I have some apologies that I didn’t post earlier about this. I’m in the process of moving my blog over to WordPress and have kind of hit a wall. Unfortunately, that’s what I’ve been concentrating on in the blog world this past week and it’s eaten up so much of my time.
Regardless, I went to Oak Steakhouse two nights ago.
Let me say that I have only been one other time since Jeremiah Bacon started there and it was pretty delicious. I remembered really liking my bistro steak then so we decided to go for round 2.
The atmosphere is fabulous in the bar area. We encountered great bartenders that seriously made me the most delicious dirty martini last time. I have yet to find its equal anywhere in the city. I strongly encourage you to order one up for yourself. The dining room, for me, is a bit of a different story entirely. While I love that their main dining room is far above the street on the third floor overlooking Broad Street, I only really like the first and second dining rooms that you encounter at the top of the stairs. The main one at the front of the building is a little bizarre for me. For lack of a better way to describe the room, it has jungle themes painted on the walls. I’m not making this up. I kind of wish I had pictures but there were couples having an intimate evening out and I didn’t want to disturb them. I felt like I was in someone’s upscale nursery or playroom. It wasn’t exactly a deal-breaker for the meal but it was borderline distracting when I was eating a $40 steak to see a monkey painted over the door frame. I don’t know, maybe I’m just being picky but it detracted somewhat from my personal experience. I polled the table and I really was the only one that cared so I guess it really is just me. I lose.
Decor aside, I will say that we received impeccable service from every member of the staff that we encountered. Our server, SA, the hostess and the front of house manager were all genuinely concerned about our enjoyment of the meal without being over the top. It was all done with a polite and professional flair to it and trust me, it did not go unnoticed. So many places think that the key to good service is offering you nothing short of the shirt off your back. I can say that based on personal experience in my profession that my favorite type of service is the calm, reserved, understated, elegant service that one receives in truly high-end establishments, most notably in a place like Charleston Grill. In my honest opinion, the service at Oak ranks right up there with the finest in town. Easily top 5. Based solely on the service, I would dine there again without hesitation.
The food itself could stand to be judged in its own category. Behold!
Patty and Colin (a new addition to the regular dining crowd) both ordered the filet. It was juicy and cooked perfectly rare. Good seasoning on top and a nice char. I really couldn’t find fault with the steak and Patty was raving about it but to be honest, it didn’t legitimately blow me away. I know, I know, it was still a beautiful cut of meat and it was prime at that but it was not the most amazing knock down, drag out steak I have ever had. It was by all means a superior steak, this much I will admit without the slightest doubt. I just can’t pinpoint it. Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for a big beefy steak that night. I will say that I ordered and received exactly what I wanted.
Quite possibly the most delicious veal chop I have eaten in a very very long time. It was an unbelievably flavorful t-bone chop with just the right amount of marbling throughout. In my opinion it was the best thing on the table. The char mixed with the juices once I cut into the chop so the whole dish had a rich peppery texture, including the delicious potatoes upon which the protein was perched. I was not a huge fan of the sauce that was served on the side but I was thankful that it was on the side and not covering the whole piece of meat. Seriously not a deal-breaker whatsoever. Overall, a decadent, knockout dish. I sincerely loved every bite. I can’t wait to eat it again.
Miss Woody’s bistro steak. Beautiful bias cut on the tenderloin, making it more tender than it already was. The Burden Creek goat cheese fondue was absolutely delicious; I could easily have used it as actual fondue and dipped bread and veggies in it. It elevated the dish beyond just “steak dinner” to “well thought out steak experience with an elegant flavor profile”. If it can be argued that fondue is elegant, this would be my entry into said debate. The truffle fries were, of course, delicious. A little heavy on the truffle oil but the texture of the fries was so good that it cancelled out any negativity created from the truffle flavor. It definitely didn’t stop me from having several forkfuls from Woody. A very successful dish and at only $28 it is a veritable steal if you’re looking for a satisfying gourmet meal out.
Sorry about the blurry photo, y’all. And to be honest, I didn’t get a bite of this dish. This was what Woody’s sister Mighty Heidi ordered and it looked delicious. I can almost always trust a good steakhouse to do fish well too and, well, she sure seemed happy.
I know that this is one of their signature dishes. I also know there would probably be nothing short of a civil war if they were to ever take this off their menu. There are enough people in this town that would riot in the streets and throw bricks through store windows if Oak Steakhouse ceased to make their signature Lobster Macaroni and Cheese. Jeremiah’s version is decidedly less decadent and it was pretty good. I have to admit, I do love orzo but I feel like the orzo doesn’t really work if you want to call the dish “mac and cheese”. Maybe I’m a purist but I feel like orzo is a tad light and doesn’t hold in the cheese the way elbow macaroni or rigatoni would. I also understand that lobster is so heavy and there has to be a way for the dish to counterbalance the lightness of the pasta with the decadence of the shellfish. However, who orders this dish looking for a restrained side to their steak? If you want something light, order the asparagus. My philosophy for situations like this is “go big or go home”. I want baked macaroni with lobster not orzo artfully prepared with aged cheddar whipped into a creamy fondue sauce with the finest quality of wild caught Maine lobster. I mean yes, that does sound phenomenal now that I think about it and the dish was really really delicious, but there are times when you should just call a spade a spade. This is one of those times.
Those mushrooms lurking back there were absolutely delicious too. Perfect texture and exceptional flavor.
Asparagus and spinach. Pretty standard stuff here, people. No problem with anything, just wanted to show you all my pics.
So the dinner was actually really good. To reiterate, I loved my veal and Woody’s bistro steak. Sides were all good, yada yada.
The chef heard we were interested in dessert. Mind you, we were too full to order anything but for some reason we received some anyway. Maybe it’s the fact that Patty is just overly friendly and nice things seem to happen to her. Here is my rundown in order of deliciousness.
4. Their chocolate cake. I loved the blue and blackberries and the cake was moist. Not the best of the desserts but still a passable chocolate cake in the big scheme of things.
3. The carrot and fig cake. It was so rich but not overbearing. I have never had a carrot cake that also featured the figgy texture that this particular confection did. Unique and delicious so therefore a win-win.
2. The “by no means regular” crème brûlée. Easily the most delicious I have had in Charleston. A perfect thickness on the sugar for the top and creamy and delicious underneath. It had that quintessential signature snappy sound when broken by a spoon. I would also order this again and I am not even a “dessert person”. It was that good. Topped only by…
1. Burden Creek Goat Cheesecake. A velvety cheesecake with a distinct goaty flavor and texture to it. I could not stop eating it. It was phenomenal. One of the best desserts I have ever eaten at a restaurant in Charleston. And also the world. With just enough of an emphasis on the crust there at the bottom and the blood orange slash across the plate, it was a near perfect dessert. I loved every bite.
The bottom line on Oak: while it wasn’t necessarily the best steak I have ever eaten in my entire life, the restaurant itself is easily one of the better dining experiences in town. With the understated elegance in the atmosphere and service, not to mention the wonderful food parading out of the kitchen, Oak is one of the more surprising and enjoyable restaurants that I’ve been to recently. It was delightfully pleasant and in retrospect, I have not had a more relaxed and unpretentious meal out in Charleston since I went to Carolina’s a few weeks ago. Seriously, well done y’all. I cannot wait to send guests there. I’m sure I’ll hear nothing but fantastic feedback.