Jenna Behan ‘19
Before you resort to your go-to Blue Back restaurant, you might want to consider something new. And listen up: parking here is free. Enough said, and enough with paying five dollars to park for dinner at bartaco. Oak and Park Restaurant is less than ten minutes off campus and it’s seriously good. It’s located on (get this) the corner of Park Avenue and Oak Street. Aside from the lack of creativity in their name, I give the newbie a solid thumbs up! Since its opening on Nov. 28, it has made a splash in the local American food scene. They proudly use locally sourced ingredients for nearly everything on their menu, and incorporate regional favorites for an authentic flare. Now let’s get down to business—how was the food?
To start, we ordered the Rhode Island style fried calamari. In short, I highly recommend it. The portion size was perfect for sharing and reasonably priced at about $12. It was extremely fresh and came with a delicious garlic herb-butter sauce that I was practically licking my plate clean of. For my main meal, I ordered the classic: a good old Angus beef burger, which came with muenster cheese and fresh vegetables on a locally baked brioche bun that was to die for. One word of caution: the waitress checked to make sure I wanted bacon jam on it (which was not listed on the menu), and I asked for it on the side. It was a warm mix of bacon and onions with a sweetness that was personally not to my liking. As for the burger, it was perfectly cooked and a decent size, but that didn’t stop me from inhaling the entire thing, clocking in at a personal record of ten minutes. I had the garlic chips on the side which I would recommend skipping in favor of the fries or a side salad. They were nothing special, just greasy potato chips. Another person in my party ordered the blackened fish taco, and according to her, it was better than the fish taco at the aforementioned bartaco, complete with avocado and jalapeño-lime sauce. Although technically an appetizer, the two tacos were more than enough for dinner. It came with two tacos of substantial size for only $12. The final member of my party went with the restaurant’s signature—the fried chicken and biscuit, with tabasco-honey sauce. This dish was a full plate of relatively lightly breaded chicken, with tender white meat underneath. The tabasco-honey sauce was alright, but personally I’m a ketchup gal myself. For dessert (I had to order dessert, or else I wouldn’t be fully able to write this review…right?) we ordered the milk and dark chocolate bread pudding with vanilla ice cream, and it was OK. It came out piping hot, but don’t be fooled: it was straight out of the microwave. It was spongy, and I’m not sure I liked the mix of dark and milk chocolate. But don’t be fooled by those words either—we finished the whole thing because, well, it was chocolate.
As for the service, it was top notch. Even though we had to wait for about twenty minutes after having made the reservations, our waitress came immediately over to our table, and our food came out just about as fast as it could be cooked. The atmosphere was lively and exciting, but then again how could it not be with a large full bar in the room. The crowd was a strong mix of young and old, while the wait staff were all young and fun. The menu was quite reasonably priced: all three members of my party had meals under $15. I would classify the food as upscale American comfort food, or upscale bar food and would definitely recommend it.
Jenna Behan ‘19