Discovering A Hidden Gem
Published: Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 21:02
Coffee and tea. Beer and wine. Gelato. Veggie burgers.
They are all served at the quaint, unassuming corner-cafe in Brookline Village by the name of Olea Cafe. Conveniently located right off the Brookline Village D-line T stop, the cafe opened on the corner of Washington and Station Street, replacing the former Sandwich Works. It doesn’t necessarily grab your attention the moment you walk by, but this adds to the eatery’s hole-in-the-wall charm. There is not anything stereotypically flashy or tacky about the above-door signage, but once it is found, it can’t be ignored.
The ambiance has a bit of European flare, adding charm and diversity. When coupled with its Mediterranean inspired menu, its quirky, unique appeal shines. The seating area is not too expansive, but there’s nothing tight or packed about Cafe Olea. It has an open floor plan and can accommodate enough people to create a relaxing place to dine. The vibe is one that invites diners to come, eat, relax for a bit, and then leave—as opposed to the stay-for-several-hours-to-do-homework feel of many coffee shops in the Boston area. The lack of free Wi-Fi supports this notion as well.
That doesn’t take away from Olea’s charm and appeal, however. This is just a different kind of place altogether—one that serves one of the best veggie burgers in Boston. Their self-titled Olea burger would have been great even with meat, but substituted with their organic vegetarian patty, it soared to new heights. The toasted bun added the perfect compliment to its inner components. Fluffy and light, it didn’t crumble or disintegrate when bitten into, and the texture was just the right mix of crispy and soft. There was nothing overwhelming that took the attention away from the burger. Instead, it helped to accentuate it further.
What really grabs the attention of the customer is what’s between the bread. The pesto, mozzarella, onions, and tomato all enhanced the burger’s flavors and sung together in near-perfect harmony. The spices melded together so well and the freshness was palpable. This revitalized and invigorated my palette, and while this sensory combination is most certainly not found everywhere, it’s sure to be savored when one finds it.
Served alone, the Olea burger begs for nothing more to accompany it besides your hunger, but a side of fries can be added too. Even if they were nothing to rave about, the medium-cut fries were cut well, appropriately crisped, and not overly doused in any oil. Overall, it was a nice, but still average side. Then again, nothing could have topped that veggie burger, so perhaps it is a bit unfair to compare a star with a rock.
Whatever the fries lacked was more than made up for by the warm and friendly service. Greeted with a smile, the woman behind the counter would answer any and all questions in the most sincerely happy tone, and her smile only further backed up her attitude.
The staff definitely had a “go the extra mile” mentality, as they would offer to refill a pot of tea with more water to get the most out of the leaves. This was as much a surprise as it was a very welcomed gesture.
Combining hospitality with unique flavors, quaint decor and affordable prices, Olea Cafe does something different among the mass of restaurants and cafes by which it is surrounded. Cafe Olea succeeds not only in standing out, but also by standing far above the rest.