One of the best steaks I’ve had recently was at Goin’ Coastal, a seafood restaurant on Main Street in downtown Canton. It was a special that night. Wasn’t even available next time we went. I love these little surprises. So, when I went to the Oak Steakhouse at Avalon in Alpharetta, I was expecting the quality of these surprises, but done routinely.
The evening got off to a tenuous start. The appetizer list is extensive and tempting. We opted for the Pan-Seared Scallops. These are presented over fennel that is covered in a saffron apple glaze, as well as a Benton’s bacon jam. It was quite good, but my jaw dropped when 2 scallops arrived. At a price of $17, this was unreasonable. And you know my intolerance of spouting off where you get your bacon. Benton’s is just a little ‘ole hog butcher on Highway 411 just outside of Madisonville, Tennessee. Just give us a good bacon. You don’t have to get your creds from a name. We can actually taste good bacon.
But, back to the beef. This is a steakhouse and Oak boasts a selection of Certified Angus Beef (“CAB”) that includes two market-priced dry-aged beef options. My group was fine with non-dry-aged steaks, including the 16 oz. CAB boneless rib-eye, which was excellent and finished off hastily. I opted for the CAB 5 oz. carved tenderloin, specifically because it came with a Béarnaise sauce and potatoes. The Béarnaise sauce was good, but the little 5 oz tenderloin could have stood on its own. I want to add that the waiter did well by emphasizing to what degree of doneness we should order our steaks. I never order beyond medium anyway, but I appreciate this attention to detail.
As an alternative to steak, R. had the Grilled Colorado Lamb Rack which is crusted with dijon herbs, and is served over watercress, pee wee potatoes, and a tomato confit; all of which is pulled together with a mouth watering bordelaise. High marks for this dish. More people should eat lamb and if it takes going to a steakhouse to get it, by all means do so.
R. ordered the brussels sprouts as a side dish which inflamed another pet peeve of mine – brussels sprouts. The only thing that bugs me more than spouting off the name of your hog butcher is serving brussels sprouts – again. Restaurateurs have been in love with brussels sprouts for about 10 years now and I’m growing weary of it. Sure, it’s a healthy, if somewhat hearty and filling, option. Just wow me with another vegetable; maybe offer only a seasonal vegetable.
The wine selection at Oak is excellent, although I had my usual cocktail; in this case, a tea-infused bombay gin mixed with simple syrup, lemon juice and soda. This simple cocktail was superb and I highly recommend it.
I suspect the menu at Oak is a bit too long and ambitious with all items besides steak. The salads look ordinary and the prices for salads, sides and appetizers are a little high. Remember, we are paying way up for that beef already. But, we enjoyed our steaks at Oak. Do they serve excellent beef routinely as I alluded to in the first paragraph? I look forward to a 2nd trip. I’m very curious to see if they can hook me with something I can’t live without, especially in their price range. My 5 oz. tenderloin was tasty, even excellent, but for $25.00, can I live without it? Indeed, I specifically chose the 5 oz. tenderloin because it came with a smattering of potatoes therefore saving me from having to order and pay separately for some other side dish. I figured it was the best priced item on the menu. I laughed later when I read a revue of Oak by a writer with Atlanta Magazine who said almost exactly the same thing.
I want to give them a second visit though.