Chef Robert Bogart is expanding on a more recent culinary legacy… A legacy that began as St. Francis Restaurant in 2009. There is not another chef in the Valley who I can think of that would be more effective at the helm of the now renamed Oak on Camelback.
The part rustic, part industrial, part neighborhood hangout and restaurant, Oak on Camelback features wood-fired entrees and specialties that have been reimagined and reintroduced and are designed to delight a variety of diners. Whether you’re seeking out a fun but laid-back brunch or a fine dining experience with engaging and globally inspired dishes, you’ll find it at Oak.
Trained at the Scottsdale Culinary Institute in 2001, Chef Bogart applied his culinary expertise as executive chef at Elway’s Steakhouse at the Ritz Carlton Denver and after that, he went on to open two different restaurants in Temecula, California. Longing to return to the Valley, he did a little searching and purchased St. Francis, which already had a glorious reputation and committed following. After a one-two punch of a kitchen fire and the unknowns of the pandemic, Bogart did the smart thing and worked diligently to get Oak on Camelback opened on his own terms and with his full vision.
The beautiful contemporary brick 1950’s Harold Ekman building that houses Oak has launched into its own dedicated chapter. Much of the menu focuses on items cooked in the restaurant’s custom wood burning oven. Bogart’s expertise shines in his ability to combine flavors and textures of seasonal ingredients in the most beautiful and delicious of ways.
To kick off a meal, you may have a hard time deciding, as we did. Ultimately, we chose the roasted cauliflower and crab dip and it is designed to thrill! The tender lump crab is oak wood-fired and includes smoked cauliflower, three cheeses and chives accompanied by toasted baguettes. The appetizer is big enough for three or four people to share. We also dove into the burrata appetizer that includes toasted ciabatta bread, basil and the sweet surprise of lingonberry jam.
Personally, I am always a pushover when it comes to beets. Chef Bogart has incorporated one of the best beet salads in the Valley on the Oak menu. It includes red and gold oak roasted beets, pistachios, raisins and goat cheese. The combination of savory and sweet simply jumps off the plate in this delicious salad.
Another outstanding salad is the Oak winter mix with dried figs, dried cherries, crumbled feta, candied pecans a prickly pear vinaigrette set atop mixed greens. All salads are available with the addition of salmon, steak or chicken.
The salmon superfood entrée delivers on its promise to incorporate a fantastic variety of ingredients that define healthy eating. The salmon is set atop black rice, quinoa, squash, eggplant and roasted tomatoes, tossed with toasted almonds and sprinkled with fresh sprouts. The black rice imparts a slightly different flavor profile to the entrée, and it is outstanding.
The scallops and risotto entrée is another great choice featuring five large scallops and a wild mushroom risotto with mascarpone and chive oil. Other entrees include squid ink tagliatelle, oak-fried lamb curry, pork osso bucco, filet mignon, a variety of flatbreads, burgers and banh mi pho dip.
Street style tacos available with a variety of fillings are also a great choice if you want to try several things for dinner, or they’re a great way to incorporate several proteins into your meal.
To close out dinner, we chose the oak-fired bananas Foster – a sinfully decadent dessert with caramelly bananas and toasted walnuts with a generous scoop of vanilla gelato in the center of the banana universe.
If you’re feeling brunchy, hit up the weekend brunch at Oak where you will find a creative lox pizza on an “everything” bagel crust, thinly sliced smoked salmon, chive and dill cream cheese spread, fried capers and red onion. Or dive into the mascarpone stuffed French toast with French toasted Hawaiian sweet bread, vanilla mascarpone and maple syrup with a choice of mixed berries or banana pecan.
Oak on Camelback is located on the southeast corner of Camelback and Central at 111 East Camelback Road in Phoenix. Visit online for the full menu, directions, photos and more at http://www.oakoncamelback.com
By Lynette Carrington