Dine Out This Week at Oakwater American Bistro in Granite Bay
5540 Douglas Boulevard, Suite 110, Granite Bay, 916-872-1517, oakwaterbistro.com
Chef-Owner Daniel Cote’s warm, earthy-elegant interior sets the mood for an upscale yet unpretentious dining experience that ranges from hearty offerings like steak frites, grass-fed beef burgers, and Ōra King salmon to lighter, plant-based plates like quinoa bowls and barley risotto.
We started the evening with appetizers, including halloumi fries—a sophisticated riff on pub-style mozzarella sticks (these ones made with cheese from Long Dream Farm in Lincoln). Colorfully presented alongside sliced pears, basil pesto, and pomegranate seeds, the crispy, lightly fried exterior and briny interior will have you saying goodbye to frozen mozzarella sticks forever.
To prove a point, I ordered crispy Brussels sprouts. My tablemates immediately made the “bitter beer face” upon hearing my order. I was happy to shoot them back the “I told you so” face as they repeatedly dipped the sprouts into Chef Daniel’s spicy-sweet honey Sriracha aioli. Oh, how I love being right…
Next came the beet salad featuring three different varieties of the nutritious, delicious veggie (Chioggia, golden, and red), plus sliced pears, walnuts, and arugula in a champagne vinaigrette. Talk about the type of salad that would be perfect for brunch with a sweet pain perdu, as an entrée at lunch, or—in this case—as a prelude to the main meal.
If you want to test a chef’s skill set, order a pork chop. Sending out a moist and tender one takes talent and preparation, and I have no qualms sending overcooked chops right back to the kitchen. This particular bone-in pork chop was among the best I’ve had—so much so that I asked Chef Daniel if he used a sous vide. “Pan seared” he shot back with a smile. The apple-infused chop crowning a cloud of mashed potatoes, roasted squash, apples, and pumpkin seeds was the envy of the table.
Because we have access to wild-caught salmon, I urge people to refrain from farmed salmon and instead pay the extra dollars only when wild is in season…or don’t order it. After reading up on the Ōra King served at Oakwater, however, I’m ready to make a concession. It has sustainable, certifiable provenance, and it doesn’t hurt that Chef Daniel’s preparation with citrus relish is damn good.
For dessert, I recommend the house-made pot de crème, but really you can’t wrong with anything at Placer County’s newest—and possibly best—bistro.
Hours: 8 a.m.-2 p.m. (Sunday); closed Monday; 11 a.m.-8 p.m. (Tuesday-Saturdy); 11 a.m.-9 p.m. (Friday); 8 a.m.-9 p.m. (Saturday)
Try This: Crispy Brussels Sprouts, Beet Salad, Duck Fat Fries, Bourbon Burger, Ōra King Salmon, Bone-In Pork Chop, Spaghetti Bolognese, Muffuletta, Ricotto Souffle Pancakes, Avocado Toast, Seasonal Dessert
Drinks: Full bar; beer, wine, and cocktails
Heads-Up: Local, organic menu; spacious patio; happy hour (Tuesday-Sunday) from 2-5 p.m.; private dining room; vegan and gluten-free options; weekend brunch with bottomless mimosas; everything made in-house (pasta, desserts, etc.) except for bread and meat products; lunch served between 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; kids’ menu; catering available
By Lorn Randall // photos by Menka Belgal