OAK Long Bar + Kitchen turned five last week, and @igersboston was invited to celebrate.
OAK Long Bar + Kitchen is proof that age is merely just a number. Although celebrating its fifth birthday, this American farm-to-table brasserie is the latest iteration of a 105-year-old restaurant, nestled within the richly historic and luxurious Fairmont Copley Plaza hotel.
The space began as Copley Café in 1912, featuring a dining room and separate gentleman’s club. In 1934, it transitioned to the Merry-Go-Round Bar, aptly including a spinning table resembling a carousel. Following two more rebrandings (Plaza Bar & Dining Room and The Oak Room, respectively), the newly renovated OAK Long Bar + Kitchen emerged in 2012.
OAK Long Bar + Kitchen exudes a swanky and sophisticated vibe; it’s as if you’ve stepped into an old 1920s film, with glamorous women and dapper gentleman sipping fancy cocktails at the bar. Dimly lit, glowing chandeliers adorn the coffered ceilings, which feature ornate tiles from 1912. And, you can still see the original metal inlay from the Merry-Go-Round bar in the flooring. A woodfire hearth oven was introduced in 2012, yielding some of the menu’s best items.
Our server, Javier, originally from Cuba, has been employed since The Oak Room days. He shared incredible stories about the restaurant’s most exciting guests throughout the years – from presidents to celebrities. Before OAK, he even used to serve the Kennedys at Boston’s famous Locke-Ober restaurant (now Yvonne’s).
“It’s really an exciting place to work, especially through all of the changes,” Javier noted. “Twenty years seems like a lifetime to you, but others have been around much longer! My colleague just retired after 46 years.”
While the setting is historically preserved, the culinary experience is rather contemporary. Executive Chef Graham Lockwood brings his appreciation for locally grown food to the expansive menu at OAK Long Bar + Kitchen, accentuating New England fare. The cheeses, for example, are mostly from New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts, and the fresh seafood is, of course, from the region.
Seasonal flavors are incorporated within the thoughtfully curated dinner menu, including the newest summer fare: watermelon salad atop feta cream cheese, hearth roasted lobster from the woodfire oven, and mushroom gnocchi alongside poached egg, goat cheese and mint. With a weekly farmer’s market outside of Fairmont Copley Plaza’s doors, Chef Graham is often inspired to create specials based on the available ingredients.
Similarly, Pastry Chef Lindsay LeBlanc includes local and seasonal ingredients within her sweets, such as the summer berry cobbler, made with blackberries, strawberries and blueberries. We appreciated her creative twist on old classics, especially the deconstructed s’mores, served with WhistlePig fluff. Yes, whiskey fluff! Keep reading for a full list of our indulgences.
The carefully crafted cocktails were a highlight of the evening. The Smoked Chai Manhattan (knob creek rye, chai rum, dom benedictine) arrives to your table literally smoking and tastes incredibly smooth. Catie’s Cooler (crop cucumber vodka, basil, lemon, soda) is a bit more refreshing, and $1 per drink sale was donated to the Animal Rescue League of Boston through the end of July!
To close off the evening, Mackenzie (Mack) Cavanaugh, Bartender, stopped by with four mini Ramos Gin Fizz – sweating from the laborious “seven minutes of shaking.” He explained that the iconic New Orleans cocktail (gin, lemon juice, lime juice, egg white, sugar, cream, orange flower water and soda water), completely new to all of us, was created in 1888.
“It’s quite the workout,” he reiterated. “You’re essentially making a meringue!”
If you’re tight on time or budget, we at least recommend one cocktail at the bar. Walk through the hotel entrance if you want to feel extra swanky!
Oak Long Bar + Kitchen is open daily at 138 St. James Ave. in the heart of Copley Square, from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m., with a special brunch on Saturdays and Sundays (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.).
Hearth Roasted Lobster: heirloom tomatoes, shoshito, tarragon butter, lemon
Wild Mushroom Toast: black trumpets, ricotta, whole grain mustard
Mushroom Gnocchi: country ham, chantrelles, English peas, poached egg, goat cheese, mint
Watermelon Salad: cucumber, shoshito, Kalamata olives, feta cream cheese, sherry vinaigrette
Beer Tartare: house chips, harissa aioli, egg yolk
Pigs in a Blanket: andouille, pretzel, house mustard
Hearth Roasted Porchetta: stone fruit, panzanella salad, anson mills grits
Georges Banks Scallops: swiss chard, heirloom grits, nueske’s bacon
Boston Cream Pie: rum cream, chocolate ganache, almond crumble
Vanilla Bean Crème Brulee: blueberry, lemon crumble, almond
Housemade Pie: summer berry cobbler
S’mores: chocolate mousse, graham crackers, WhistlePig fluff
For the chance to win a $50 certificate, please return to review post on Instagram and comment the food item you want to try most and tag a friend you’d like to bring with you here! We will be randomly selecting two winners.
Disclosure: @igersboston received this meal complimentary, in exchange for an honest review and two (2) $50 gift cards, to be given away to the @igersboston Instagram community. Alyssa Hiller (@thebeaconhiller) wrote this post; thoughts are her own. Images were produced by Alyssa Hiller, Oscar Alvarez (@oscarealvarez) and Yanan Sui (@yayitsyanan).