5656 Nelson Road, Lake Charles
Only a few short years ago, Southwest Louisiana was touted as one of the fastest growing regions in the United States. With LNG expansions and petro-chem start ups, people were flocking to our region for work opportunities. The heart of Lake Charles was well established, leaving little to choose from in terms of new housing communities, shopping and business opportunities.
Inevitably, developers focused the sprawl to the south of Lake Charles. Some builders began developing areas in preparation for what was to come. Oak Plaza, a mixed-use complex for business and events was one of the first to be completed.
However, nobody could have forecasted what we were going to endure over the next few years — changes that initiated a serious delay for every aspect of growth. But growth was going on. One restaurant, Fire & Oak, made its debut in 2020 at Oak Plaza.
Taking notice of Fire & Oak’s Sunday brunch, I figured this would be a perfect opportunity for my wife and I to spend time with Emily, our new daughter-in-law, while her husband, Dayton, completes Air Force Basic at Lackland AFB.
Oak Plaza, with its Mediterranean-style, villa-inspired architecture is home to Fire & Oak. In the approach to the restaurant, a towering old-growth oak tree canopies the cobblestone courtyard. It’s a setting for rustic outdoor dining and gatherings.
As we entered the restaurant doors, we were immediately greeted by a hostess who confirmed my reservation and escorted the three of us to a waiting indoor table. Our table was approached by a gentleman who introduced himself as Dylan and asked if we’d like to start with a beverage.
Dylan brought us a pair of brunch-essential Bloody Marys and a tall fluted glass of bubbles trailing their way to the top. The recipe for a mimosa is not a contract, as many variations allow for the use of seasonal fruits, citrus and herbs. This day, the mimosa featured gin, Prosecco and fresh lemon juice — a complex and refreshing sweet sip.
Unfortunately, the Bloody Mary fell short. While some restaurants make their Bloody Mary presentation a visual overload, with a buffet line of foods and veggies perched as a meal in a glass, this rendition was little more than mixer, along with a hint of bacon which either came through in a seasoning or an infused vodka.
However, I’m not going to let a simple beverage define the experience.
Curious about some of the dishes’ descriptions, my wife asked Dylan a few questions. In his replies, it became evident that not only was he extensively knowledgeable about the ingredients of each dish, but also knew how they came together to make a unique taste. We felt he was proud of the kitchen and liked to share stories of their creativity with the diners.
Shyla and Emily decided to start our table off with a couple of appetizers that we could share as we continued to discuss the entrée choices.
After a few moments, Dylan approached our table with a pair of dishes. With one hand, he presented an array of oysters, and with the other, two spheres of Burrata cheese, each with lightly breaded and fried coatings. The large, plump oysters nestled in a shallow buttery Rockefeller sauce of tender spinach and herbs were a great start as we transitioned to the Burrata cheese. A crack of the exterior shell revealed a warm, soft and creamy cheese, which slowly flowed into an emulsion of tomatoes and cream. There was a delicate hint of jalapeño and the zing of vinegar.
I knew what I wanted as my entree as soon as I noticed the dish on the menu. However, I had a back up in case one of the girls decided she wanted that particular dish. Emily opted for the Chef Scramble. Essentially, this is a simple and light meal of scrambled eggs, herbs and seasonal vegetables prepared at the Chef’s discretion.
My wife chose the Rise and Shine Burger. She’s not typically the type to order a burger, so I was surprised by this. But I was glad she didn’t choose the item I had been eyeing. Incorporating local baked goods from Helen St. Bakery, a coffee aioli began the base of this burger. That was topped by a thick, nicely seasoned, high-quality beef patty, layered with strips of bacon and slices of melted cheddar cheese and. It was finished with a fried egg. It made makes for a pleasant choice between breakfast and lunch.
My dining companions’ decisions left my entrée wide open for the picking. As soon as I’d read the description, I’d been locked in to the Bavette Steak and Eggs. I asked for the steak to be temped rare and the eggs cooked sunny side up.
Even though there were only three parts to the meal, the presentation was glorious. The edges of the eggs had a just-crisp singe, cracked black pepper and glistening yolk. The sliced Bavette revealed an absolutely perfect ruby red hue atop hollandaise sauce.
This was by far one of the best brunch entrees I’ve had the pleasure of eating. The flavor and tenderness of the steak was pure pleasure, while the smooth and zesty hollandaise sauce was much appreciated. Fear of gluttony prevented me from enjoying another plate. But I knew my wife already had plans for dessert.
That dessert was cheesecake: a generous slice of light and fluffy cheesecake drizzled in a raspberry compote for a tinge of tart with dollops of peanut butter cream. The three of us finished it, with only traces of crust remaining.
Fire and Oak incorporates a variety of ingredients and processes with “hints of …” This works so well, bringing mild nuances of flavors from ingredients without overpowering or masking the focus of the dish. Our server, Dylan, was fantastic. He had the skill and knowledge to answer any question.
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