The Out & About team dined last week at the Oakwood Cafe in Raleigh. This Argentinean and Cuban restaurant is laid-back and had a few culinary surprises.
The Location: 300 E Edenton St., across from Ruben's and not far from the North Carolina Museum of History. Parking is limited to be prepared to drive around the block, if their lot is full. We ended up down the street in the museum's parking lot.
The Company: The Out & About editorial and marketing team.
The Meal: We each tried something different. The menu had a selection of traditional Argentinean and Cuban dishes. Here's our take:
Kathy: I had the char-grilled chicken, which was marinated in chimi-churri sauce (olive oil, vinegar, spices, herbs, garlic). For my sides, I got rice tossed with spinach and then green beans. The beans tasted like they could have come from a can, but my attention was more focused on the chicken anyway. It was seasoned very well and I love that they gave a side of the chimi-churri sauce to dip the chicken in. The sauce and chicken were the stars of the meal for me. I'd definitely go back and order this, but just try different sides. For lunch, the prices were reasonable too. My meal was $10 or less before the tip.
Jodi: I had the Cuban steak sandwich with fried yucca and enjoyed my side dish more than my main course. That's not to say the steak sandwich was not tender, tasty and cheesy, but it came up a touch bland. The addition of the house-made hot sauce, heavy on the black pepper, bumped it beyond an everyday sandwich. The yucca portion was generous. Sizeable hunks of the fleshy veggie were cloaked in crunch. They sat in a tangy touch of lime juice and were filling without the guilt that usually accompanies French fries. For lunch at a reasonable price, or a taste of some of the other Argentinean tastes on the menu, I would return to Oakwood Cafe.
Lisa: Being a vegetarian and taking a peek at the menu online beyond ahead of time, I was a bit nervous I’d be making a meal of run of the mill side vegetables (green beans, mashed potatoes, rice and beans, and the like), but I was really impressed by the spinach and cheese empanadas lunch entree, with rice and beans on the side. I asked for the house chimi-churri sauce to kick up the flavor a bit and wow, that is the way to go. It was a really tasty lunch and easy enough on the wallet at just under $8.00 with tax (pre-tip).
Sarah: I'm so sorry to say this, but I was not really impressed with my meal at Oakwood Cafe. I was a little hesitant to even try it out, because I had checked out their menu online ahead of time and as someone who doesn't really eat much meat my choices were limited, spinach and cheese empanadas or an uninspired garden-variety side salad. I ordered the spinach and cheese empanadas with rice and beans as a side but I found everything a little bland. Even the chimi-churri sauce didn't brighten it up enough for me. Nothing tasted bad, but it wasn't great, and I don't think I'll be back.
Tara: Being new to the Raleigh area and just starting my first job, I am always open to trying new restaurants but do sometimes worry that the Raleigh prices are going to break me. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Oakwood had an outstanding menu and extremely reasonable prices. I had the grilled chicken with a side salad and mashed potatoes. Sometimes I am skeptical when ordering grilled chicken in fear that it will be dry or bland but the chicken at Oakwood was full of flavor and seasoned perfectly. It is served with a side of chimi-churri sauce and I combined that with their homemade hot sauce which I put on the chicken and even potatoes to kick the whole meal up a notch. The side salad was fresh and the perfect amount. Oakwood is a great place for lunch or dinner, I will definitely be going back again.
The Service: Prompt, but we did end up sitting around at the end of the meal for quite some time waiting for the bill - only to find out that they don't bring the bill to the table. You have to go to the back and pay it at the counter. Would have been nice to know that a little earlier.
The Final Bill: The prices were reasonable. Everyone ate for about $10 or under before tip.
The Verdict: 4 out of 5 of us would go back