For as long as anyone can remember, northern Hell's Kitchen has been an area desperate for some new blood. Enter White Oak, a sleek oyster bar and "lounge" (haven't heard that word in a while), that has thankfully stuck an IV into the arm of 10th Avenue, pumping it with some life.
If you live or work in this hood, White Oak is an important acquisition. It's lively, welcoming, and there are decent things to eat.
The food at White Oak can best be described as elevated pub grub. It’s fine, and will get the job done, but don’t come here expecting to have your socks knocked off by a refined meal. White Oak is best reserved for crushing oysters, taking the steam off with a couple drinks, and maybe taking down a burger before all is said and done. Their oyster happy hour is excellent, too. More on that below.
White Oak also deserves points for its sleeper Outdoor/Patio Situation in the back, which is tough to come by around these parts. The interiors could certainly use some work: the cheesy aforementioned lounge area in the middle of the restaurant is full with plush maroon club seating and a big, ugly marble table. It’s not overly offensive though, just a little throwback to the early 00’s when lounge life was the life in NYC.
In another neighborhood, like the restaurant-dense East Village, White Oak probably wouldn't warrant a review. But you know what they say - location, location, location, and oysters. For the far West 50s, White Oak is a savior.
We were impressed with the overall variety and quality of White Oak's oysters. They don't have a ton of different options, but they have a few east and west coast oysters and the deals are nice: $1 Blue Point oysters (with purchase of two drinks), all day, everyday. Come on, you're buying two drinks. Also, $2 for west coast oysters from 10pm-2am everyday. Also, the thick, onion and scallion filled mignonette sauce is absolutely delicious.
There are other raw bar items to be had as well. White Oak rips the meat out of the crab claws for you, which is nice and easy to eat, and the shrimp are served over ice with a bunch of different sauce options.
The sneaky hit of the menu. Plump, juicy, wings in a thick, tangy Thai-ish sauce. Make sure you get them well done, so they are nice and crispy.
A dish recommended to us by our server, the crab cakes are solid, but nothing revolutionary. A good dish to share.
A good bar burger with the classic preparation of a big chuck patty with cheddar, lettuce, tomato, and onion on a toasted brioche bun.
The cocktails are nice. As we've already discussed, you'll probably want two.