Oaked, a new restaurant and bar in St. Louis’ Soulard neighborhood, offers a decidedly sophisticated approach to a night on the town.
The venture, which opened in February, showcases new American cuisine and a beverage program featuring wine, whiskey and more. Oaked 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 Schwarz. “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.”
With roughly 170 seats across two stories and two patios, Oaked fills the space previously occupied by Lynch Street Tavern. The first floor features a speakeasy-inspired bar and lounge; the second holds the main dining area. Venessa Schwarz and Anne Cochran designed the rooms, outfitting them with handpicked chandeliers, emerald-green velvet curtains and plush leather seats to lend a formal, intimate feel.
Stephan Ledbetter, who previously worked for St. Louis’ Gamlin Restaurant Group, serves as Oaked’s executive chef, with Christopher Horton as sous-chef. Chef Carl Hazel, currently with The Shaved Duck in St. Louis’ Tower Grove East neighborhood, 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 include a butternut squash soup that Venessa Schwarz describes as “a bowl of sunshine.” The vibrant bowl comes topped with sage, crème fraîche, chili oil and pecans. Additional highlights are 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, a former bar manager at Gamlin Whiskey House in St. Louis’ Central West End neighborhood, developed the beverage program. Oaked guests can choose from a growing wine list that currently includes roughly 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,” Rivas says. “We’re keeping things simple and just doing it well. 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 liqueur, Luxardo Sour Cherry syrup and Dolin vermouth. Another popular pick, the Paloma Rosada, consists of El Mayor Reposado agave tequila, fresh lime, agave nectar and grapefruit. Oaked makes the dreamiest spot to cozy up under a chandelier with a cocktail – or a three-course meal – before catching Dreamgirls from Stray Dog Theatre.
“We’re just excited to share Oaked as an experience,” Venessa Schwarz 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, 1031 Lynch St., St. Louis, 314-305-8647, oakedstl.com