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OAKWOOD on W 4th
“Unfortunately I did not have my digital camera on me so I could show you what two different piles of shit look like next to each other.”
TOO SAUCY, and not the sassy type!
It was my birthday week and tonight was my brothers turn to take me out. Not having a craving I asked peers for any good recomendations (who recommends a bad restaurant anyways!?)...*fast forward 5 minutes and the only suggestion I got was from my landlord and his girlfriend. “Oakwood this, omg, oakwood that, you gotta try oakwood, you’ll love it!”. What the hell does she know i love anyways? My taste profile is far too complex for her understanding to just ‘love’ something. So I politely ask what cuisine they serve and she tells me “Mmm… North American comfort food with a contemporary twist”... well great, all that means is baked macaroni and cheese with some non descript addition of herbs, maybe a nice european cheese if you’re lucky. My landlord suggested we make a reservation as it’s a fairly ‘small’ restaurant and very popular too (according to yelp). I figured since i’d never heard of Oakwood I wouldn’t bother with a reservation and boy was I right. We got there at 8 o’clock and the place was frickin empty! Being a foodie you know telltale signs of a poor quality restaurant. NUMBER 1 IF IT’S EMPTY IT’S BAD!!! And boy, was I right. The only saving grace this restaurant has are the three hard working servers who are extremely over qualified to be working in this midden. My brother had his 100 Lbs dog with him and get this, THEY WOULD NOT LET HIM SIT AT THE TABLE!!! Luckily since there was nobody there we were able to pick and choose at our liking, (not to mention i let her know it was my birthday ;) ) and we got a table on the heated patio where my brother could keep a watchful eye on his pup. The music was terrible, Club Hits ‘09. As we are sitting waiting for our server, a man, presumably the owner, walks out to the patio to look at us. No greeting, nor smile, just a stare. His outfit was dated, talk about Jamie Oliver circa 2006! After a grueling 5 minutes we finally get our drink order in, scotch and soda w/ a lemon wedge sliced against the grain for me, and a manhattan for my brother, no cherry. As we’re waiting for the drink order we decide to graze our eyes over the menu which is tattered and meant to look used and vintage. Somebody must have gotten this idea from Pinterest because no owner in their right mind would stand for that cutesy bullshit. The table top was sticky and my menu stuck to it. I should mention that our server has given us a backdrop for the atrocity of this establishment, ‘Share plates’. The menu is meant to be shared and “the average person orders two plates”. I’ll spare you the agony of the dishes on the menu and just tell you what we ordered. To start, Warm kale salad, tossed with cauliflower, brussel sprouts and a lemon parm vinaigrette. Followed by the next two dishes; Buttermilk fried confit of lamb belly, honey ginger, red pepper aioli, and, Pan seared (more like deep fried) gnocchi with salsa verde, roasted tomato puree, parmesan sabayon, all topped with caramelized fennel. And finally (an absolute frankenstein of a dish), Slow braised (as opposed to fast braised) pork cheek, black turtle beans, sauerkraut, smoke yogurt, and caramelized onion jus. Now our drinks have just arrived, and what does my scotch and soda have? A lime wedge, did i order a fucking tequila shot? HOWEVER, our server, as sharp as she is, noticed the drink went without a lemon wedge and quickly hustled over to our table with one. She saved the day. The warm kale salad was first to arrive and it arrived like the slopping mess I expected it be. With that said, it was at least palatable, and that’s about all i can say about the dish. It wasn’t until five minutes after we had finished the salad that the lamb belly and gnocchi arrived. Unfortunately I did not have my digital camera on me so I could show you what two different piles of shit look like next to each other. So let me tell you, you wouldn’t be surprised. Where to start...how about with the fact that the lamb belly seemed to come out of some two bit carnival/pseudo-foodtruck kitchen. There was a disturbingly think amount of butter-milk batter that needed to be wrung of the stale oil that it had been fried in. Once you got through the latter, you could finally taste a hint of something that once was in fact lamb, which had been ferociously stripped of its own integrity as a protein. On the side of the plate was a ramekin globbed full of roasted garlic aioli. Now I am realizing that the chef has deep inspiration from the infamous blonde porcupine topped celebrity chef Guy Fierree of “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.” I won’t begin to tell you what is running through our minds at this moment, but baby it ain’t pretty. Onto the...gnocchi. What was placed in front of us seemed to have been a rendition of a grotesque pasta dish you would see in an episode of “Ren and Stimpy”. Piled high and melting away at the same time. At the base, a thin film of roasted tomato pureé and salsa verde, on top, the apparent ‘pan seared’ gnocchi heavily dusted in cornmeal and coated by a thick parmesan sabayon blanket. The gnocchi was overcooked (and apparently deep fried…wtf???) and the sabayon lacked any redeeming quality left to adhere the dishes overall failure. I was at least expecting the sabayon to be overwhelmingly flavoured by parmesan so I could at least get some sort of flavour, but no, nothing, just nothing. The final dish was served as we were about half way through the gnocchi. The pork cheek, "slow braised". This is where I had to draw the line. The dish was served and as it lay there lifeless, void of any visual appeal, I sat confused. What was I looking at? Lined up in a row and crowned with sauerkraut(?), the cheeks sat atop a slurry (cesspool seems a little too harsh) of black pinto beans, smoked yogurt that was separating in front of our very eyes, and the pork and onion jus. I regrettably took my first bite. Seriously what the hell did I just eat. For something that was "SLOW BRAISED" it had the consistency of what I would imagine the sole of a Chuck Taylor to have when bitten. The flavour, or lack thereof, was disgusting and inedible. As for the rest of the dish, the remaining components had no business being on the same plate as one another, and i'll leave it at that. Just brutal. Our server came back to see how the dish was and noticed it had barely been touched. "Full are we?" she asked. I responded with an awkward chuckle and said "No". "Oh, is there something wrong?" "Well yes actually, I am sorry but this just does not taste good, I, hmm, I can't eat it." She politely apologized and took the dish away as well as off the bill. This is the first time I have returned a dish due to a poor recipe and execution. I could continue to describe the rest of the meal, but frankly, there is no need because the remainder of the experience carried on with the same mediocrity as what you have just read. I will, however, say this; don’t go there, the music is shit, it’s loud, the food is bland, and was quite frankly disgusting. I can only imagine that the head ‘chef’ took inspiration from the mystery basket aspect of the t.v. show “Chopped” to create an absolute Frankenstein of a menu. I didn’t even get the chance to check the bathroom as we were not there long enough for the need to use it. Sadly, the only good thing to come out of our dining experience was leaving.
Seared hali, tomato puree, white wine and butter (not beurre blanc), caper and shallot
**THIS REVIEW HAS NOT BEEN EDITED**