Oleana has been on my “Restaurant To Do List” for quite some time now. I rarely venture into Cambridge (which needs to change), but I’m glad visited Inman Square on Monday night. Even though I’d never been to a Turkish restaurant, I knew I wouldn’t have an issue with the menu since I love mostly anything Mediterranean. Chef/Owner Ana Sortun has created a charming patio with a back yard feel, accented with sophisticated soap stone tables and wrought iron chairs.
Bread: Served in a small rounded wooden bowl, there were 2 types to choose from: a perfectly salted Focaccia, and a crunchy-on-the-outside slice of a white loaf. Both were a great match for our order of hummus.
Menu: If it wasn’t for the glossary at the bottom of the menu describing certain items, I would have been completely lost (Taramosalata: smooth puree with fish roe – yikes!). It took me a while to decide if I should share a Meze (a “small plate”) with the table and then have an entrée, or if I should order 2 smaller plates as my meal. There were too many Mezes to choose from! We were already ordering the Warm Buttered Hummus with Basturma (cured beer with spices) & Tomato for the table, and I just couldn’t pass up the Spinach Falafel with Tahini, Yogurt, Beets & Cress (as suggested by my best friend who has tried it before & raved about it). For my 2nd Meze I chose the Sultan’s Delight: Tamarind Glazed Beer & Smokey Eggplant Puree with Pinenuts.
Presentation: The hummus came in 2 small scoops – one wrap in Basturma, one not (for the veggie at the table!). It didn’t come with bread, but I spread it on the pieces we received in the bread basket – smooth & flavorful! My friend however took a different approach: fork, hummus, mouth (which was just as good). The falafel came in 3 pieces: strip of pita, beet spread, falafel topped with yogurt, slice of cucumber, side of cress. I was instructed by the server to wrap each falafel in its own pita and eat away. My fear in ordering falafel is that it will be too dry, but this was just the opposite. The glazed beef was so tender you barely need a knife, and the eggplant puree complimented the tamarind nicely.
Bathroom: Tiny but creative! The wall above the sink consisted of bright colored tiles – some of the tiles were mirrors which were scattered sporadically.
Wait Staff: Our waitress was well educated on the menu and the night’s specials. It’s always impressive when they can announce the meal, side dishes, accompaniments, and price without looking at a cheat sheet. Also, my water glass was constantly being filled, which was a huge + considering these hot summer days & nights!
Overall: While the menu resembled that of a tappas restaurant (they have 18 Meze and 8 Entrees of fish or meat), I was not deterred! They had a couple entrée specials that sounded amazing as well. A successful evening. When I return I’ll save room for the Sicilian Almond Cremolata & Warm Chocolate Panino.
The Perfect Bite: Pita, falafel, beet spread, yogurt, cucumber, cress. An incredible combination.