First Look

Oak Now Open in the Design District (Photos)

Oak opened recently in the Design District, just across the street from the Meddlesome Moth. Owners Tommy DeAlano and Richard Ellman hired Plan B (Bolsa, Cedars Social) to create a beautiful, relaxed and upscale space with a menu for the refined foodie.

Executive Chef Jason Maddy has worked around the world, including in New York City, New Orleans, Japan, Austria and Austin. He trained under Chef David Bouley until 2008, when he was recruited to the Mansion by Chef John Tesar and continued working there with Chef Bruno Davaillon.

The dinner menu has six salads, including a Foie Gras Torchon, which has candied kumquat and black pepper gastrique ($12). Starters included dishes like potato dumplings with butternut squash, field spinach in a Parmesan broth ($9), Moroccan octopus and pork jowls ($11) and veal schnitzel ($12).

Mains start at $18 (Papperdelle) and go up to $30 for the grilled filet of beef, which is 7 ounces and comes with a brown butter potato, trumpet mushrooms and sauce bordelaise. The Mediterranean Branzino (photo below, $24) is served over artichoke, tomato confit and white anchovy vinaigrette with several thin dried chorizo slivers atop.

If you sit at the bar, Tristan will absolutely push the bread pudding. Let it happen. And Abraham Bebell was hired from Victor Tangos to manage the bar; his drinks are consistently strong and balanced.

The average ticket here will easily push $50 per person. The guy next to me at the bar left admittedly stuffed and spent over $100 (for one). Glancing around the dining room, most patrons are mellow, focused on the conversation just in front of them and comfortably slouched back in the deep chairs and booths. The dinner crowd isn't too concerned about who just walked in, but more about the food and people immediately in front of them. The music keeps the mood a little edgy; Prince's "When Doves Cries" actually played twice while I was there.

Probably a special occasion destination for most people, but with a kitchen open until 11 p.m. and Abe at the bar, drinks and a light dish on the patio could keep things busy late. Reservations are highly suggested, but seats at the bar are first-come first-serve.

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Lauren Drewes Daniels is the Dallas Observer's food editor. She started writing about local restaurants, chefs, beer and kouign-amanns in 2011. She's driven through two dirt devils and is certain they were both some type of cosmic force.