F.B. Oscar’s Opens in South Downtown

Frequenters of the 18th Street and Boston Avenue hot night spot have a new stop to add to their pub crawls. Tulsa’s first gastropub, F.B. Oscar’s, opened at 1738 S. Boston Ave. in late June.
The first buzz about gastropubs came during the 1990s in England, and they are now all the rage on the U.S. coasts. The idea combines high-end food with a pub atmosphere with a focus on beer.
“The whole concept is, good quality food with good service in a casual atmosphere,” said Eli Huff, co-owner and executive chef at Oscar’s.
Huff and his business partner Erin Hardwick named the restaurant after their labradoodle, Oscar. The F.B. stands for Frank Before, the name of their older canine friend.
The menu is modern American, featuring flavors from across the states like those influenced by Latin, French, Asian, German, Cajun, Italian and Green cuisine.
“We have everything,” Huff said. “America’s chefs are really pushing the envelope by basically just being open. You can do a fried chicken, and then you can put goat cheese in the mashed potatoes; you can do fried chicken with waffles, which is crazy, but it’s a southern classic.
“If you look at a modern menu with any chef right now, east coast or west coast, you’ll see a hangar steak, which is a cut no one else has in town – but, you’ll see it with French fries – you know, the old pommes frites, like the French do. Then you’ll also see mayonnaises being infused with wasabi. It’s just what everybody is doing.”
Stars of the menu, which will change seasonally, include house-made chorizo and mozzarella cheese, along with menu items like Tomato Pesto Panzanella (lunch menu, $8), Hangar Steak and Frites (dinner menu, $22), and Grilled Teriyaki Salmon (dinner menu, $17). The average ticket is $30, which includes an appetizer, entrée, drink and dessert. Huff expects first-year sales will total $1.5 million.
The beer menu features 20 labels on tap, with about 10 bottles and 20 wines by the glass. Boulevard Smokestacks, “which are huge, bad-ass beers,” Huff said, and Foster’s oil cans “for fun,” along with Marshall Brewing Co’s Atlas India Pale Ale and Sundown Wheat, are top offerings.
“I picked all the beers according to what I like to drink,” he said. “I’m going to start pairing food with beer, too. I’m going to do a small menu, and it will feature five seasonal beers and five items on the menu they will go with. Then we’ll start doing beer tastings.”
“I’m a beer drinker, and all my friends are beer drinkers. To have a chef who is a beer drinker who has his own restaurants, you really get to play.”
More than Huff finding the south downtown spot for his restaurant, it found him.
“We’d had two other concepts downtown at the old Finales. They were already done, and I was about to sign the lease. We were going to do a two-in-one, but it was just too big. I was driving down about a week before I was going to sign a lease with [Michael] Sager, and I saw the for-lease sign come up here.”
“I had no idea what I wanted to do. Grills had been done, bistros have been done, cafés have been done.”
“My whole thing was originality – everything about it, the food, the design. The bar has all those taps in it, but I want to focus on the food. The only thing I could think of in that aspect was a gastropub.”
“We’re an American gastropub,” Huff added. “What we’re bringing to the American side of the gastropub is high-quality food, high-quality service, bar atmosphere – pub, a public house – and the fourth thing, which is modern American design.”
The dining room, which can seat 130 with room for 240 for nights when there is live music, features a mix of stainless steel in the lights and chairs, reused flooring and wainscoting and updated booths and décor. Hardwick is an architectural designer by trade, and the dining room design was a labor of love.
“We’ve always wanted to do this,” Huff said. “We wrestled about a lot of things. We wanted to keep the history. It was a real negotiating process.”
Hardwick has designed dining rooms for Michael Fusco at his Riverside Grille as well as Tim Inman for the redesign of Stonehorse Café.
The space is just down the sidewalk from Huff’s first executive chef job seven years ago at Crave, now occupied by D’alesandro’s. Huff has also served time at Flavor’s, Bodean’s, Stonehorse Café and Tsunami.
Oscar’s has been luring a variety of diners.
“Our lunches are suits – we get a ton of business people in here. Next to them, you’ll see people with shorts on, who just woke up, hungover, who bartend. We want to keep it open enough to where everybody is welcome.”
Lunch is available Monday-Friday from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; the dining room is open until 11 p.m. Monday-Wednesday and the bar is open until 2 a.m. Thursday and Friday. Saturday hours are 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Oscar’s will eventually offer a late-night menu, as well.

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