Monday, June 20, 2011

Oakley's Bistro- Revisit

Recently, I had the opportunity to go to Oakley’s for lunch and then again for dinner not long after.  I had heard that the menu had changed a bit and was interested to see how much.  I have always enjoyed Oakley’s and am excited to see something new on their menu.

So the first meal was lunch, for my Dad’s birthday.  I had the soup and tart combo (really it was a pizza, not a tart). I started with the shrimp bisque.  It was good.  The soup had a nice shrimp flavor, and I usually enjoy the little chopped bits that Oakley’s puts into their soups, but these tasted mostly like celery and were just a little too crunchy for me.

I also had the “spring” pizza simply because it had morels on it (my Dad got the same thing).  It sounded really good—with ramps, morels and pesto. The crust was very thin and crisp, sort of what I imagine a flatbread should taste like, actually. I found it humorous that they called it a pizza instead.  Anyway, the flavor was good, there was pesto spread as the sauce, some really skinny roasted spears of asparagus, some ricotta cheese and pine nuts giving it a nice little crunch.  The morels you ask?  Well, they were there, but they were really small little pieces—one piece on each piece of pizza.  They tasted good in the bite in which you got them, but a few more would have helped the pizza really live up to its description.  There was also a properly dressed pile of greens in the center that went great on top of the pizza to give it a little kick from the vinegar in the dressing.

When we were back not long after for dinner, I was excited to see how much the menu had changed—there were a lot of new things on it and also a lot of morels, which of course once again got me excited.  So I started with the morel mushroom gnocchi ($12.75) with pickled ramps, smoked tomato coulis and a mustard truffle cream.  This dish was delicious.  It was put together perfectly both in presentation and taste.  There were several earthy gnocchi on the plate with some nice chunks of morel mushrooms and very fresh tasting peas.  It was covered in a rich, but not overdone sauce that tasted of the morels and slightly of truffles.  The tomato coulis surrounded that and made the plate very colorful.  The pickled ramps on top were tasty, but maybe a little firm to go with the small bites of the other delicate flavors.   It was also sprinkled with a slightly crunchy bready topping that was described as an “everything bagel crust.”  So it had some seeds and some nuttiness along with a slight bready topping.  It added a nice texture. All in all, I really liked this dish a lot.

Hubby and I also split the “toad in a hole” salad ($10.75) which was a healthy slab of brioche with a hole cut out, into which an egg was cooked, and the whole thing was covered in asparagus, prosciutto, roasted red peppers, a hunk of brie and dressed with truffle vinaigrette.  Okay, you know I love an egg with just about everything, and the theory of this salad was great.  The execution was a little off—the egg was cooked a little harder than I would like—I always felt that part of the beauty of a toad in the hole was dipping the little round piece of bread into the yolk, but the yolk was not runny.  The taste of it all together was good though—the fresh asparagus and the prosciutto are natural mates with an egg and what is essentially buttery toast—and add a little brie and a vinaigrette, and you can’t really go wrong.  The salad was very good, but would have been perfect if the egg was perfectly cooked.

For my main, I had another appetizer—the lobster waffle ($12.75).  This is something I have seen on the menu before, but this was described as a “morel mushroom waffle” so you know I had to get it.  I don’t think there were actually any morels in the waffle, but there were pieces of morels on top, along with lobster hunks, zucchini and crispy fried leeks.  This was not bad, but there was a lot going on here, and unfortunately, I thought the lobster bits were kind of mealy.  Compared to the morel gnocchi, well, there was no comparison.  Hubby had the housemade fettuccini  ($18.75+ $5.75 for meatballs) with crushed tomato sauce, roasted garlic ricotta cheese and pancetta.  He added the chicken artichoke meatballs as well.  He really enjoyed the pasta, and particularly the meatballs.  It was a fairly simple pasta dish in a red sauce, but the meatballs were quite unique and had a distinct artichoke flavor, which is something we both like a lot.  Even he couldn’t finish all the pasta though, and that’s saying something.
Oakley’s is definitely one of the better restaurants we have in Indy, and now that they are mixing up the menu a bit more, it is getting me more excited about returning more often.  It is nice to see fresh menu items and lots of fresh spring ingredients being used.
Oakley’s Bistro
1464 West 86th Street
Indy 46260

Oakley's Bistro on Urbanspoon


  1. Well, mixing the menu up is a relative concept. Two of the three dishes you mention have been on the menu for *years*. Love Steve and love Oakley's but wish he'd truly do something different things. The food there is largely the same as it's been since the week they opened. While he changes his menu seasonally, I'd argue there's very little mixing it up there going on.

  2. I had reviewed just a bit ago - I thought the waffle was flat in taste, but the sauce was great. And sad to hear about your egg for the toad in the hole salad - mine was runny and perfect. Not happy to hear it wasn't consistent. But I do agree, I just love Oakley's, and even if I may or may not have found a hair in my dinner, I'll still return. The food is great.

  3. I've actually been to Oakleys twice in the last month due to a series of fortunate events, and the menu changed nearly 100% between the two visits. They do tend to have the same types of food (like gnocchi, lobster waffle), but the details change. In fact, the menu is different since your review. The pizza is a new item and awesome!

  4. Try the shrimp corn dogs and mac & goat cheese!

  5. Noticed you left a business card at a local business. Just curious why the purpose of promoting your blog? Do you normally leave your business card whenever you dine somewhere? Thanks for taking my question.

  6. braingirl--I agree that Oakley's often just mixes the prep on certain dishes and recycles a lot of the same things through. However, this menu was as different as I have seen, but maybe I haven't eaten there as much as you have.

    Citynomnoms-- lucky for you on the egg. I am sure it was delicious.

    Chris--thanks for writing. I guess it all depends on how you view "changing the menu." There are certainly items that consistently reappear on the menu (and honestly, my opinion is several of those are the ones that should probably go--I am talking to you lobster waffle and shrimp corn dog), but there was also quite a bit a variety on this last trip. Not totally different, but certainly more different than I have seen.

    drays--I have had the shrimp corndogs and honest don't get the appeal of them. I wonder if the kitchen is as sick of them as I am? As for the mac and cheese, I have not had it yet. This is a place where sides seem unnecessary to me becauset he plating is usually generous and includes more than just the protein. So I have had a hard time wanting to order extra starch. One of these days I need to just get a salad and the mac and cheese.

    Kiran--I have left cards at a couple of businesses that I thought might have potential interested readers (and usually are friends as well). Why would I want to promote my blog? Well, so people can read it silly. It would be no fun to have a blog with no readers. And no, I do not leave my cards at restaurants.

  7. Joe in Montgomery OHJune 22, 2011 at 1:55 PM

    Erin, thanks for the "two appetizer" dinner. I'm in revolt about having too much food pushed down my "gullet". I wish more restaurants would offer smaller portions. They'll get more money out of me as well. I see a big entree plate going past and any though of appetizers go flying out the window.

    Oakley's is nothing but consistent and that is good.