I Finally Ate at Oxheart...and It Was Pretty Good
When I first started interviewing for this job, Katharine Shillcutt had just published her final review, and it was of Oxheart. From the moment I read it, I knew I had to get to this idiosyncratic little James Beard Award nominee in the warehouse district. By the time I finally got there, last week, I'm afraid my expectations were beyond high. I anticipated that I would be blown away by the concept, the food and the oft-mentioned tweezers, when, in fact, it was just a perfectly pleasant dining experience, nothing more, nothing less.
Wasn't wild about the stew, but damn I love that bowl!
The early autumn menu and the garden menu both feature a holdover from summer: Two massive spinach leaves stuffed with potatoes pureed with "Thai aromatics," which tasted much like mint and basil. This was served on a plate splattered with lightly minted yogurt and dried kale. Before you can eat it, a waiter will come around with a bowl of roasted pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds to sprinkle on top; they give the dish a great and much needed crunch.
This appetizer-esque dish was good but not mind-blowing, which is what I'd come to expect from Oxheart after all the hype. Nearly mind-blowing, though, were the little soft pretzel balls made by chef Justin Yu's wife, Karen Man, and the accompanying mustard butter. One member of my party loved them so much that he deigned to ask the server for more. He was politely shot down.
By the time the okra course arrived, I was hungry again. My friends, who had chosen the early autumn menu, were treated to a beautiful filet of barrelfish, but some of them found it still raw in the middle and gave up on it when it failed to flake apart under the weight of their forks. I thought the flavor of the fish was strong and very appealing.
My third course consisted of cultivated mushroom and rice stew with long beans, and it was nearly too salty to eat. The mushrooms themselves were lovely, as were the sweet long beans, but the broth with rice and black beans seemed to have the salinity of the Dead Sea.