Oleana [Cambridge, Inman Square area]

I hate to overuse a cliché, and I know everyone who goes to Oleana isn’t from Cambridge, but the incident felt so Cambridge. It was decades ago.

A couple of months ago something similar almost happened at Sunday brunch at the hipster hangout Trina’s Starlite Lounge in Somerville. The brunch food there is quite good. The two of us were sitting at a small table next to a 6 top, where 6 people were already enjoying a rowdy, joyous brunch. We were just about to start eating our food when a 7th person, a young woman, joined the group and brushed the jacket she’d just taken off within a centimeter of the food and drinks on our table, then sat down and partially threw her jacket on me. We were seated within about a foot from each other by the front window, at different closely spaced tables.

She immediately started talking extremely loudly to catch up with the rest of the group and it took way too long for her to notice that I was trying to ask her to move her jacket off of me and to point out that she’d almost knocked over our drinks. She just shrugged her shoulders and looked at me quizzically as if I were a hybrid animal of some kind but she did move her jacket. We left soon afterward, as the noise was deafening.

I always wonder if people like this don’t know or don’t care because they are entitled and selfish. I tend to think more of the latter, but probably a bit of both. Unfortunately you are correct that this is not uncommon behavior in Cambridge and becoming more prevalent. I once had a woman shove me to get by when I was in line waiting in line at Darwin’s and then acted as if she had done nothing and I was insane.


Ah, Darwin’s. I used to work a block away from Darwin’s Mount Auburn St, again, decades ago, and the hipster scene there was…interesting. Probably even more enhanced now.

Once when I ordered a sandwich to go (decades ago) while coming in with an iced espresso from Peets, the hipster sandwich maker asked me why I was taking money away from Mr. Darwin, he needs it so much. I was shocked but replied, I come in here every day and you are complaining I don’t buy more? He didn’t reply and ignored me every time I came in afterwards.

I haven’t been back there in a long time, but the last time i went, it was clear that unless you are a regular you cannot understand how the sandwich ordering system works. Where to stand to place order (which line to wait in), when you pay, where you stand while you wait after placing your order, do you have to go over to the other side to get certain coffee drinks, etc.

I hope it’s clearer now. I always did like their sandwiches, soups, etc. But not worth the scene.

They did back in the day sell the T-shirts: “02138 Most Opinionated Zip Code in the US.”


We’ve had scattered discussion here and there recently of Oleana, baked Alaska, and the fabled photo of Sortun&co. When I’ve the time, I’ll link to those here (but help would be welcome).

Meanwhile, since I’ve cunningly chosen my Manhattan abode to lie close to mainstream theater in one direction, very off-off-off broadway shows in attics and disused churches in another, and that fabled temple of spices, La Boite, two blocks away, I offer you this:

Oleana anyone? (And what an unattractive copy.)


We love the tuna deviled eggs at Oleana. And I enjoy the La Boite cookbooks. I’d love to visit both soon, but NYC isn’t going to happen soon.


As promised above, I’m linking to another discussion that has a lot of Oleana-related stuff in it, starting here:

And speaking of baked alaska (un-Oleana related):

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You’ll be pleased by this quote from J. Kenji Lopez-Alt:
“If you’re feeling flush, you could add a copious amount of extra-virgin olive oil emulsified into the tuna salad with a fork, an idea from the chef Ana Sortun, who folds tuna and olive oil into the stuffing of what are possibly the greatest deviled eggs in existence at her Boston restaurant, Oleana.”

It’s from


We finally had our long-awaited dinner here a few weeks back, and the inclusion of the Baked Alaska on eater boston’s 25 iconic dishes recent list reminded me I needed to post about it.

I’m keeping it brief in the interest of time, and because Oleana is far from a hidden secret that needs more praise. Suffice it to say, the Baked Alaska IS all it’s cracked up to be, and we had some happy onions and sprouts!


Just in case people have been wondering, Oleana continues to fire on all cylinders. The deviled eggs, sultan’s delight (aka, from the very olden Casablanca days – see above – “Ana’s Short Rib”), etc., are just as superb as they’ve been for two decades. But new things pop up and they make subtle variations on the old. A new dish on Sunday, simply called carrots, was a stunner – perfectly cooked Goldilockian carrots – not too hard, not too soft – sprinkled with sesame seeds and za’atar.

It’s unfair to pin this on Oleana alone, but I’m still reeling from the sticker shock of eating out these days. The Sunday dinner for 4 at Oleana came to $270+ before tip. A very similar meal last year for 5 was $50 less. The deviled eggs have gone from $6/egg in 2020 to $9 in 2023 (and, yes, I know the ridiculous price of eggs these days).


I almost never eat beef. However, the Sultan’s Delight at Oleana is my favorite beef dish ever, and I crave those deviled eggs with confit tuna! We got the topik once for take out and it was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten though it sounds relatively simple: Stuffed Potato Hummus, Pine Nuts, Currants, Tahini, Cucumber. We also tried the baked alaska for the first time with that take out order.

Fried mussels and spinach falafel are other long time favorites. The black lentil kushary sounds amazing and this sounds quite intriguing: Apple & Delicata Salad, Pickled Red Onion, Ararat Dressing, Crispy Markouk.

So thanks for your report, which reminds me that we have a landmark anniversary coming up and it’s time to go to Oleana!


I was wondering. So thank you. :blush:


Both of those are staples for us, too.

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My wife and I just spent a week in Boston, followed by a week in Manhattan. I can’t say that I was shocked, but I was certainly surprised at how much higher restaurant prices were than a year ago.

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May I request an account of your eating while here, its own thread? (Sorry if I’ve missed anything if you’ve already posted.) We always learn from our visitors.

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I just saw an episode of Milk Street with Christopher Kimball that featured this restaurant. Some interesting food stuffs!

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Thanks for the tip. The launching pad is this, but you seem to need to subscribe to go much further:

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Yes, part of the plan with him, ATK and Cook’s Country. Pay to play, they gotta earn their money somehow.

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At the bottom of the weekly Boston Globe recipes from Milk Street/Christopher Kimball is this notice. Of course, not helpful if you are not a Boston Globe subscriber.
“Christopher Kimball is the founder of Milk Street, home to a magazine, school, and radio and television shows. Globe readers get 12 weeks of complete digital access, plus two issues of Milk Street print magazine, for just $1. Go to 177milkstreet.com/globe. Send comments to magazine@globe.com.”


And on the show, the hosts always reference their website for ‘this recipe and more’, but do not say it is free. I subscribed to his mag when it first came out (a charter membership, no less) and it was okay until renewal time came up and then I decided it wasn’t worth it.

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Same thing for me, both for ATK when he was there and the Milk St. site. Both seemed big, confusing marketing schemes, which is one of the reasons I lost respect for him. His recipes from Milk Street in the Globe seem slightly more complex and interesting, but I can usually kind more complex and interesting recipes for the same dish elsewhere.

I prefer complex and interesting and freeze leftovers that aren’t eaten a few days! Otherwise I’m good with really fast and easy I improvise.

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