New Oakland restaurant has touch of luxury in every element
Set high above Oakland’s prominent Fifth Avenue, Spirits & Tales — the new French-inspired American brasserie on the 10th floor of The Oaklander hotel — offers stunning views of the Cathedral of Learning, Phipps Conservatory, Schenley Park, Schenley Farms and Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum.
The restaurant space has a touch of luxury in every element, while also nodding to Pittsburgh’s past and present.
Elements of steel reflect the city’s industrial history, while natural wood is a reminder of the building’s roots, being housed on a former oak farm. Bronze and gold flicker throughout, especially at night, offering a warm, sleek and sexy vibe.
“We have some hints of steel in the space and, of course, lots of golden and brass tones,” says interior designer Ami Kahalekulu, of Twofold Design. “The space is designed to feel familiar, without screaming steel town or yellow bridge.”
Passion for the city
At the helm of the kitchen is chef Jessica Lewis, who was the mastermind behind Carota Café, one of the inaugural restaurants in the Strip District’s Smallman Galley. Her experience working in hotel restaurants, such as Downtown’s The Commoner inside the Kimpton’s Hotel Monaco, and or, The Whale in the Distrikt Hotel Pittsburgh, gave her a leg u the competition when she was interviewing for the job.
Michael Goldberg, director of food and beverage, says when he looked for a chef, it was important to find someone who understood Pittsburgh, who had a passion for the city and what is going on here, who had experience working in the hotel world and knew how to approach travelers from different markets.
And, someone whose food blew him away.
“When I tasted her food, it was bold, exciting and bright,” Goldberg says. “There’s an energy that comes through that’s really exciting.”
The menu takes cues from French brasseries, with reinvented plates inspired by vegetables, locally-sourced meats and seafood. During dinner service, the menu is broken into small plates for sharing and a handful of entrees.
For the space and seating, Lewis wanted to profile dishes that could be shared and talked about, which goes along with the word “tales” in the name of the restaurant.
“I want to give them a new experience to talk about,” Lewis says.
Bold and exciting flavors
Lewis’ goal is to bring more bold and exciting flavors into the dishes. Steak frites will be made with Jubilee Hilltop Ranch grass-fed beef and paired with a lemon shallot compote. A Nicoise salad is tweaked to include beets and an anchovy breadcrumb. The classic salmon tartare will be accompanied by a rich and creamy oyster aioli.
The dish Lewis is most looking forward to is the Vadouvan shrimp, a French curry with prawns and langostinos.
Guests with dietary and allergy restrictions will definitely be able to find options on the menu, which is very important to Lewis.
“I am really passionate about giving the guests who are vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free actual dining options that are not just a vegetable dish,” she says.
Twists on the classics
At the bar, the “spirits” are also twists on the classics. A standout will be the martini service that presents spirits on ice for optimal flavor.
In addition to cocktails, the wine list will showcase 15 wines by the glass and about 90 wines by the bottle. The portfolio includes selections from France, Italy, Spain, South Africa and the United States.
Goldberg says he chose these regions on purpose, reflecting the old world classics as well as the new wines coming out of South Africa and the United States.
The Oaklander, the first Marriott Autograph Collection Hotel in Pennsylvania, and Spirits & Tales is set to open Feb. 28. And, it’s already been a welcomed addition to the neighborhood.
Spirits & Tales will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Brunch will be served 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
For information and reservations, visit theoaklander hotel.com.