Olive + Oak, Webster Groves, MO – Gnocchi Doke

The St. Louis restaurant scene was pretty impressive in 2015.  If you can believe it, the city will crush 2015 with and even more impressive 2016.  One of my new favorite places to spend the evening is Olive + Oak.

Olive + Oak is a neighborhood restaurant in Webster Groves but should be a destination if you love food and drinks.  They focus heavily on locally sourced ingredients and change a large portion of their menu regularly.  DISCLAIMER:  If I talk about a dish you really want, it may not be there the night you go.

When I first arrived, I saw that my prayers had been answered and they serve fried cheese curds.  Ever since I lived in Oregon for work, I have been obsessed with them.  No trip to the coast was complete without a visit to the Tillamook Cheese Factory.  Fresh ones are also fun since they squeak on your teeth when you bite them.  Olive + Oak’s are lightly fried and served with a charred scallion and chile aioli.   Just the right amount of salt in this dish and they are the perfect snack.

Cheese Curds

For those that are following me on Instagram (shame on you if you don’t), you know I love cocktails.  If you haven’t heard of Chelsea Little, this is another great reason to get your butt over to Olive + Oak.  Chelsea has been one of my trusted “spirit guide’s” ever since her days at Libertine.   I would be hard pressed to know how many drinks she has crafted for me since I met her.  I’ll admit I’m a “Little” biased (get it 🙂 ), but I feel like I have watched her grow up as a mixologist.  For old times sake, I started off with a bartender’s choice:

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As always, it was a hit.  I also sampled something from the menu: the #69.  Chelsea was never one to name her drinks so I find it humorous they are now just numbers.  The torched rosemary adds so much to the nose of this cocktail.  I can see why it made the cut to be featured on the menu.

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Now back to the food!  When I visited, I narrowed my entree choices down to two items.  The scallops or the gnocchi.  Seafood was calling me that night so I went with the scallops.  The scallops were cooked perfectly, but they were served on a bean puree.  Although flavorful, it wasn’t something my palette was wow’d by.

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When dining with others, you can politely ask to sample their dish as well and try even more of the menu. The tenderloin was much more up my alley.  It was also cooked perfectly but in this case the meat was allowed to be the star of the dish.    IMG_1011

One of the biggest surprises from Olive + Oak  was their kids menu.  There were so many more choices than most places.  As I looked around, there were several families enjoying meals together.  So parents, it’s clear that this is a place to treat the whole family.  As you can see by the picture, the noodles are superhero approved!  Also the milk glasses were super cute!

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Normally this would be the part of the post where I ride off into the sunset and wrap things up.   Not this time!  Two decisions from my first visit still haunted me.  One, I think I should have picked the gnocchi. Two, I passed on dessert.  So stick with me for a slightly longer post, It gave me a chance to correct those sins and I promise you there is valuable information to follow.

This time I visited with no child in tow so I took my more natural seat at the bar.  The bar is nice and a focal point of the small space.  Of course more “bartender’s choice” cocktails were consumed:

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Chelsea’s concoctions continued to be on point and just what I needed.  Then something magical happened!  I ordered the gnocchi and it was even better than expected.  Feast your eyes on this:

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This my friends is their gnocchi.  The texture was light and fluffy.  Almost like individually wrapped gifts of potato awesomeness that you don’t want to ever end.  This dish is killer and I want more!  A version of it seems to be on the menu each night so I’m looking forward to trying future flavorful pairings.

I also ordered a dessert that brought hope back to the world: the butterscotch pot de creme.

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You know the stereotypical depressed human gorging themselves on ice cream? They only choose that because they have not had this dessert.  It will make you certain the sun will rise again tomorrow and things will be OK.

There you have it.  Clearly, Olive + Oak is an A in my book.  I look forward to more gnocchi, butterscotch pot de creme, and Chelsea cocktails.  If you see someone sitting at the bar with all three, it might just be me.

Dive 2 Five Scale – 3.  As I have stated it’s a great neighborhood hot spot and also very family friendly.  The sound level is elevated so fussy kids won’t be noticed but not so loud that you can’t hold a conversation.  There are a couple TV’s where the bar tables can see but they are placed so great if you are at the bar.  It’s OK, you have better things to focus on while you are there: your date (if you have one), the drinks (you better have one), and the food (you better order some).

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