The Scoop: Many couples want to find a restaurant that is comfortable, welcoming, and affordable but that also serves innovative cuisine. Oxalis checks off all those boxes for a sophisticated yet relaxing date night in New York City. The restaurant, located near the Brooklyn Museum, prefers simplicity over extravagance, but without skimping on the wow factor. For its seasonal menu of dinners and cocktails, as well as its high-quality at-home meal kits, Oxalis has earned our Editors’ Choice Award.
Many people book a table at an upscale restaurant to impress a date. Once they get there, they may discover that the night isn’t what they imagined.
Their outfits may be uncomfortable, and the menu could be expensive and hard to decipher. If they’re not regulars, they may even get stuck in a table near the kitchen. Just because they pay a lot of money doesn’t mean they will have the elegant experience they desire.
Oxalis offers couples an affordable, upscale dining experience without any stuffy vibes.
The French-inspired fine dining restaurant is located in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and focuses on the simplicity in design and its fresh, seasonal ingredients. As a result, couples who visit for a date can feel confident that they’ll leave satisfied.
“We try to take simple, ordinary things and show people that, when cared for properly, they can be really great,” said Steve Wong, Oxalis Director of Operations. “That speaks to the approachability of what we do. Our restaurant is more about the food, the meal, and experience, and less about the decor and extravagance.”
When daters visit the restaurant, they’ll likely notice its clean, simple design. Oxalis also has an expansive outdoor area for safe socially distanced dining. The restaurant is almost unassuming, but according to Steve, that’s the point. Rather than relying on gimmicks, the restaurant creates an environment where diners can instead devote their attention to what’s most important: the dining experience and the conversation surrounding its impressive meals.
The Michelin Star Restaurant Began as a Pop-Up
In 2016, Steve and his partners, Chef Nico Russell and Beverage Director Piper Kristensen, started the restaurant as a pop-up eatery. When an Instagram account that highlighted great date spots in the city featured their location, business began to boom.
“We’ve always been a date place,” he said. “We have guests who are still dating, and they keep coming back. It’s been four years now, and it’s still such a memorable experience for them. Some are even married with kids now. It’s really fun.”
The restaurant’s name originates from a clover-like plant. It grows abundantly throughout the country, but especially in the area of California where both Steve and Nico grew up. Its greens are simple yet delicious — exactly the vibe the Oxalis team aims for in its menu.
Oxalis is now located in Prospect Heights, close to the Brooklyn Museum, at 791 Washington Avenue. That’s why the establishment sees many diners looking for a delicious meal as part of a museum-and-dinner date.
Steve said he considers the restaurant to be a neighborhood bistro with excellent cuisine.
“We have guests from around the world. Half are just people who live close by and understand the thought and care we put into our food,” he said. “The other half may want a good place to celebrate date nights, birthdays, or anniversaries.”
An a la carte menu is available in the restaurant’s outdoor garden area, making social distancing — and privacy during a special date — a priority.
Offering At-Home Meal Kits for Delicious Dates
The Michelin-starred establishment has focused on innovation since the earliest days of its pop-up shop. Like other restaurants in New York City, the COVID-19 pandemic forced Oxalis to get creative.
By the middle of 2020, the restaurant started offering meal kits for couples to make at home. Delivery is available throughout Brooklyn.
“We did that through the full pandemic, and we’ll keep doing some form of that this year. Delivery and outdoor dining were a huge hit,” Steve said. “It was a chance for people to have a meal that they wouldn’t have normally prepared. It’s like taking a little vacation to eat things they wouldn’t normally eat.”
The meal kits Oxalis offers to couples for brunch and dinner orders change weekly, just like its full menu. The seasonal ingredients in the meal kits come about 90% prepared, so couples just have to put on the final touches.
Steve said he and his team like to choose a different location or inspiration to feature for the at-home meal kits. One week, the special included country biscuits in gravy and a Thai-flavored spicy chicken dinner.
“The menu changes so often that you always get something new,” he said. “The food is thought-provoking because we approach it from a place of accessibility. There aren’t a million things on the plate. It’s simple in appearance, and it’s not what you expect, but the depth of the dishes make for great conversation.”
The team plans to take some time off in early 2021 to regroup after such a challenging year. It plans to open the courtyard again sometime in February, likely in time for Valentine’s Day.
Oxalis Makes Creative Meals That Coupes Love
Before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Oxalis offered a surprisingly affordable six-course meal for date night. When it reopens in February, it plans to change that to a nine-course meal.
It’s nearly impossible to list the restaurant’s most popular dishes because the menu changes every four weeks, depending on the season. Half the menu rotates out every two weeks, so if diners love a dish, they should plan to return quickly.
“You’ll find something different every time you come to Oxalis. There are no dishes that stay throughout,” Steve said. “It’s a natural process, and it feels like the seasons. That’s why people love it for celebratory occasions and date nights — you get a new experience every time.”
Of course, what doesn’t change is the attention the team gives to every meal and cocktail they prepare. Because the options aren’t overwhelming, people can relax and focus on their dates.
At Oxalis, walk-ins are always welcome, and there’s no dress code. Sometimes, diners will come in wearing a baseball cap and a T-shirt for a meal that would cost them upwards of $350 elsewhere in the city.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has been such a terrible experience, but there have been so many guests who have reached out to let us know how special and how important Oxalis has been,” he said. “That’s why my partner and I got into the business to begin with. We wanted to create a place that would give people a chance to experience fine dining without the pretense.”