That a culinary impresario such as Steven Oakley still serves shrimp corndogs, meatloaf, and butternut-squash soup nearly 12 years after he opened his first solo effort may seem curious in a culinary scene that lauds the latest and trendiest. But Oakley is hardly resting on his laurels. His kitchen puts out dishes with multiple dazzling elements, such as short ribs with Maytag bleu-cheese poppers and both a red-pepper romesco sauce and hazelnut pesto. The bric-a-brac–heavy country French decor may want for a makeover, but this date-night and anniversary draw offers the consistent comfort of an old friend’s house. The polish is on the plates: the tidy bundle of the Seven Greens salad; the potato tower encasing risotto next to golden fillets of tilapia.
SIDE AFFAIRS: With so much promised with each main, it would be easy to miss the delectable macaroni with pesto and goat cheese or the fried Brussels sprouts dressed up with bacon-honey butter.
SWEET TRICKS: Equally complex are Oakley’s elegantly plated confections such as the banana cream pie with swirls of banana-cheesecake filling and peanut-butter powder.
OFF THE NOOK: Oakley now shows his prowess at small-plates cuisine in a new alcove inside the door, offering such playful treats as basil-fed escargot and gyro meatballs, all for under $8.
PREVIOUS MENTIONS: Best Restaurants 2004–2008, 2010–2011, 2013
1464 W. 86th St., 317-824-1231, oakleysbistro.com
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This article appeared in the May 2014 issue.