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“Excellent food in Inman Square”
Review of Oleana

Oleana
Ranked #1 of 627 Restaurants in Cambridge
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $41 - $80
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Romantic, Special occasions
Dining options: Dinner, Late Night, Full Bar, Highchairs Available, Outdoor Seating, Reservations, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Waitstaff, Wheelchair Accessible
Dining style: Casual Elegant
Cross street: Btw. Prospect & Columbia
Boston, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
38 reviews
33 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
“Excellent food in Inman Square”
Reviewed February 3, 2013

We ate at Oleana for the first time last night. I don't like to review restaurants based on a single visit, but it was hard enough to get reservations that it may be a while before we get back.

This is clearly one of the top restaurants in Cambridge, and probably the best one serving non-American/non-European food. The cuisine is mostly Turkish, with wonderful spiced dishes and aromas.

The space is nice but tightly packed. I was seated facing toward a wall that was long enough that really there was nothing to see other than the wall without swiveling my head. Other tables were close, but the noise level was low enough that it was possible to talk and be heard, yet loud enough that conversation across the table felt reasonably private.

Our server was great. We asked for recommendations and he was happy to make suggestions, all of which were excellent. We also had a number of questions about the food that he got answers to after checking with the kitchen.

We were given three kinds of bread (pita, a white bread, and some near cubes of bread that I did not recognize but were very good and much softer than they looked), served with olive oil.

For appetizers, we had quail kebab which was very good, and tamarind-glazed beef and eggplant that was wonderful.

For main dishes, we had scallops with a butternut squash crispy pie that was also wonderful, and a striped bass special that was very good except that the fishy taste of the bass didn't work all that well with the spices.

There is a recent comment on TripAdvisor that the food was too salty to eat, and this had me concerned as I've felt like a lot of restaurants are oversalting things lately. However, while there were many spices and tastes mixed together, I did not find things to be overly salty and thought the level of spice was exactly right.

For dessert we had Turkish-style profiteroles that are served with warm salep, a drink made from orchid root (one of our questions for our server was about this). You sip the salep along with the profiteroles. This was different and all very tasty. We also got the tangerine caramel parfait with a chocolate tart and Aleppo honeycomb (the Aleppo chili was another question). This was very good, but not as exciting as it sounded.

Overall it was a really great meal. It was also quite an expensive meal with glasses of wine at $13 each and all the dishes several dollars more than you might see at comparably good restaurants in the area. That said, we will definitely be back.

  • Visited February 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank David R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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624 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
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    14
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Hebrew first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
Boston, MA
Level Contributor
14 reviews
6 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Fun food, excellent place”
Reviewed January 24, 2013

Went for my 25th birthday dinner. Great wine list, inventive, delicious food, good service. Highly recommended.

  • Visited November 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank hfeinberg87
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Philadelphia
Level Contributor
8 reviews
3 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“amazing food”
Reviewed January 23, 2013

can not wait to go back .......amazing food, exquisitely presented, charming restaurant......tables close to each other ...with friendly people to chat with....about how wonderful this restaurant is.

Visited January 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank retatt
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cambridge, Ma
Level Contributor
59 reviews
45 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“a garden delight”
Reviewed January 11, 2013

A Garden Delight. Besides the great original dishes served, they have one of the top outdoor dining experiences. A lovely spot in Summer. If it's chilly there are heated lamps ans throws for your lap. Unfortunately they don't take reservations foe eating in the garden.

  • Visited August 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank cigalechanta
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Boston, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
8 reviews
6 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“I Really Wanted to Like this Restaurant”
Reviewed January 10, 2013

We had reservations at 5:30pm on a Sunday. The restaurant opens at 5:30pm so I was resolved to be understanding if people weren't quite ready at 5:30pm on the spot. The doors opened exactly on time and we were seated without delay. I will just take the time right here to say that the service was top notch from beginning to end. Our server greeted us and had our drinks on the table within the first 5 minutues. Though it was 5:30 and the restaurant was all but empty, the hostess sat another table directly beside us. Now this normally would not be a problem, but there were about 15 inches maximum between the two top tables squeezed together along the wall. These guests were part of our dinner whether we liked it or not as we could even hear them breathing while the restaurant was empty and the conversation lapsed. Very awkward. The starters were okay, though a bit over-seasoned (even the bread had salt crystals on top), but we were able to finish them. Unfortunately the over-seasoned trend continued throughout the meal. I was unable to finish my lamb main because it was so salty. Speaking of mains...there were no vegetarian options which was quite disappointing. Nearing the end of our experience the restaurant started to fill up so our neighbors weren't quite so obvious, but at that point with the atmosphere and the over-seasoned food we were done and didn't stay for dessert. Again, my compliments to the service. We wanted for nothing and were attended to without fail.

  • Visited January 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank Tristan B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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