Purely Restaurants: Oleana
Meet Ana Sortun, chef and owner of Cambridge restaurant, Oleana. Sortun’s culinary inspiration for Oleana is derived from a trip to Turkey 15 years ago, during which she fell in love with the Eastern Mediterranean cuisine, with its rich flavors and spices. In her cooking, Sortun emphasizes using lots of fresh, organic vegetables, which she hopes will “(become) more and more like medicine”. Oleana locally sources all of its organic produce from Siena Farms, a farm owned by Ana’s husband, Chris Kurth. Here Ana shares with us her philosophy on eating healthy and gives us a peek into her intimate Cambridge restaurant.
What is your philosophy on eating healthy? Vegetables, vegetables, vegetables….esp from an organic farm. If you start each meal with lots of vegetables, you will need less animal protein, cheese or dairy to become satiated. This happens to be the Turkish style of dining and something I learned from studying that cuisine. I always fantasize each year when my husband reconciles his farming business at the end of the year that vegetables are becoming more and more like medicine—so maybe farmers will be like doctors soon. Prescribing kale, carrots and tomatoes in place of pills!
How would you describe the restaurant’s atmosphere? Oleana is a small, casual neighborhood restaurant in the middle of Cambridge. Small tables, gas fireplace, kilims on the walls and a small wine bar. Big outdoor garden in the summer with a porch that opens completely.
What inspired the restaurant’s cuisine? I went to Turkey for the first time 15 years ago to study with two women and learn their cuisine. I fell in love with the culture and the food and it’s been a study ever since. It’s a cuisine that centers on many different vegetable preparations as well as meat and fish. It’s a cuisine that uses spices to enrich food and bring depth to each dish without any heaviness.
What is a must order menu item? Falafel—it’s not the typical falafel. It’s soft, full of spinach and chick peas and is spiced just like the traditional falafel but it’s light and creamy.
Are there gluten-free or vegan options? Yes, we have a lot of options for those with food restrictions. Our menu is interpretive and traditional with a large selection of mezze dishes and a smaller selection of meat and fish.
What do you hope people take away from your restaurant? A sense of how spices are used in the Mediterranean and a broader exposure to the foods of the Middle East. A feeling of being full and satisfied without feeling bad from food that is too rich.
What’s next? A mezze restaurant and bar in Somerville to open later this year.Oleana 134 Hampshire Street, Cambridge, MA 617 661.0505 firstname.lastname@example.org