Boulder's New Oak at Fourteenth
The thread, Late Night Eats in Boulder (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7535...), contains several posts (Dec 16-18, so far) about this new restaurant + links to posts elsewhere. There seems to be enough interest to merit a separate thread.. People either love it already or are dismayed by the kinks. Who else has eaten there, and what do you think?
happy to put my input here, with clarifications.
I had lunch there and was underwhelmed. Small portions coupled with high prices, and the food just flat out wasn't that good. I had the tuna Nicoise salad, and it was unlike any nicoise salad I have had before. But not in a good way. It was mostly pieces of unremarkable and gray tuna atop beans, with some celery thrown in.
To clarify, it was not that the price was high, I'm willing to pay for good food, and a $15 lunch meal that is filling and delicious, made with good ingredients, is fine by me. It's when the $15 meal isn't that filling or particularly delicious that the price tag becomes high, if that makes any sense.
I was hoping for a lot more, and will give it another try, but considering how much I was looking forward to it, this was a disappointment. That said, I know that it's still early in this restaurant's life, and lunch is often the bastard stepchild of dinner service, so I'm by no means making a final judgment, nor should anyone make such a judgment from my post. It's just one data point.
I just want to reiterate that while I wasn't thrilled with my meal, I chalk it up as nothing more than the possible growing pains of a new restaurant. I recall that I was very disappointed on my first visit to Happy Noodle House (another restaurant that I was very excited for when it opened). Subsequent visits to Happy have been very good, and that first experience is a distant memory attributed to working out the kinks on opening.
Brief summary of my lunch visit: I enjoyed my salmon salad greatly but thought the portion was miserly, and left still hungry. I've heard that dinner portions are better, so I definitely plan on returning to try dinner since I had no complaints with the food - salmon was perfectly cooked and seasoned, as was the soft-boiled egg.
Also, they were out of the pork belly & egg sandwich by 12:30 at lunchtime, so if that's got you salivating (as it did for me) then get there early to avoid disappointment!
While I completely agree all new places will have growing pains and therefore different dining times will show more inconsistency than when a place has settled into its groove, if everyone waits until a place has 100% settled in before they try it, they won't stay in business long enough to do just that. Further, I know plenty of people who have had great experiences at dinner already (including me, and I’m not only picky but snarky). Even noted winos Bruce Schoenfeld and Richard Betts have sent out positive tweets about the place, and I don't think anyone would accuse those guys of having palates that suck. Just last Sunday Bruce wrote “Finally great bone marrow (w/ caviar) in Boulder. Great meal @ Oak at 14th and we're still on apps…” Clearly "many" Boulderites are not taking a wait-and-see approach, because particularly on the Friday evening that tatamagouche and I were there, it was packed to the rafters and several of those people subsequently gave Oak praise in various internet forums. They have poured their heart and soul into this place and I can guarantee they want you to leave happy, so please speak up at the restaurant so they can make things right for you while they have a chance to. Besides bad-ass mixology talents, Bryan mastered some pretty good FOH skills in the years he spent taking care of people at Frasca. Steve R. would have never been able to step foot into the kitchen at Frasca or Cyrus or the Little Nell if he didn’t know two or three things about slingin’ hash. :-)
I’ll post some of the write-up links here on this thread again:
Oh, and when I inquired, they indicated they are not open for late night yet but hope to be “shortly into the new year.”
675 E Durant Ave, Aspen, CO
Good point about NOT waiting until a promising restaurant has found its footing, or it never will survive to do so. OTOH, my thrifty writer friends were not happy to pay what for Pearl Street at lunch was a high price for a less than satisfactory experience. I agree that constructive critical comments during that shakedown period can help a restaurant mature more quickly. In fact, we did bring everything up to Annie Polk that I posted on my blog, and she was receptive. I live about a 10-minute walk from Oak at 14th, so I know I'll be back, probably in the evening next time, and I look forward to it.