(sorry for the lack of photos)
Imagine a visit to a French restaurant and you probably picture a formal, perhaps stuffy restaurant complete with a dimly lit interior, candles and an uptight maître d'. Now picture a visit to Oak 63 at 408 E. 63rd in Brookside. Completely different from what you may have imagined, it is in fact a charming bistro with large windows and a small, but friendly staff.
We initially decided to visit this place because my wife, for some reason, thought it was a sandwich shop. It wasn’t, at least not at dinner time. Specializing in Southern French cuisine, I initially felt a little self-conscious in shorts and a T-shirt, but the friendliness of the waiter (it was small enough that there was only one), coupled with a rather boisterous party of retirees soon made me feel right at home.
Aside from the charm the location exudes, I was instantly a fan of this place when I saw the menu. Clearly the chef values simple foods done right over a large, unnecessarily complex menu, because there was only a choice of eight or nine entrées, with around 20 options in total including appetizers and salads. And even better the menu was dated, meaning the chef had determined exactly what he would be serving based upon what ingredients he thought were best. Loved it.
Not overly hungry, we just went with entrees, I had the veal scallopini and Natasha ordered the duck breast, which arrived following a quite reasonable wait. Natasha’s duck was perfectly cooked. Moist and succulent, it had just the slight hint of pink you want in your duck, and served with its juices on a bed of arugula, was a well thought-out, simple, yet quite tasty dish.
My veal dish was a pair of veal medallions pounded thin and served with a shallot-wine cream sauce and sautéed mushrooms and asparagus. On the side was a layered potato casserole, quite common in French cuisine of which I can’t seem to recall the name. At any rate it was delicious. The veal was excellent, very tender and well cooked. My only issue was with the sauce, which I found to be slightly under seasoned (for the record, Natasha disagreed with me on this. She found it to be perfectly seasoned. But then I always prefer strong flavors).
Overall, both dishes were very successful, and the portion size was perfect. Unlike most restaurants in this county, Oak 63 doesn’t feel obligated to provide your entire daily caloric requirements in one dish. Instead they provide enough food to satiate your hunger, without making you uncomfortably full.
Prices were quite good for the quality provided, with entrees ranging from $12 to $25 dollars. With a couple of drinks and a decent tip, we still got out at just under $50, a good price for a meal this good.