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Restaurant Review: Oakwood Bistro

Oakwood Bistro opened in 1997. The previous owners were the owners of Sawall Health Food Store, but sold it to the head chef, Chef Ryan Soule in 2009. They describe themselves on their website as “casual fine dining” and I would say that’s accurate. As a frequent diner here, I think Chef Ryan does an excellent job of changing up the menu, keeping the favorites on the menu, and providing a pretty eclectic array of options.

“The Bistro” as it has become known as in my household is a favorite of mine. It’s somewhere I can go to and count on having a good meal. I like to try any specials they have or any new menu items, never settling on a favorite because everything is always good. I put a lot of trust in Chef Ryan and he never disappoints!

On this visit, and most of our visits we went for a starter of our favorite, the Smoked Cheddar Queso Fundido. The menu describes the queso as “a creamy blend of smoked cheddar and spices.”

This delicious dip is served with a warm soft pretzel as well as tortilla chips. The pretzels are THE BOMB! We decided that next time we would ask to just double the pretzels, skip the chips. The queso isn’t spicy at all, just a yummy creamy cheese, and they finish it with a dollop of salsa in the middle.

For my entrée I went with the Pork Belly Tacos. They are a new menu item, so I was excited to try them! I typically will order anything that has Pork Belly in the title.

The delicious pork belly is served in a white corn tortilla topped with salsa verde, avocado, cilantro and queso fresco. They are also served with chips and salsa. They were yummy! They give you two medium sized tacos, which is the perfect amount to fill you up without being overly stuffed.

Also at our table we ordered the Lobster Pizza which was a delicious pizza with herbed oil, topped with lobster, roasted red peppers, garlic, scallions, chevre and their house blend cheese. The crust is thin and crispy, and the ingredients complimented each other perfectly! It’s definitely going to be a new staple for me when I visit the Bistro again. (Which I hope is soon!) The lobster tasted fresh and the cheese blend was perfect.

The service was, and always is, great. The servers are very professional and friendly. They box up your leftovers for you in the back, rather than throwing you some styrofoam boxes. They are incredibly knowledgeable about the menu, as well as the drinks. Their uniforms (all black with a long black and white striped apron) are nice enough to know you are eating fine dining, but casual enough to not feel stuffy. We have never had bad service there.

The offer a full bar, with a large wine list and an ever-changing list of microbrews and nightly martini specials. They have plenty of vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options and are always more than accommodating to make meals to fit your dietary needs.

Oakwood Bistro is pretty amazing. The food is consistently good. Of course, there are some items better than others, but I really don’t think I’ve ever ate anything that would be considered bad here. They always impress me with their creativity and obvious love for all things food.

If you are pondering where to go out to eat this week, try Oakwood Bistro. I promise that you won’t be disappointed!

Elizabeth Buckley is a hairstylist by day and 24/7 food enthusiast. She visits restaurants in the Kalamazoo area and blogs about her experience at feedmekzoo.com

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