Oakley’s Bistro was started in 2002 and continues to be run by Chef Steven Oakley today. His dream was to create “an affordable, everyday destination where every meal is a special occasion.” He started cooking at 16 years of age and has gathered experience from many restaurants and other chefs. Now he and his restaurant have been recognized with many awards and he also donates a portion of the bistro’s sales to an Indianapolis food rescue program as well as opening his kitchen for training and hiring of those who want to go into the restaurant industry. The place is medium-sized with some outdoor tables also available and located in a strip shopping center. They offer an a la carte menu but also have 2 tasting menu time slots on Wed- Sat nights. We opted for that which must be reserved 24 hours in advance. As you enter the dining room you’ll see the curved booth slightly above and next to the kitchen and that is where the tasting is served by the chef himself. The 5 – 6 course tasting can accommodate up to 4 people but if you are a couple it will be just you. At $85 per person it is a good value with wine pairings available. We had a lovely evening there and would recommend the place if you are in the area.
Chef won the “Beat Bobby Flay” contest with his shrimp corndog and so we added that to our tasting. It is served with bistro honey mustard. They contained a large perfectly cooked shrimp and the outside corn coating was well proportioned to the shrimp. It came out pipping hot and was really tasty.
The amuse bouche were a cod brandade fritter and fried morels with olive aioli. The fritter was filled with shredded cod which was good with the aioli. There were a couple of pieces of fried morels for each of us which were wonderful.
A sea scallop was plated with Sichuan marinated charred zucchini, pomegranate molasses, Marcona almonds, saffron aioli and chili ginger crunch. The perfectly cooked scallop was surrounded and sitting on tons of ingredients with spicy flavors and varied textures. I enjoyed the dish but sometimes forgot I was eating a scallop there were so many things going on in the dish.
Foie Gras ganache was plated with sweet n’ sour tamarind, muscat pickled grapes, turmeric corn “chips”, cured duck egg crumble, frisée salad and ramp spice. The foie gras was a wonderful light preparation surrounded by lots of crunchy ingredients to add texture. They also added flavors as did the sauces and bits of fruit. I love foie gras in just about any presentation and this one did not disappoint – it was delicious.
Agnolotti of spring peas contained ricotta and mint, verjus pickled ramps, house ramp kimchi, crisp chickpeas and brie cream. Ricotta and mint were the stuffing for the pasta which was decorated with sunchoke chips. It was a creation of the sous chef. The brie cream was nicely rich but a tad too thick which made the dish border on pasty. The flavor was good but the texture needed a bit of work.
Dry aged squab breast was made up of leg confit, moo shu pancake, currants, Japanese eggplant salad, farro and blood orange gastrique. The squab had been aged for 11 days and was presented a lovely medium rare. The Japanese eggplant had been charred and mixed with roast garlic. Some great sauces made this a really yummy plate.
The pineapple upside-down olive oil cake contained bourbon cherries, vanilla cinnamon syrup and toasted marshmallow ice cream. The super moist cake was topped with the cherries and the ice cream was on something crunchy and sweet. The syrup was below and pulled everything together. This one was balanced and a delicious sweet fix to end the meal.