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boulder: oak at fourteenth

It used to be when someone would suggest a mediocre place to meet for a meal, I’d say “sure”, because I wanted to be agreeable and nice and easy. Well, after years of walking away from a meal wondering why I wasted good money on it, I have decided not to do that anymore. Screw that. I’m lucky to live near a town (city) full of terrific restaurants. Usually, our problem is deciding where to go as we run down the list of favorites. A few months ago, my pal Kathya sent me a text that she and her husband had eaten at Oak, and that it was fantastic. So one day Jeremy and I were looking for a place to enjoy a late lunch and I said, “Let’s try Oak.”

oak at fourteenth and pearl

outdoor seating for the days of finer weather

Oak sits on the corner of Pearl and Fourteenth Streets in downtown Boulder. It’s been there for a while and I remember having lunch at Oak a few years ago with a friend, but nothing more than that. There was a destructive fire, Oak re-opened, and I began hearing great things about their food. It’s got a clean, contemporary, open interior with a main dining room and a smaller adjacent dining room. From the main dining room, you have a view into the open kitchen, the extensive bar, or out the picture windows onto Pearl Street’s shenanigans.

housemade passion fruit and lemongrass soda (jeremy’s cocktail in background)

On our first visit to Oak, we hit their midday menu (2:30-5:30 pm) and the first thing that sucked me in was the housemade passion fruit and lemongrass soda. Jeremy got a “surprise me” cocktail from the bar and I think he wasn’t so thrilled with the surprise. My soda was not overly sweet and beautifully passion fruity. The lemongrass was fairly understated, but… PASSION FRUIT! I have a soda about once every six months, yet Oak managed to list two housemade sodas that I cannae resist: passion fruit, and ginger beer. The ginger beer was spot on spicy, fresh, not too sweet, peppy – pretty much the second best I’ve had (first is Rachel’s Ginger Beer which I thoroughly enjoyed at Delancey in Seattle). And then there were the pickles…

holy mother of whoa, fried pickles with green goddess aioli

shaved kale and honeycrisp apple salad with togarashi, parmesan, and candied almonds

fried padrons on sausage and harissa

Over the course of a couple of visits, we sampled a few of the appetizers or small plates Oak had on offer. Let me confess, we have ordered the fried pickles every time, because they are THAT GOOD. The pickle slices are crisp and dilly and thick and big, coated in a crunchy, hot batter. It is my favorite item on the menu and that is saying a lot because the food at Oak is pretty much outstanding. Something so simple as a shaved kale salad was prepared to perfection. The padron peppers were lightly charred and served on a bed of aromatic sausage and delightful harissa. The menu has an impressive variety without being overwhelmingly ridiculous or underwhelmingly bland like most chain restaurants. It was tough choosing among the entrées.

shrimp po’ boy with champagne mango, spicy sambal, cilantro aioli

grilled double cheeseburger, tender belly farm bacon, gruyère, harissa aioli

As our first time dining at Oak was a late lunch, we both had sandwiches on the brain. My shrimp po’ boy arrived looking like a brightly colored confetti sandwich. The shrimp were tender, juicy, and sweet (i.e. fresh) coated in a crunchy cornmeal-based batter. There was spice, crunch, tang, heat, and creamy smoothness in each bite. Also, they use some sort of buttery, velvety bun that melts in your mouth. Heaven in each bite. Jeremy’s burger was dripping with beefy goodness. It had that distinct smoky flavor off the grill paired with salty bacon, melted gruyère, peppy harissa, and arugula all on that buttery bun. I was becoming a little obsessed.

chicken fried steak sandwich with gravy, fried egg, and arugula

pappardelle with winter root vegetables, braised short ribs, and brussels sprouts

seriously fabulous

Our second visit was timed with dinner. While Jeremy went the sandwich route again, I tried the pasta. Actually, I don’t know that Jeremy knew it was a sandwich, as it was listed as chicken fried steak. Whether it is plated as chicken fried steak or stuffed into a sandwich, you are in good hands at Oak and I’m certain it’s going to be good either way. Their tater tots are a mouth-treat: cubes of fluffy, soft potato, deep fried and lightly seasoned – they are as fun as they are delectable. As for my pappardelle, I was torn between two or three dishes and my server recommended this one. I’m so glad he did, because the pasta was cooked perfectly al dente and it arrived swimming in the heady broth of the braised short ribs. The dish was dotted with diced root vegetables roasted to an earthy sweetness, fried brussels sprouts leaves, and shreds of delicate short rib meat. It was magical. So much so that when Jeremy and I traded plates halfway through our meal, I took a bite of his sandwich (it was good) and then asked for my plate back.

housemade root beer float w brownie bits, cookie chunks, and pretzels

We shared a root beer float for dessert the first time – we were just too full of savory goodness the second time to get dessert. Ordering the root beer float means that I have unwittingly (yet happily) sampled all three of Oak’s housemade sodas, and they are wonderful. But if you pour the root beer over vanilla ice cream with chocolate chip cookie and brownie and pretzels, that’s something else entirely. That’s something amazeballs.

I have yet to find anything at Oak that I don’t like. More likely than not, theirs is the kind of fare I tend to love. It’s a casual atmosphere that brings creativity to you in a glass or on a plate. I like the eclectic mix of flavor accents from other cultures or a funky twist on a classic recipe. The food arrives hot, the service is polite, prompt, and friendly. I think Oak is filling the hole in my heart that The Pinyon left when they closed. It is fast becoming a favorite of ours.

Oak is open for lunch (Monday-Saturday 11:30a to 2:30p), midday (Monday-Sunday 2:30p to 5:30p), dinner (Monday-Sunday 5:30p to 10:00p), and late night (Thursday-Saturday 10:00p to 12:00a).

Oak at Fourteenth
1400 Pearl Street
Boulder, CO 80302
Ph: (303) 444-3622

Oak at Fourteenth is on Facebook.
Follow @oakatfourteenth on Twitter.

Full Disclosure: No comps for the chomps – totally 100% my opinionated opinion.

10 nibbles at “boulder: oak at fourteenth”

  1. Alison says:

    One time we met family members in Boulder and they suggested The Cheesecake Factory. That was a sad day. At least they paid for it.

    I remember walking past this place not long after the fire, but other than that, it was not on my radar. Until now. Thanks as always for letting us know about good food! Right now I want that kale salad, but it all looks great.

  2. Adrienne says:

    MMMM looks amazing! I’ve been wanting to go there!

  3. Fabiana says:

    Shrimp, champagne and mango…..sounds good!!!!!

  4. Jill says:

    Sounds like a must try place! We prefer linner (our word for a late lunch/early dinner). yum

  5. Denise Dewire says:

    Jen, just curious as to which camera you used taking these shots? I’m looking at getting something smaller then my Canon 5dII to carry around. Thought you might be using something smaller then a DSLR? Thanks.

  6. Abbe@This is How I Cook says:

    I am in total agreement with you. We were just discussing this last night after having a perfectly awful meal at a Mexican restaurant that we were sorry we shelled out the pesos for. And as for Oak-I think we ordered the same things. The kale salad is delicious, the pickles, the poboy… wish we lived in Boulder!

  7. Kim says:

    Those fried pickles are ridiculously good. 8

  8. Francesca says:

    What did you think of the tater tots? I didn’t like them. I looooved the kale salad though!

  9. jenyu says:

    Alison – I went to the Cheesecake Factory in Boulder with a couple once. Never been back and don’t talk to those people anymore either. Go figure ;)

    Adrienne – I really like them (I’ve been back a few times since).

    Fabiana – it’s lovely!

    Jill – I like linner too :)

    Denise – I shoot my “stealth” shots with my Nikon D700. It’s a dSLR and it’s not small, but it’s not huge like my D3X. I like it for the way it handles low light and dynamic range and that I can shoot in RAW without producing a ginormous file size :)

    Abbe – it’s such a bummer when you get a bad resto :(

    Kim – I know!!! xo

    Francesca – I’m meh on the tater tots. They were okay, but everything else was pretty amazing.

  10. dave herz says:

    Thanks for the great post. I need to try the Shrimp Po Boy. They just added a ramen dish. Have you tried it?

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