One of the things I missed most about moving from Prospect Hill to Magoun Square was being able to walk to literally dozens of terrific restaurants. So you can imagine my excitement when I heard that Ana Sortun, the woman behind Oleana and Sofra, was opening a new eatery in Winter Hill.
Sarma (249 Pearl St.) is tucked away in the former Paddock space, which has been completely transformed with tile floors, beautiful lighting and sleek wooden tables. Sarma has a full liquor license, unlike Oleana, and the space is centered around a large bar with a long communal table and other small tables filling in around it.
As with Oleana, reservations are highly recommended, if not necessary, at Sarma. We arrived on time for ours on a recent Friday night and still had to wait about 10 minutes to sit down, something I’ll chock up to the restaurant being new. Once seated the service was terrific and we quickly forgot the short delay.
Inspired by the flavors of the Mediterranean, the menu is designed around the idea of sharing lots of small plates. There’s also the option of picking up some additional items throughout the night as the chef sends out specials as they’re prepared and circulates them around the room.
We started the meal with one of the best dishes of the night, pumpkin fritters topped with a cilantro sauce. The zesty flavors truly made the dish sing and we knew we were in for a memorable meal. The fava bean paté with capers, red onion and a soft-cooked egg was texturally perfect and brightened by the addition of dill. The tuna nayeh (which was actually fluke the night we dined at Sarma) was so fresh and unlike any other crudo-type dish I’ve ever sampled.
The light, spicy feta sauce on the broccoli with smoked green wheat made the dish one of the night’s standouts. This contrasted pleasantly with the thick, tangy yogurt that topped the mushroom lamejun (sort of like a small flatbread). Next up were the Moroccan shrimp, which are not to be missed–lightly fried and served with kolhrabi and rice vermicelli noodles to be joined in lettuce wraps, they were outstanding. The lamb shish was cooked to perfection and beloved at the table.
The only dish that didn’t drive us wild was the kale and artichoke dip. While the presentation was beautiful, as with all of the plates, it lacked the pizzaz of the other selections. With so many incredible dishes to choose from, it’s no matter.
To drink throughout the evening we sampled some of the wine (loved that you could get lambrusco by the glass) and a few of the cocktails. The Xocula and the Apiary were well balanced with unique flavors that complemented the meal perfectly.
For dessert, Sarma offers frozen yogurt with a variety of toppings. We opted for the crumbled baklava, which was a lovely sweet contrast to the tart yogurt. And perhaps best of all was the large French press of freshly brewed coffee to sip and savor at the end of such a beautiful meal.