There are two groups of people in Boston: those that have embraced the new look and menu of the OAK restaurant, and those that are mourning the loss of the beloved Oak Room and Bar. I have to say that I stand right in the middle of those two groups.
I do love that the Fairmont Copley now has a restaurant where you can comfortably eat all three meals (and not feel like you should be wearing a jacket and tie) and enjoy a drink in a lively atmosphere. Yet at the same time, I miss the old world charm that the Oak Room exuded. You won’t find restaurants like that in Boston anymore. And with the recent closing of Locke-Ober, it looks like the whole city is gearing away from that era.
I’ve had a chance to dine a couple of times at the new restaurant (here’s my review of the old Oak Room) and while I do think that the food is delicious, after seeing how the restaurant/bar has operated since opening in July it’s definitely a bar destination first; the food comes second.
My last dinner there was with a few Boston-area bloggers and the PR managers at the hotel. It was a short dinner for me since I had a previous concierge engagement, but I was able to try dishes that I hadn’t had the first time I was there.
I started it off with a basil cucumber Collins with organic cucumber vodka, muddled basil and fresh squeezed lemon. The drink was slightly sweet and sour and was perfectly refreshing.
On the table already were these amazing cheddar and rosemary biscuits with red pepper aioli. The flavor combination was spot on and the biscuits were just the perfect size. Lately I’ve been loving red pepper dips and I think this one might be my favorite.
One of the newer specialties of OAK is their charcuterie plates. On our “sampler” we were given: Speck, sopressata, coppa, porchetta, prosciutto americano, Berkshire Blue, Landaff (cave aged), Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, cranberry apricot relish, maple mustard, house cured pickles and olives.
I immediately loaded my plate with speck, pickles, mustard, prosciutto and cheddar. The meat was perfectly cut and the mustard was nice and spicy. The cheese was spot on too. Overall, a successful dish for us to share.
At this point in the dinner, I had to head out to my concierge dinner so I wasn’t able to sample the rest of the meals. On previous dinners I’ve had the pulled pork flatbread with BBQ sauce and grapes, the red quinoa with summer vegetables, the roasted chicken, chocolate chia pudding and the fruit crisp. I enjoyed each dish, especially the quinoa dish with the addition of peaches and pistachios. I wasn’t a fan of the chia pudding though. Kind of tasted like Jell-O pudding with chia seeds.
So…what do I think of the new restaurant? It’s really tough to say. I do think that the hotel needed to have a more casual restaurant, but I feel that their need to have a more popular and frequented restaurant for the city has been a turn off to the Fairmont hotel guests. All too often people come by asking if the hotel has another bar and restaurant because the one we have is too crowded and noisy. I can imagine being frustrated going to a hotel and not being able to relax and have a meal, especially if you don’t want to venture outside. I’ve had less that pleasing encounters with the hosts as well. So not an A+ renovation in my eyes. More like a B. Seeing that the OAK is only a few months old, I hope that it will be able to turn around and not be just a profitable restaurant but a welcoming one too.
The dinner at OAK was complimentary but these opinions are that of my own.
OAK Long Bar + Kitchen is located at the Fairmont Copley Plaza at 138 Saint James Avenue, Boston, MA.