By Erin Wade–
Stepping foot into The Oakroom will undoubtedly cause you to feel a touch of euphoria. Just the staircase in the Seelbach Hilton leading up to the Five Diamond restaurant can make one antsy about what’s in store, but while being seated, you will take in all that is around you: lush rose petals scattered on the table, a piano being played softly and the most exotic smells wafting about you. All of this in a dimly lit room is quite the classy combination for a romantic getaway or even a night out with friends, though I speak for the first since the night I went was Valentine’s Day. I suppose it may have just been that love was in the air, but the atmosphere was in a word, extravagant.
In such a beautiful setting, it’s hard not to people-watch. The dress code is business casual and being that most everyone was on a Valentine’s Day date, of course they were looking their best in red – except for my date and I, as we were adorned in blue. With most of the senses being appeased by the room, the last would be appeased by the cuisine. The menu offers a variety of classic American dishes that consist of regional and international ingredients alike in a relentlessly creative way. Being a relatively picky eater and a kind date, I ordered the Vegetable Bounty -the cheapest entrée at $26 – and was, to say the least, surprised. The lavish display of the vegetables on the plate primarily composed of beech mushrooms, fingerling potatoes, leeks, butternut squash and turnips, was overall delightful. The chef conquered a great culinary feat: he made brussel sprouts delicious. I normally try to choke down just a few for the sake of being a healthy eater, but two of good size are normally all I can manage. And it would appear I’m not alone; when I asked my waiter for the list of ingredients, he specifically mentioned how everyone was in love with the chef’s brussel sprouts.
For dessert, I opted for the Baklava, which the menu described as honey semifreddo, toasted walnut pound cake and lavender honey ice cream. I couldn’t resist the thought of lavender ice cream considering I’d only experienced it as a scent and not a flavo,r and what an experience it was. Like before, I was amazed not only by the lovely colored ice cream that melted in your mouth as real ice cream should, but by the tiny drops of lavender gastrique. Gastriques are flavor-packed reductions sometimes mistaken for pure decoration, but were a powerful force in the dish.
As wonderful as the dessert was the real cherry on top (or cherries), the waiters were charming as well. Each individual was so dedicated to making your experience at The Oakroom not only an enjoyable one, but a memorable one. I feel that I must mention the host and his marvelous mustache. It was exceedingly impressive and vaguely reminiscent of the Monopoly Man’s in shape and volume.
Whether you’re looking for a place to spoil your sweetheart or you’re trying to find a reason to wear that cute new dress, this restaurant can guarantee a splendid time for all who attend.
Photo courtesy HelloLouisville.com