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5/2/11 Oleana: Amazing Arabic in Cambridge

Hey! This is a little late, I realize, but I just stumbled upon this thread. Just want to let you know -- Ana's not of Turkish ancestry. Or Mediterranean or Middle-Eastern. She's of Norwegian descent (her full name, Oleanne, means "promised land" or "heaven" in Norwegian). And she's from Seattle. This is an oft-made mistake, since her last name's uncommon. Hope that clarifies things for the future.

paris for 7 days. where to eat?

i'm heading to paris solo for 7 days in july. where should i eat? i'm open to pretty much everything as long as it's fresh, thoughtful, and delicious. holes-in-the-walls, cafes, markets, patisseries, uber-chic places, whatever. tell me where to go!

Jun 28, 2009
perpetual waitress in France

the friendly toast opening in cambridge!

My pops just forwarded me an article about the Friendly Toast (of Portsmouth, NH fame) opening a new location at One Kendall here in Cambridge. As someone who will often rally her fellow waitstaff on a Monday morning to make the drive up the coast for some post-weekend munching and moaning, I could not be happier. My hope: It'll rock as much as the original and pick up some of the old B Side vibe (full bar!). My fear: It'll be a watered-down version of the flagship's funk. Anyone else have fond Friendly Toast memories? Favorite dishes? Thoughts?

daughter's 21st birthday

My vote would be for No. 9 Park as well. They have a phenomenal tasting menu (and what's more special and pampered than a tasting menu?) and some of the best bartenders in town if she wants to try her first real martini/cosmo/whatever. Plus, you can tell her that the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow and Ben Affleck eat there all the time, which should make her feel pretty special. Troquet IS great, but the crowd always seems heavy on the financial district-ers after work to me. Not so fun for a 21 year-old or her sister. Also, Barbara Lynch (the chef and owner) is a successful model for young women everywhere.

help! hip/fun japanese to treat a friend to?

My friend lives in the Hollywood area. I should mention also that I'd prefer to support a chef-owned restaurant, or a place not owned by one of the big restaurant groups, if possible.

help! hip/fun japanese to treat a friend to?

I'm flying out from Boston on Thursday to visit a friend for a few days. She's going through a tough time and I'd like to take her out for a great dinner. I know nothing --NOTHING-- about the LA culinary scene. We're both in our mid-20s and I'm a mega foodie, so some place that's hip (not necessarily trendy, but not stuffy, i guess?) and fun that has awesome food, service, and atmosphere would be ideal. I just want her to feel totally taken care of and relaxed for one night! As a means of comparison, restaurants I've been to and loved on the same plane as what I'm looking for are Ame in San Francisco and O Ya here in Boston. Money is not a concern. Help!

Where are the bad La Voile and Angela's reviews?

i agree with both of you; given the previous rave reviews, my guess is that order would be restored if you visited again sometime soon (though i just heard another sub-par account from a friend, but i'm not sure i trust her judgment entirely).

i do maintain my wish for some sort of information about what was going on in the kitchen at some point during the meltdown. it's always better to let your tables know that things won't be going as excpected and attempt to accomodate them than to smile through gritted teeth and hope no one pulls a walk out on you...

Where are the bad La Voile and Angela's reviews?

Here's a review I wrote for La Voile's New Year's Eve prix fix dinner originally posted on Yelp:

La Voile has the honor of being the only restaurant to actually make me sad. I am a happy lassie, but the prix fix dinner I had here to celebrate New Year's Eve/my birthday was horrendous enough to disappoint me to the point of actual melancholy.

I made a reservation here a week or so in advance for New Year's Eve, which also happens to be my birthday. We arrived at 9:30 and were seated immediately. I did get really excited when I noticed that the knives were Laguiole, bumblebee and all, but that's about where the good impression ended. The only way to describe the madness that ensued is in chronological order:

9:45 - Someone finally comes over to ask about water/wine. Though the list is fairly extensive, they don't offer half bottles of anything and only 4 or 5 glasses of things I wouldn't want to drink anyway (Chardonnay, Merlot). We ask for still water and I ask for a recommendation on the wine. The waiter holds up his finger and runs away. Huh.

10:00 - We get our amuse bouche trio. A nice, buttery goose mousse with green apple on puff pastry, bland, lightly fried choux pastry with chervil, and... mozzarella, tomatoes and pesto on a baguette? Is it July? Am I not in a french restaurant? Also, can we please have some water? I'm really thirsty.

10:20 - Bonne soiree, it's the sommelier! I ask which wines he'd recommend and he just says, "Champagne!" and points to a mid-range bottle I've never heard of. I say I was thinking more along the lines of a Pinot Noir. He looks at me and blinks, still pointing to the Champagne. I consider switching to french but don't want to insult his comprehension of English. I wait for some kind of description or info about the Champagne. He blinks again and I realize it ain't coming. I finally just shrug and agree. Do I want to drink Champagne through 7 courses? Not really, but hey, it's New Year's Eve! It's my birthday! I can totally roll with it. We'd still really like some water, though. Thanks

10:30 - The folks next to us get their first course. Hey, weren't they seated at 10:00? What's the deal, yo?

10:45 - Course #1 arrives an hour and fifteen minutes after we're seated. Salmon three ways. The "rillette" was, well... not. 'Twas salmon salad, a la mayonnaise. Bland, oddly lukewarm, and full of red onion. Yuck. Then there was a slab of smoked salmon flopped on top of some arugula dressed with lemon juice and finally what appeared to be a spoonful of marinated salmon tartare mixed with some shallots and more chervil. All of this was served with... toasted Wonderbread sliced into two triangles. I kid you not. Shocking.

10:55 - Oh, look, a sliced baguette. Hey, and here's a bottle of Evian. Terrific.

11:20 - The champagne arrives. It's fine, though a little sweet for my taste. Hmmm... the table seated at 10:00 has already gotten through half a bottle of wine and is on to the third course. This takes a little bubbly out of my bubbly, if you know what I mean.

11:30 - The "brandy sorbet" arrives. Brandy sorbet, you say? Frozen brandy raked with a fork I say. Served in a mug. Weird.

11:35 - I ask if we can just skip the 3rd course. From what I can tell from other tables, it's sea bass, it's plated terribly, it seems to be a WHOLE filet, and it's not getting good reactions. Plus, it's effing late.

11:45 - It's been over two hours, we've had a total of 3 of 7 courses, and I realize there is no way in hell I'm going to get to see the fireworks, an event I anticipate beginning sometime in November. I decide to do the obnoxious thing and bust out the pissy french to the waiter. Translation: This sucks, you've ruined my birthday, get us out of here. He asks if we want the remaining courses to go. I say no, no, just the check.

11:50 - The 4th course is set down in front of us. I resist a major freakout and try it. It's a medium-rare filet mignon served with an absurd amount of foie gras, oily, oily green beans and an incredibly salty demi glace. The plating is awkward, the flavor profiles are anything but harmonious, and the grease is overwhelming. This course solidifies La Voile's nod to ill-conceived banquet fare in my mind.

12:00 - Happy New Year. Still waiting for the check.

12:20 - The check arrives, along with the remaining courses, packed up to go. Grr. We leave cash, get up and go over to the coat check area to find the coat checker making time with some dude at the bar. Super. I wander around until I find the coat closet, burrow inside until I find our coats, consider the fact that I could walk out with whatever I want in there, don't, and leave.

Here's the thing about all of this. I've worked in restaurants for most of my life. Things can go terribly wrong and you have bad nights. This all would have been cool with me if someone had let us know what the hell was going on at any point in the evening. The only evidence I have of this being an off-night for them was the conversation I walked into in the bathroom hallway between the owner and his wife: "Everything is fucked!" he was yelling in french. She just shrugged and smiled at me. Thanks, lady. Did I mention it's my birthday?