Brunch is hands down my favorite meal and I’m always on the lookout for finding a new place to Sunday brunch, so when I was invited to attend the VIB (very important brunchers) event at Oak & Stone this past Sunday to sample the new brunch menu, I was on the phone calling my babysitter faster than you can say eggs Benedict.
Oak & Stone opened in fall 2016…I had heard about it opening, but I haven’t been out in the restaurant scene lately, so this was the first time I’d actually stepped foot into the place. Billing itself as a “neighborhood style beer and pizza joint with a modern twist geared towards great brews and gourmet tavern fare,” it’s a one of a kind place in this area of town. Operating under the TableSeide Restaruant Group, (which if you don’t know, is owned by the Seidenstickers and is the corporate identity behind Muse, Banyan Cafe, Libby’s Cafe + Bar, Louie’s Modern, The Francis and Lbar) it’s one of the few local restaurants in the UTC area. It’s not only a cool place to be… the atmosphere, the food, the drinks, the music, the people… but when you dine there, you’re supporting a local business and family so that’s always a double plus in my book.
Let’s talk about the tasting. It was delicious and I got to learn so much about the restaurant. That’s probably my favorite thing about tastings — not only do you get to eat, but you get to know the ins and outs of the restaurant, the stories behind the food, the chef, it’s all so cool and you leave with such a great appreciation for what goes on there. I love learning and I love eating… so it’s the perfect pairing for me.
I’ll run you through the entire tasting and let me tell you, every single item was delicious. When the tasting was over, I really had a hard time deciding what I would order the next time I come back (but I’ll let you know at the end).
**PS — I’m not a food blogger. I’ve attended and written about a few dozen food events in my life, but I’m no foodie. So, no judging my lack of foodie verbiage. I’ll tell you what I ate. I’ll tell you if it was good. And I’ll try to explain what it was. Just trust me if I say it’s good 🙂
So, it was a fun, family style tasting with a few other journalists and bloggers in town. We started off with drinks. I’m a huge fan of a Bloody Mary. This was a good Bloody Mary. (see, #reviewing).
First up, the sausage gravy and garlic knots. Y’ALL. I am a huge fan of gravy and garlic knots and I’ve never thought to put the two together. Side note — you’re going to hear me say that a lot in this post… because no joke, the entire menu was filled with literally all of my favorite things put together in a meal. The gravy was UNBELIEVABLE. Head Chef Mike Yoder is Amish, so I mean, he knows what’s up when it comes to comfort food. This was like… gourmet comfort food. Buttered garlic knots, housemate pepper sausage gravy, sunny eggs and the most perfect breakfast potatoes… I’m about to start a group text right now to see who will head out there with me next Sunday.
Next up was one of their popular “brunch pizzas.” They had us try the bendedict pizza — I love eggs benedict and I love pizza. This was a match made in heaven for me. Basically, if you put egg or bacon on anything, I’ll probably eat it. So putting egg on a pizza … omg. The pizza had the perfect crust (a good mix of thin, but crunchy). The perfect cheese. Perfect flavors — this particular brunch pizza has garlic sauce, white cheddar, Taylor pork, crispy bacon, caramelized onions, sunny eggs and a house hollandaise, all with a sunny egg on top. Seriously… I just started that group text for next Sunday.
Next, to switch things up a little bit while we were waiting for the next brunch item, they brought out one of their most popular regular menu items, the wings. If you know me, you know I love football and when you watch football, you eat wings (or Chick-fil-a). So I’ve eaten a lot of wings in my day and these were fantastic. There is only one wing flavor available on the menu, which I’ve never seen before, but after tasting them, I see why. There is no need for any other option when you’ve had this wing. They soak their wings overnight in a secret brine recipe, then they are slow roasted in a wood oven, topped with a hot butter sauce and blue cheese crumbles. The flavor was so full and naturally hot, but the sauce, the dipping sauce is what brings it all together. It’s a ginger honey mustard dipping sauce and whoa. Those are some flavors that even if your team lost the national championship, you could reassess the good things in your life and realize the wings you just ate were one of those things.
Okay back to brunchy food. Next, we tried the Bloody Burger. Now, I’m not a fan of burgers. I know that’s really weird, I just don’t like burgers that much. But this burger did have an egg on it, so I was down for trying. And it was surprisingly good. The burger features a golden steak sauce, swiss cheese, crispy bacon, lettuce and tomato and a sunny egg all on a brioche bun. The fries were also delicious.
And last, but not least, we tried the highly anticipated bourbon barrel French toast. Now I’m a connoisseur of all things sweet and carb-tastic, so I was very excited for this. I think it’s pretty hard to 1) screw up French toast (although, I have…) and 2) make a French toast unique. They did not screw it up and they did in fact, make it unique. It’s made with brioche bread, dipped in Kentucky bourbon barrel batter, garnished with candied bacon (which I forgot to mention, we got a plate of bacon before the French toast was brought out, to sample it alone and yep, this bacon was good.) So anyways, what set this French toast apart from the rest was obviously the Kentucky bourbon barrel batter, but the pecan butter and cinnamon maple syrup really brought those comfort flavors together. The pecan butter was unreal. I need that on everything I eat in life.
It literally seemed as if every thing they did at this restaurant was combine two things I love oh so much and put it on a brunch menu, made just for me. So you better believe, I’m going back, and I think you should go, too.
How I suggest to order — I like to have my protein and a more balanced meal for my main course, but I love ordering something sweet at the end, even if it is breakfast 🙂 I’d go with the sausage and gravy knots or the benedict brunch pizza and then order the french toast at the end, to split with the table 🙂
In addition to having an outstanding brunch menu (and lunch and dinner), the restaurant has a beer wall, featuring 56 different brews, all at the mercy of your own pour. The wall is powered by the iPourIt system, which works like this: you wear a bracelet that is registered to your personal tab and you sample and pour at your own discretion. It charges by the ounce. This way, you can actually experiement and sample different brews before commiting to one. For someone like me, who isn’t much of a beer drinker, but enjoys a good craft beer over a Bud Light, I never really know what to order. (This is me at a bar…”Um, I’ll have a local IPA.” lol). So this makes it more of an enjoyable, less intimidating experience finding which beer I want to enjoy.
Besides the delectable food and overall great experience, I got a fun interview with head chef, Mike Yoder. Get to know more about him in our interview below:
How many years have you been a chef?
I have been a professional chef for around 20 years, although I have been working for over 23 years in restaurants/food service.
What was your experience before Oak & Stone?
My experience before Oak & Stone was mostly in fine dining, I have worked for some of the most prestigious restaurants in Sarasota. I cut my teeth with Mark Cariguillo at Chelsea Grill on Main St, was Chef de Cuisine for Epicurean Life Group. Epicurean Life was where I learned the most since I was working at Fred’s, Morton’s Special Events Catering and managed the kitchen of two banquet facilities. After Epicurean Life I took a position at Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion, where I was able to learn more of the financials of the business as well as grow technically. I opened the Sarasota location and held the position of Sous Chef and after a few years I was promoted to Chef Partner of Roy’s Philadelphia. I traveled a lot with the company, working with every Roy’s on the east coast at one point or another, some multiple times throughout my tenure. This allowed me to work side by side with some of the most amazingly talented chef’s in the nation from within the company, as well as out of my concept. Being involved with the community through events, has allowed me to learn from some top chefs as well. Especially when I was living in Philly, professional and famous chefs are every where.
Where do you get inspiration for your menu and specials?
I do a lot of research and a lot of eating. That is where I get most of my ideas — nothing gets the juices flowing like watching Food Network, enjoying a craft beer and eating nothing…I mean don’t eat a thing and just wait. Eventually you will start thinking of all sorts of ideas and possibilities of items you would want to create. That’s when I pull out my notebook and start drawing plates and writing out ideas. I also take a lot of pictures I can go back to reference. I take all my past experiences and what I have learned and try to apply then to new trends and favorite foods that we all enjoy. I have taken simple food and refined them.
Tell me how Eggs Benedict Pizza came about…
LOL, the Eggs Benedict Pizza came from a morning that we were trying out new menu ideas for brunch and I had some extra hollandaise in a squeeze bottle. I was rummaging through the pizza station trying to find something to make for myself to eat and then it happened, the Eggs Benedict Pizza was born. I would say the idea came from both Anthony and myself. We do a lot of collaborating and I respect his honesty.
If you were any item on your brunch menu, what would you be and why?
If I were a brunch item… I would be the Sausage Gravy and Garlic Knots, the dish really speaks to me. I am Amish, so the whole comfort food thing of a big bowl of breakfast sausage smothered in white gravy over fluffy, toasted garlic knots is just up my alley.
Describe your brunch menu in a song…
If I were to pick a song title to reflect it I would say…..something like a Weird Al song titled, “Girl’s just wanna have Brunch” (Girl’s just wanna have fun). We do things differently, not normal, and it’s surprisingly well taken. We do have some of the normal stuff that keeps the unadventurous happy, but what we enjoy is that we offer a lot that is unconventional and that keeps a lot of people coming back for more.
Bottom line: the food is AMAZING. Everything I sampled, literally made my taste buds sing and filled my belly with happiness. The brunch drinks are good. They have a million craft beers to choose from. The staff is super friendly. There’s indoor and outdoor seating options and the overall design of the space is modern, clean and has great lighting (you know, to photograph your food for Insta). The music is amazing (when I was paying attention, I remembering hearing some Radiohead and Bon Iver), so overall, it’s just a great place to be.
The brunch menu is offered Sunday’s from 11:30-3:00 p.m. with $10 bottomless mimosas and Bloody Mary’s. So go, get some garlic knots and benedict pizzas, throw down some bloody’s or a beer and enjoy yourself. And with Mother’s Day right around the corner, this is the perfect spot to treat her to an amazing brunch that will for sure leave her taste buds super happy 🙂
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