So I finally made it to Oak – and during Executive Chef Richard Gras’ first week. With continued hype since the restaurant first opened early last year, Oak has established the Design District as the up-and-coming spot to be. While I’m disappointed I never made it to dinner while Chef Jason Maddy’s served as executive chef, we were able to sample the menu with a slight introduction to the changes that are coming.
Gras comes to Dallas from Miami where he was the Chef de Cuisine at the St. Regis Bal Harbour and headed Jean George’s acclaimed J&G Grill. Our server encouraged us to try to the Summer Corn Soup as it’s his recent addition to the menu and a preview of the talent he brings to the table. I’m typically not a fan of foam but in this particular dish it served a purpose, adding subtle flavor and a beautiful presentation while the soup itself still had plenty of substance. We also started the evening off with the Artichoke Salad, crispy baby artichoke hearts in a delicate white anchovy vinaigrette.
Next we ordered the Risotto per the server’s recommendation and were delighted by the fresh but unusual flavor combinations. Grilled foie gras balances out with mild peach and mint flavor to enhance the creamy risotto. Our table bread arrived as we were finishing the dish and we used it to sop up the extra juices for fear of missing one more bite.
For our main courses we split the Duo of Pork and the Veal Tenderloin and both were cooked to perfection. Beautiful presentations lent to well-portioned plates that didn’t leave you feeling as if you didn’t get your money’s worth. With a side of Brussel sprouts and spaetzle, Oak’s unique answer to a diner looking for mac n’ cheese, dinner was fantastic and filling.
Torn between the cheese plate and Rhubarb & Berry Shortcake, we opted to split both. The cheese plate was your run-of-the-mill presentation (cheese, crackers, nuts and fig) with high quality cheeses and one of the best cow’s milk brie I’ve tasted. The Rhubarb & Berry Shortcake was a pleasantly unique option and decorated as beautiful as the main courses, with pistachio ice cream and chantilly cream sauce to compliment the pie.
The décor was calm and cool and fitting to the neighborhood – a sophistication that carried from the moving digital art, through the presentation on the plates. I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed, but I was beyond impressed with the evening and will definitely be back to see how Gras can compete to enhance the already wonderful experience.