Restaurants & Bars

Manhattan

OLA ( long review)

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OLA ( long review)

SJ | May 13, 2003 05:37 PM

Went to OLA last Fri. for dinner and, overall, had a very positive experience. We started with Caipirinhas which came on the dry side, exactly as ordered. Based on a previous chowhound rec.,we had the caramelized octopus with roasted onions, lima beans and lemon aioli. My husband loves octopus and absolutely loved this dish. I don't like octopus but was considering converting after several tastes. The citrus flavor and creamy texture of the aioli was a perfect balance for the sweet, and slightly chewy, octopus. We also had the Shrimp Fricasse soup which was superb! 2 kinds of incredibly sweet and tender shrimp (I believe both from Maine) in a tomato broth which had great character. The Cuban oregano, which impressed me as having both the sweetness of Mexican oregano and also the pungency that I associate more with Mediteranean oreganos, managed to prvovide great flavor without overpowering the delicate flavor of the shrimp. For entrees we had Grilled Tuna with Brandade, Crispy White Asparagus and Tomato Escabeche, and Seared Scallops with Catalan Spinach, Creamy Mushroom Croquettes and Roasted Pepper Salad. The Tuna and its accompaniments complimented each other beautifully in terms of texture. Unfortunately, a heavy hand with smoked paprika (and we love this ingredient) overwhelmed both of us by mid way through the dish. Nonetheless we ate all of it. The Seared Scallop dish was incredible- esp. the mushroom croquettes (a combo of porcini and button). We decided we would have been perfectly happy making a meal out of those alone. There is not one thing I would change with this dish. For dessert we had the Coffee Tres Leches, Vanilla Sponge Cake, Dulce de Leche Ice Cream, Chocolate Mousse etc. and the Pannacotta with Queso Ice Cream. The latter was billed as being completely sugar free which normally makes me run the other way but, in this case, was quite good. I've enjoyed Tres Leches in Mr. Rodriguez' restaurants and cookbooks before and, once again, was not disappointed. Be warned, however, this is not the dessert to order if you're "faint of heart" when it comes to the flavor of coffee. Re: nonfood related stuff: Service was very good- informed and friendly but not intrusive- unfortunately the kitchen seemed to be having a little bit of a problem keeping up; the place is loud but we were able, more or less, to carry on a conversation with only minimal instances of having to yell in order to be heard; the tables are surprisingly well spaced esp. by NYC standards. All in all, a great dining experience!

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