Their website describes L’andana as “an elegant interpretation of a Tuscan farmhouse,” but it felt too modern and cavernous for that description. Nevertheless, it’s a lovely space, especially for a romantic, special occasion meal.
My dining companion and I started with the famed Bolognese, but wait, this evening’s offering was a lamb Bolognese, not their classic version! “The chef likes to vary the menu, seasonally,” our server explained. I was disappointed and suspicious of the change, but for the Flog, I had to keep calm and carry on eating. Luckily, the lamb version was excellent; it was meaty, silky, tender and bursting with robust flavor. The homemade garganelli (a tubular shaped pasta) was a perfect match with the sauce. They offer it as appetizer or entrée ($16/$26). This is the first Bolognese I’ve had in a long time that I wasn’t disappointed by. I am pleased that it was made with lamb, because now I don’t have to decide which is better, this or Sweet Basil’s rendition. I can say they are both excellent in their own way.
Next, we had the four cheese fonduta, which came in a searingly hot cast iron pan accompanied with a basket of grilled rustic bread. We dunked the bread in to the volcanically bubbling cheese scented with roasted garlic. It was delicious, but it’s hard to go wrong with melty cheese.
The rib eye ($48) is grass-fed and from Painted Hills, a ranch in Oregon. It was cooked perfectly – a nice dark sear with rosy medium rare interior. It was tender, but lacked the beefy flavor that the dry aging process offers (they don’t have any dry –aged beef on the menu). I appreciate that it came with sides; too often at steakhouses the sides are ala carte and you don’t think about the fact you have spent $6 on a potato. The steak came with small salt baked potatoes and delicious grilled romaine topped with Gorgonzola. I ordered a side of broccoli rabe ($7). It was oily, but had a nice spicy kick to it.
Dessert is where the meal took a nose dive. They have a salted caramel panna cotta ($10), which is literally a combination of my two favorite desserts. It should have been an easy win. But as soon as it was placed in front of me, I knew something was wrong. It was left to set in a deep plate, covered in the caramel syrup. The texture of the panna cotta was wrong – it didn’t have the smooth, creamy, silky mouth feel. The syrup was too light in color; they did not let sugar caramelize enough and as a result it was cloyingly sweet. I took 2 spoonfuls and I was done. My dining companion attempted to order the vanilla bean donut rounds ($10) but failed, so he had the molten chocolate cake ($10). It was slightly over baked, but had decent chocolate flavor.
Our server was attentive and was mortified when I pointed out a fly was taking a swim in my water glass. The bread basket consisted of some delicious cheese topped focaccia. I really enjoyed my meal at L’andana (minus the dessert and the backstroking fly). However, I felt like the prices are too high. I understand that it is a property of the Columbus Hospitality group and the price points are similar to their other restaurants (Mistral, Teatro, Sorellina, & Mooo), but charging $50 for a steak is one thing when you in the Back Bay, it’s another when you are on 3A in Burlington, a stone’s throw away from a Kia dealership. However, this will not stop me from returning when they bring back the classic Bolognese to the menu.