A new restaurant and bar in Soulard offers a decidedly sophisticated approach to a night out in the neighborhood, just a stone’s throw from the Anheuser-Busch Brewery. Oaked opened on Feb. 15, serving new American cuisine and a beverage program that features, wine, whiskey and more. The concept comes from area residents and proprietors Venessa and Christopher Schwarz along with Anne and John Cochran.
“There weren’t any grown-up places to go grab a drink nearby,” says Venessa. “Our concept was really about using all of the spaces in the building to create an experience that included fine dining with a music-based lounge, a dynamic bar and a New Orleans-style patio.”
Oaked fills the space previously occupied by Lynch Street Tavern, with around 170 seats across two stories and two patios. The first floor features a speakeasy-inspired bar and lounge, while the second floor holds the main dining area. Venessa and Anne designed the rooms, outfitting them with handpicked chandeliers, emerald green velvet curtains and plush leather seats to lend a formal, intimate feel to the interior.
Stephan Ledbetter, who previously worked for Gamlin Restaurant Group, is Oaked's executive chef, with Christopher Horton serving as the sous chef. Chef Carl Hazel, who is currently with The Shaved Duck, also spends time on the line during weekend services. Prior to opening, the team developed the menu over 10 seven-course dinners, during which 70 items were tested on a variety of guests.
“I would say it’s contemporary cuisine that pulls from many cultures,” Ledbetter says. “The menu will rotate regularly depending on what’s available from farmers, and everything is made in house, including our pastas. We have substantial gluten-free and vegan selections.”
Favorite items that made the cut for the debut food menu a butternut squash soup that Venessa describes as “a bowl of sunshine.” The vibrant bowl comes topped with sage, crème fraîche, chile oil and pecans. Additional highlights include Devilish Eggs with squash, parsnip and beet; scallops with risotto, grapefruit, chimichurri and brown butter; and fettuccine with basil, tomato, burrata, balsamic and pine nut.
Carlos Rivas, who previously managed the bar at Gamlin Whiskey House, developed the beverage program. From the bar, choose from a growing wine list that currently includes around 101 selections, all available by the glass. More than 80 whiskeys also await alongside two different cocktail lists featuring classics and in-house crafted options.
“The menu’s about letting the ingredients really speak for themselves rather than being masked by other things. We’re keeping things simple and just doing it well,” Rivas says. “Everything’s fresh, made by hand and well-balanced.”
Highlights from the cocktail list include a blood orange Old Fashioned with Jefferson’s, Solerno Blood Orange, luxardo syrup and Dolin Vermouth. Another popular pick, the Paloma Rosada, consists of El Mayor Reposado, fresh lime, agave nectar and grapefruit.
“We’re just excited to share Oaked as an experience,” Venessa says. “You can come here and have one of the best meals in St. Louis and some of the best wines and whiskeys. There’s not a spot to sit that isn’t beautiful, and the service is top notch.”
Oaked is currently open Wednesday through Sunday from 4pm to midnight.
Oaked, 1031 Lynch St., Soulard, St. Louis, Missouri, 314.305.8647, oakedstl.com