Sunday, May 17, 2009

Oakley's Bistro-- Dinner

Continuing in our effort to support good locally owned restaurants, we wanted to go back to Oakley’s Bistro, but this time for dinner. We have been to Oakley’s several times before, but I have never written a review of it, so I figured now was the time. We were really hoping for a good meal since so many of the best restaurants seem to be closing down right now.

I will start by saying we weren’t disappointed. This was probably the best Oakley’s meal we have had. I was intrigued because they have a new sous chef who apparently enjoys working with seafood (which tends to be my favorite things to eat at a restaurant). My criticism of this place in the past has been that the menu doesn’t really change that much, and that I often see the same things on the menu. This is still true to a certain extent, but there did seem to be some new things as well. And everything was good.

Before I get on to the specifics, I need to say that this is some of the best presented food in Indy, the plates are all beautiful, and even the soups are poured from lovely cast iron tureens into large bowls. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera this night, so I don’t have any pictures (not to mention I would have been a little obvious with the chef directly across the restaurant from me in the open kitchen). It is a shame though, because honestly, the food is quite the feast for the eyes. Anyway, to start we ordered the mushroom soup and the romaine salad with olives, pinenuts, mozzarella, smoked tomatoes and asiago basil Caesar dressing. We shared both of these items. The soup was good, very hearty and rich though and maybe more appropriate in a colder season, but the truffle crème fraiche was tasty and I liked that there were some chunks in the soup, a pure cream soup can get somewhat boring to me. They certainly do soup well here, but maybe I should have gone with the special, a shrimp bisque. Probably would have been a bit lighter.

We also shared the salad I mentioned, and it was outstanding. Seriously, a star. And I liked the unique take on a Caesar salad—as the waiter described, it was sort of like a cross between a chop salad and a Caesar. The salad was served in a bowl made of crisp tortillas and the romaine was chopped with little dices of mozzarella, toasted pine nuts, and nice pieces of olives and tomatoes. And the dressing was a jazzier take on a Caesar. And even though normally I like that really soft buffalo mozzarella, the firmer chunks of mozzarella used here stood up appropriately to the salad and were the perfect choice. All in all, this was one of the best salads I have had in Indy, and I appreciate the attempt to do something besides the blue cheese wedge. There was actually another salad, the harvest salad which also sounded really good and unique—it had roasted mushrooms, endive and a goat cheese fritter…oh well, next time… Although I may have a hard time not ordering the Romaine salad if it is on there again.

For my main, I ordered the scallop appetizer which looked new to me (I had had several of the other appetizers on the menu in past visits). There were two large seared sea scallops speared with tasty roasted asparagus and served over a little pea puree and served alongside a risotto cake and ramps. This dish was very good. My favorite part of it was that the ramps tasted like they were slightly pickled which added the acidic taste that I like to the otherwise rich dish. The scallops were perfectly cooked and I appreciated that even in an appetizer there was a bit of starch (the risotto cake) which made it a perfect entrée for me. And I certainly didn’t need any more food.

Hubby had the short ribs (our waiter told us they were keeping the short ribs on the menu for now simply because filet had gotten so expensive that they didn’t want to have an item priced so high on the menu). He loved it. Practically licked the plate clean (other than the horseradish cream which wasn’t his favorite). He also had a really nice glass of Pinot Noir that he was very happy about, and is ready to add Oakley’s onto the list of the best restaurants in Indy. Oh, we also had the warm brownie dessert with caramel corn and vanilla bean ice cream. We have had it several times, and it is delicious.

While I am in agreement that this meal was outstanding, the only thing I would comment on again is that the menu doesn’t really change a lot. Even as few times as I have been there, I have had many of the menu items. I really get excited to see fresh items on the menu, particularly when the seasons are changing. It seems at Oakley’s they often just change the accompaniments and not the dish itself. This is not to say the dishes are bad, as many of them are quite good, but hey, variety is the spice of life right?

Oakley’s Bistro
1464 W 86th St
Indianapolis, IN 46260
(317) 824-1231

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