Described as a modern take on a traditional steakhouse, Oak Steakhouse will open in Alpharetta’s Avalon complex October 29th. (Friends and family will get a preview on October 27th.) Owned by the Indigo Road restaurant group in Charleston, Oak has been open in South Carolina for about ten years, but the Georgia location will have its own unique menu.
“The owner [Steve Palmer] felt the Atlanta dining scene was a little more ready for something different,” executive chef Chad Anderson says. “In Charleston, it’s more of a ‘if it’s not broke, don’t fix it’ mentality.”
Oak at Avalon will start off serving dinner only and add Sunday brunch the second week. It will feature a “Kimball House-kind of beverage program,” with craft cocktails unique to Atlanta, says Anderson, who brings experience working for Rathbun Restaurants, Rocket Farms Restaurants (the Optimist and King & Duke), and Craft Atlanta. He offers some insight into his menu below.
How long have you been with Oak Steakhouse?
About six months. I was at Oak in Charleston for a month. I spent the other five months at the other restaurants in the group, like the MacIntosh in Charleston. I got to get a feel for the company and the culture. It was very much like a Danny Meyer culture. Everyone is very respectful. There’s no throwing things or yelling in the kitchen.
How did your experience working at the Optimist, Rathbun’s, and other big Atlanta restaurants influence your plans for Oak?
I always revert back to things I learned with Kevin Rathbun. Kevin took me under his wing. We used to go to the farmers market where produce companies buy their produce. It takes time and effort, but it’s almost half the cost, and you can handpick the stuff you like. I take something away from every group and every chef. It’s definitely influenced my cooking style.
How did you go about creating the menu?
We have five core steaks—two dry-aged, three wet-aged. All are made of Certified Angus Beef, and all are prime, meaning they’re from the top 2 percent of beef producers in U.S. Those are all the same product, cut, and weight as you’d find at the Charleston location. Everything beyond that (salads, small plates) is different. Some items might have the same name, like steak tartar, but mine is made with different ingredients and has different plating.
There are a couple of staples that we’re going to try to mimic, but I’m going to be doing some handmade pasta for small plates. We’ll have pork shoulder ravioli, agnolotti stuffed with butternut squash and finished with sorghum, Benton’s bacon, and fried sage leaves for fall. We’re doing a gnudi—a cousin to gnocchi but not made with potato. We curdle the milk and make own ricotta cheese. We strain it through a cheese cloth to catch the curd and make that into a dough with Parmesan cheese and egg.
Tell me about some of the salads and sides.
You won’t find a Caesar salad on our menu. There’s nothing wrong with it. We just wanted to showcase a little more obscure ingredients. We’re dealing with all local purveyors for lettuces and vegetables. We’ll have five salads, [including] an arugula salad, and a linear salad on a wooden board with a line of shaved vegetables lightly dressed.
What about seafood?
There will be cooked and raw oysters on the half shell and a crudo plate appetizer, two fish entrees (swordfish and grouper)—one grilled and one pan-seared. Both will be cut from a whole fish and sourced as close as possible, probably from the coast of Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida. One’s more Asian inspired with a dashi broth, pepper stir-fry, and faro verde made with a sweet glaze from tamarind.
Are you making the desserts in-house as well?
I’m still looking for a local pastry chef. Until I find one, I will be the pastry chef. The desserts will all be made in house. including ice creams. I’m making an apple pecan Colette (free-form tart) with vanilla bean ice cream, buttermilk pie, flourless chocolate cake with pistachio ice cream, banana-peanut butter cream pie, and a candy bar.
What’s for brunch?
Well, they don’t do brunch at Oak in Charleston at all. We’ll have Southern favorites: steak and eggs; poutine; pork belly and bone marrow bread pudding with poached eggs; chicken and waffles; huevos rancheros, steak frites; a breakfast sandwich; salads; and shrimp and grits. We make our own sausage and gravy [for the] biscuits.
Anything else we should know?
We’re also doing a bar menu with a lobster roll, fried clam roll, roasted bone marrow, and grilled octopus—things you won’t find on the dinner menu. We’ll have a charcuterie program with house-made pates and charcuterie, and a cheese plate featuring all Georgia cheeses.