My wife Jun and I have been to so many restaurants in New York City by now so we have lost count. Previously, I tried to avoid pop-up dinner events happening in the city as such events by definition are only temporary and therefore do not allow me to observe how they evolve over time, unlike a regular restaurant that faces constant pressure to please the picky NYC diners at all times. Lately, though, my thinking has changed and I have started looking for more of these special dinner events, especially from those who have already made their names in the city or elsewhere. New York City’s dining scene lately hasn’t been the most exciting and provocative, with a ton of safe options and fast casuals that seemed to lack the ingenuity and imagination of previous pioneering chefs that made this city such a great place to eat. If there is any window of opportunity, however temporary, that can relive that magic, why not give it a try? When I heard of a pop-up dinner from a chef who used work at the acclaimed Daniel at Colors NY on the Lower East Side, I was intrigued and purchased two tickets for Jun and I (at $95 per person for a six-course menu with drink pairings). Overall, Oxalis was a solid pop-up dinner.
The concept at Oxalis seems to be focus on natural ingredients. The constantly changing menu has a lot of vegetables that are prepared in simple but yet thoughtful manner. While the first bites of fried potatoes on top of leek puree didn’t work as well as I had hoped, Jun and I both enjoyed the grilled beets with bone marrow and watercress that had a pleasantly smoky sensation. A simple lettuce salad with anchovy dressing (the kitchen’s take on Italian bagna cauda) turned out be surprisingly refreshing and just the right amount of citrusy.
On the other hand, despite its healthy-looking plating that could make any locavore diners excited, the combination of sunchokes, walnut, mushroom and comte cheese fell a bit short in its flavor. I wished the ingredients were grilled together to give a little bit more taste of fire but they came out very lightly prepared. Our favorite dish of the night was the beef with black garlic, endive and horseradish. The beef is slow cooked (think of a brisket at a BBQ restaurant) to more or less perfection to give an impeccable texture, and Jun and I both appreciated that the seasoning was kept at a minimum to not overpower the meat. The final dessert of citrus and white chocolate put a delightful ending to our meal, not too rich or sweet just the way I liked.
The pop-up dinner during our visit was almost packed with a curious mix of diners from different backgrounds. The events end at the this month, so if you are still interested in checking them out, visit their website as soon as possible to purchase tickets. The drink pairings (starting with a vermouth mix and progressing to unique-tasting wines) were also thoughtful, although Jun and I would’ve liked to have an opportunity to order more traditional wines or cocktails as well. I wouldn’t consider Oxalis a ground-breaking dinner, but there were some pleasant elements throughout our meal that makes me willing to check it out next time it takes place in NYC.
KenScale: 8.0/10 (Jun’s Score: 7.75/10)
- Creativity: 8.0/10
- Execution: 8.0/10
- Ingredients: 8.5/10
- Flavor: 7.5/10
- Texture: 8.0/10
- Value: 7.5/10
Address: 178 Stanton Street, New York, NY 10002