Oak + Char | River North | Contemporary/Regional, Global/Fusion/Eclectic | Restaurant

Oak + Char Menu Image

Hours: Lunch: Monday-Friday; dinner: seven days
Open late: Thursday-Saturday till midnight

Price: $$

Chef Joseph Heppe dabbles in Indian, Korean, Italian, and other cuisines at this nebulous concept.

Restaurant Details

The chef in charge is Joseph Heppe, who makes worlds collide, combining elements of disparate cuisines in single dishes. He tosses blistered shishitos with shreds of funky aged country ham concealing a trench of nutty romesco sauce. He breathes fire onto creamy charred burrata with a spicy eggplant muhammara, served with biscuitlike naan. He deep-fries golf-ball-size arancini with molten cores of pecorino bechamel and plates them with bitter braised rapini and sweet, thick red-pepper vinaigrette. He glazes hard-fried Korean-style chicken wings with a mixture of maple, sherry, and the red-pepper paste gochuchang, and beds them atop an eerily green cilantro-lime yogurt sauce. Blistered, spice-crusted lengths of octopus are fired in a tandoori oven and plated with roasted eggplant and a drizzle of nduja-tinged vinaigrette. Mineral-rich beef tartare is dabbed with deposits of aioli emulsified with uni. Certain dishes go off the rails farther than others. The breading on deep-fried broccoli heads draped with white anchovy and fueled by fruity Calabrian chiles absorbs oil like a sponge. Nicely charred double cheeseburger patties are nearly outdone by thick, too-sweet slices of house-made pickles. Strozzapreti, aka "priest stranglers," in a lifeless goat ragu with an oddly alkaline pistachio gremolata are certainly fat, doughy, and undercooked enough to take out a bishop. Maybe the most successful dish on the menu is one that doesn't seem to reference any particular cuisine at all. Slices of pork collar, brined in cider and cooked just pink, luxuriate among fermented apples, turnips, and chorizo. It's a seemingly straightforward plate that puts the spotlight on a great, underused cut of meat, exhibiting a simplicity not seen elsewhere on the menu. Read the full review >>

Mike Sula

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Price: $$

Payment Type: AmEx, Discover, Mastercard, Visa

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