer, we were back around Harvard to try a Mediterranean restaurant that had been recommended to us by a colleague who worked in Boston for a year. On approach it was hard to spot, reminding me in a sense of the last time we ate near a famous US College at Chez Panisse.
Oleana has a neighborhood feel and once you are inside that comfort extends to the warmth of the room, both in literal and figurative terms. We were seated at a table in the main dining room and our waitperson explained the sharing nature of the menu, recommending a quantity of four to six dishes. From the start to the finish service was articulate and attentive with a manner that sat well with the convivial nature of the restaurant.
The first dish we shared set the scene for some terrific combinations of Mediterranean flavours, focussing on ingredients most seen in Greece. The Apple Fotoush salad was beautifully dressed with a burst of pomegranate in most mouthfuls. The ingredients including cos (Romaine) and beets were all cut nice and small to make it possible to combine the ingredients which were all fresh and vibrant, with a crunch from the crisp pita.
Next came the moussaka which had several points of difference to the norm. The eggplant layering the bottom presented as babaganoush, and crisp brussel sprouts topping the other ingredients. Fried mussels rounded out our smaller plates. They were nicely cooked, but lacked the zing of the other starters. The Turkish tarator sauce was delicious though.
In preparation for dessert we only shared one larger plate which was the duck shish with figs, beets, smoked wheat pilav and walnuts. It was a terrific amount of food and huge in flavour. Whilst contemporary, there was the inevitable thought back to places like Santorini, though unfortunately I didn’t see any duck going around the Caldera!
After such a good savoury experience we had to try dessert and one each for that matter. Catherine chose best with the “Saffron Zoulbia, Sekel Pear, Pomegranate Sorbet & Pistachios” which was a delicious combination of Middle Eastern flavours. My almond cremolata, chocolate panino and cocoa nib granola was restrained, with the almond cremolata a little dull, but the technique behind the pastry was executed with skill and my menu envy negated a little.
Full on a Monday night, with several larger groups, you could tell this is a constantly customed venue. As the wine from a good list flowed, the atmosphere grew, and everyone was satisfied and happy. Oleana is a great restaurant in a city reputed for its food and the chefs are dishing up innovative Meditteranean cuisine that speaks of its origins.