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Aroma, Georgia Avenue in Olney - Closed

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We decided to try Aroma last night. It was early, about 5:30 on a Sunday night and the place wasn't very busy. Aroma is in the old Bella Nolte space, and they've done a great job renovating the place. It is done in creams and browns with burnt orange. Very modern and clean. There is a bar now too. The music may have been a little loud, but not so much you couldn't converse (a mix of techo-Latin to begin, and later that evening more traditional, although some Gypsy Kings were in the mix too.)

Dinner was very good. The three of use shared the Cebiche Nikkey, ahi tuna, fresh avocados, ginger and scallions cooked in lime juice and soy sauce. It was beautifully presented and tasted delicious. I wish it had been larger, but ahi tuna is not cheap. We also shared a couple of tapas, the Calamares, breaded calamari strings served with a basil aioli. The calamari was ok, but nothing special, but the basil aioli was fantastic. We also had the Camarones a la Sarten, shrimp, roasted shallot, garlic, green olives and aji Amarillo cooked in a hot wok with olive oil. It was excellent. Finally we had the Hongo Portobello, a baked portobello mushroom in balsamic vinegar and Pisco reduction with roasted red peppers, manchego cheese and baby spinach. Again, excellent.

For our entrees I ordered the Pescado Chino-Latino, a pan-seared rockfish fillet served over a large mound of Peruvian fried rice and Asian criolla sauce. I loved it, the rockfish was cooked perfectly and the fried rice was moist and flavorful and each mouthful was a delight. My wife had the Salmon a la Parrilla, grilled Chilean salmon with quinoa tabbouleh, avocado and salsa ciolla. She also thought it was cooked perfectly and presented beautifully. The avocado was just the right ripeness, creamy and flavorful. My son had the Parrilla China, slowly cooked pork belly served with sauteed potatoes in an Asian BBQ sauce. You have to love pork belly to appreciate this dish (and he does) but it was excellent (if not on my diet so I only had a small bite). It was also huge.

Dessert was the only disappointment. We ordered two to split between the three of us, first a fairly good Cafe-almond kiss, a sugar free (Splenda) rich decaf coffe-almonds tarta served with coffe-frangelico cream. It was good, and considering it was sugar free, even more so. However, the Tres Leches was a major disappointment. The "sponge cake" was hard, dry and heavy. It was sitting in a pool of tres leches with a little orange liquour. My son had ordered it because he loves Tres Leches, but didn't even finish it. I won't judge them by it alone, but next time will know not to order it.

On Sundays they have a special, each couple that spends $50 on food gets a bottle of wine for $5.

The wine list is nothing to write home about, but this is Montgomery County. Ten reds and 4 whites, all from Chile or Argentina, all relatively ordinary but not at all bad. The all cost between $26 and $29 with the exception of a Malbec for $34. By the glass they are $7 or $8. We took advantage of the Sunday special and had a 2008 Santa Julia Organica Torrontes. It wasn't bad, and for $5, you couldn't beat it (Normally $27 on the list)

They also have a long list of mixed drinks that are priced at $8 ($5 on Wednesdays)

Tapas and Cebiches ran from &6.95 to $9.95. Entrees ranged from $16.95 to $19.95(the whole rockfish baked in a dome of salt) On Mondays, all entrees are $12. Desserts were $6.

Bottom line - This is a place that Olney needs, a real white tablecloth restaurant. Service was friendly, knowledgeable and efficient. We will definitely be back often and recommend it to anyone in the area.

One last thought. My son decided to take some of his pork belly home and the container they gave him to take it in was made from recycled paper, not styrafoam, a nice touch of green I thought.

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