A little bit taller. Donald Trump. Pregnant.
These are the wishes of diners of the past. They are zip-tied to the giant oak tree that shades the path to The Local Oak, the Bishop Arts District restaurant that loved the tree so much they decided to name the restaurant after it. In the four years since its inception, The Local Oak has settled into its role as a semi-reclusive neighborhood hangout. Reclusive because of the mid-century style poured concrete that walls off its entrance and the Zang Boulevard location that is spared the relentless foot traffic that pounds Bishop's main drag. Once found, however, Local Oak becomes the anti-recluse, beckoning diners with a patio that oozes charm and a blunch menu that is more entertaining to read than most op-eds.
Yes, that's right, blunch. This particular portmanteau alludes to the fact that the Oak's offerings are, in their own words, "a little more lunch than brunch." They're also a little more diverse than your typical brunch fair – capturing everything from Frito pie ($8) to a meatloaf sandwich ($9) – and are dotted with what can best be described as the culinary wishes of children. The Felix Special ($13), for instance, is a veritable grade-school fantasy of Eggo waffles and Cap'N Crunch battered chicken combined with peanut butter, jelly and candied bacon. The nice thing about grade-school fantasies, of course, is that they tend to carry over into adulthood. We all want the chicken fingers coated in sugary cereal and candied bacon served not by the side but by the bucket.
Conveniently enough, Local Oak can help you with that. The Bucket of Love, as it is affectionately called, is the ultimate middle finger to diets. Fans of cremated bacon, beware: Here the bacon is served pliant, not crisp. Each bendy strip of bacon is jacketed by a sweet shell that smacks slightly of molasses. It's delicious and addictive, so check your responsible, high-functioning adult card at the door and order one bucket for every two people.
Continuing with the treat yo' self theme, the drink menu covers the classics and then some with mimosas, bloody marys and micheladas at $5 each. Those whose candied bacon craving cannot be satiated by the aforementioned bucket can also upgrade to the carnivore's bloody mary ($8), which arrives topped with a veritable pork salad of candied bacon and fried Spam.
And speaking of Spam, there is no shortage of it on the menu with not one but two dishes featuring this legendary meat-stuff. While some may be enticed by the thought of green eggs and Spam ($9), we opted for the Texas Surfers, aka Spam sliders. These little nuggets pack a punch of richness. Hawaiian rolls act as the vessels for thinly sliced, griddled Spam, cabbage slaw, pineapple and jalapeño relish. From the tangy slaw and cleansing crunch of the jalapeños to the salty, fatty Spam and sweet, buttery rolls, each bite delivered a myriad flavor and texture.
Those looking for a little more y'all and a little less aloha can take comfort in an order of brisket and biscuits ($12). Compared with the Texas Surfers this dish seems almost dull, but taken on its own is a fine rendition of biscuits and gravy. The buttermilk biscuits are cumulus-like – tall and impossibly fluffy. The brisket had an inorganic smoky flavor, though that mattered less thanks to a skillful gravy that bathed everything in pale, savory silk.
After brunch at The Local Oak, you too can tie your wish to the tree outside. Will it be for an Xbox? World peace? Or just for another meal as good as the one you just had?
The Local Oak, 409 N. Zang Blvd.