Wednesday, July 22, 2009

OAKLEYS bistro

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending a business dinner that was truly extraordinary. Brief history. I've been doing business with this company for at least 5 years. Some of my favorite people in terms of people I work with. This was a special annual visit from my sales rep, customer service rep, and the president of their company. I don't often get to see or talk to the president (Jim) but always enjoy my time with him. He's a father of 3, grandfather of 1 (she's 18 months old and he and his wife take great pleasure in doting on her). He is also a foodie. He and his wife spend their time enjoying fine food, fun food, experiential food. He has the inside scoop on a lot of the food world. He hails from Chicago so he has a lot of great food choices at his fingertips. I was instructed to pick a restaurant. Something "real nice." Eesh! Pressure! I know what kind of food I like... but my budget of nice isn't what this guy was looking for. I nailed it. OAKLEYS bistro If you click over there and read the menu- note the wording. Those are ingredients, not a description of the food. And it isn't every ingredient. But it gives you an idea of what the dish is. It was like eating the dishes created on Iron Chef or other Food Network shows. The plating was impeccable. The food was delicious. I arrived a few minutes early. There was a free wine tasting going on so I enjoyed a couple ounces of white and a couple ounces of red. Came inside and sat down. I ordered a Malbec that was delightfully spicy. We peruse the menu. It's almost overwhelming because the options are so fantastic. I'm completely torn on what to order. Since it's Tuesday, there is a special tasting menu. For $30, you get a 3 course meal. Starter, Entree, Dessert. This Tuesday, the tasting menu started with an heirloom tomato salad, went on to halibut, and ended with banana stuffed french toast. None of it is what it sounds like. The heirloom tomato salad was served on a small rectangular plate. There was a long strip of cucumber that had been curled into a single twist across the plate. On one side of the cucumber was a quarter of a green tomato. Red on the other side. Carmelized pearl onions and blue cheese and croutons dotted the plate. There was a drizzle of... balsalmic vinaigrette and something else (pesto, maybe). It was pretty. It was impressive. And the flavors layered together beautifully. 2 of us had the tasting menu. 1 had the duck. 1 had the vegetable plate. The halibut was served on a small bed of perfectly creamy mashed potatoes. There were a few peas, thin slices of asparagus, an avocado mixture on top, various crispy, thin greens of some sort. (I really should have swiped the menu so I could remember what it all was). The duck- I had a bite- was delicious. I've never liked duck. Apparently, I've never had it cooked properly. On one side of the plate was a sliced piece of duck. Fanned out, pink in the middle, the outside lightly crispy. A spring roll of duck confit off to the side. It looked so yummy. The vegetable assortment... was simply gorgeous. A vegetable lasagna. An open mushroom ravioli. Couscous stuffed cabbage. Peas with a parmesan pudding. I had a little bite of that pudding. Heaven. Bliss. It wasn't overwhelmingly cheesy or overly rich. It was so impressive when set down that I simply had to try and take a pic. Unfortunately, the flash went off so it isn't nearly as pretty in the pic as it was when set down. The dessert wasn't what it sounded like in my "IHOP mind." No texas toast or supersized bread soaked in egg and milk and cooked on a griddle. No way. No slices of chunks of banana. It was a small square of banana bread. A sprinkling of pecans. A small scoop of what tasted like chocolate gelato. A fresh strawberry, a leaf of mint. It was a true dining experience. Some of the bites were so perfect... I nearly cried. You all know that food has the potential to be really powerful for me. And this was one of those meals that I will never forget and am eager to experience again. I told Christy all about the meal and we jumped online so I could point to things and remember things. We also read more about the Chef Proprietor, Steven Oakley. This man has worked hard to get to where he is. And he pays it back, pays it forward. Check out what he does for the community. Christy and I are going to celebrate my birthday. My birthday falls on a Weds so we will celebrate the evening before, after work. We want to go on Tuesday so we can be there for another wine tasting, another tasting menu. I'm not sure we can wait the weeks between now and then without breaking down and making a Tuesday evening of it much sooner.

11 comments:

mimbles said...

That sounds seriously goooood!

FrankandMary said...

IHOP Mind. Perfect description.
~Mary

Alix said...

Mmmmmmmmmm. Thank you, Liz, for taking the time to describe your food adventure. I enjoyed it, albeit (and sadly) vicariously.

Jim and Garret said...

Mmmmmmm, I want some! Sounds divine. I love food. The pork loin dish sounds really good!

Garret

Amy said...

I've never been to Oakley's Bistro, but have heard plenty of good things about it. I think the Chef for a Day thing would be so cool. Glad you had a chance to enjoy it!

Eternal Lizdom said...

Isn't that a cool idea? $200 and you get to be IN the kitchen, preparing food, you get a chef's jacket, and you get dinner for 2 at the end of the day. I just can't imagine having the opportunity to learn from someone who is so gifted with food!

The Courteous Chihuahua said...

Although probably too "frou-frou" for my husband, I think it sounds wonderful! I've always heard rave reviews for the Chef and his restaurant. Glad you enjoyed it

Flartus said...

That sounds like the kind of menu Miss Chef would love to cook. And I would love to eat! It's so fun to try a unique, creative menu at places that really think about flavors.

That 3 for $30 is a great option; Miss Chef's place is running a special like that this week! Charlotte has a restaurant week in the spring when dozens of places offer that; it's very popular and brings in a TON of business.

Jackie E. said...

From the looks and sound of it, that food is delicious! I love trying new restaurants and I'm always amazed at the presentation of the meals that some of these chefs come up with. Guess that's why they get paid the big bucks:-)

Anonymous said...

How was the service at Oakleys

Eternal Lizdom said...

The service was good. Our server was very attentive but also kept an eye on when to not interupt. It was a business dinner so it was important to know when to be visible and when to be invisible. Wine glasses were kept filled, water was kept full (those are my pet peeves- I can't stand to be thirsty). Our server had knowledge of the menu items and what he didn't know, he found out for us.

No complaints from me!