Olea, New Haven

It was a cold, dark January night….(yup, I’ve always wanted to start a paragraph with that!), but that’s exactly how it was when we stepped into Olea on High Street, a freshly renovated space that manages to be both modern and cozy (not the easiest thing to pull off). Oversized white lanterns hang over polished wood tables, banquettes nestle against white brick walls in a soothing, neutral color scheme. Fans of Ibiza will recognize Chef and co-owner, Manuel Romero’s take on Spanish and Mediterranean dishes, but Olea is something different…more experimental and refined. We were off to a very good start with a teeny bite of an airy Spanish omelette for amuse bouche, while our waitress took our gluttonous order with a bemused smile. Flash-fried Shishito peppers, of course, salty and irresistible (until you discover the single searing hot one in the pile), then a stunning riff on a miniature breakfast sandwich: a single quail egg atop chorizo, next up: a pile of fresh-off-the-boat calamari on a bed of greens. And that was just for starters. My entree of roasted sea bass, dusted with crisped quinoa, and served on a cauliflower puree was downright inspired. The puree had the richness of cream sauce without the heft, and plated with fingerlings and blistered grape tomatoes, it was a brilliant dish. My husband, who eschews words like fabulous, used exactly that to describe a perfectly rare, crackly-skinned duck breast. We tried but failed to skip dessert, a chef’s tasting of flan in a puddle of caramel, airy chocolate mousse, rosemary ice cream and an ethereal bread pudding. On a night when we needed something more than sustenance, we found it at Olea. www.oleanewhaven.com
Pre and post-theater three-course prix fixe $34, and tapas available at the bar. More photos here. 

olea new haven

tags: olea, new haven, restaurant