Food Porn: O’Connell’s American Bistro

UPDATE: O’Connell’s has since closed their doors and Chef Kevin O’Connell Jr is now working in Los Angeles.

Our final meal of Local Restaurant week was a weekend dinner at O’Connell’s American Bistro, a long overdue visit to a restaurant that has been on our wishlist for years.  Both Alli and I were looking for an offering that was something really creative.  Normally the restaurants will offer a small selection of their normal menu but what stood out about O’Connell’s offering was how they really tried something different.

For this week you picked a 4 course meal that revolved around a certain type of “animal”, whether it was Cow, Pig or Sea. The courses ranged from the familiar (pork tenderloin, filet) to adventurous (pork cheeks, sweetbreads), many of which seemed to be items that weren’t normally served on the menu.  So after making reservations last minute, Alli and I visited their cozy little bistro on a Friday night.  We had heard some really great things from friends and had high hopes for their ambitious Restaurant Week menu, thankfully almost every dish we had was right on.

Quick Info:

The restaurant is relatively tiny, there are maybe only a dozen tables and a really nice long bar.  If you are planning on dining on a weekend night, I’d recommend calling or requesting a reservation online.  After entering through the incorrect door (apparently you go in through the back door, not the front), we were seated right away.  Alli knew that she wanted the Cow menu and I decided at the last minute to go with the Pig menu instead of the Fish.

The first course for Alli was a bowl of braised short rib soup.  It was a wonderful start to her meal and the actual broth had a fatty beef gravy flavor and there were large pieces of tender short ribs throughout.  I had a sausage & escarole soup that reminded me of hyped up Italian Wedding with large pieces of sausage.  While the broth was a little watery, the sausage itself was juicy and flavorful and the herbs in the broth gave the dish some nice flavor.

Our following courses, however, really stepped up the quality and diversity of the meal.  Alli’s second course was a large meatball with homemade gnocchi (pictured above, top).  Covered by a vodka-type tomato sauce, the gnocchi was incredible.  They had a wonderfully smooth texture, were light and airy and literally melted in your mouth.  The meatball was good as well, made with angus beef and veal,  but the gnocchi was really the star of the dish.  My next course was a pork shoulder bucatini (pictured in gallery), the pork was tender and fell apart with the side of my fork.  The buttery sauce had a little sweetness that played nicely with the savory noodles, mushrooms and pork.

Our meals took an adventurous turn (at least for us) when Alli’s 3rd course was a small serving sweetbreads (pictured in gallery) and I received a cup of pork cheeks (pictured in gallery).  For those who aren’t familiar, sweetbreads are generally pieces of throat or other various glands of a calf.  The sweetbreads definitely had a unique flavor and are maybe too game-y for a picky or cautious eater but both Alli and I really enjoyed the flavor, the addition of bacon in the dish probably eased our introduction to sweetbreads.  The pork cheeks were awesome, served in a bowl with beans and topped with lettuce, crispy bacon and cheese, they referred to the dish as their “cowboy coctail”.  The meat was insanely tender and very rich in flavor.  That said, I would have preferred a different dish to showcase the pork cheeks as the beans, lettuce and cheese masked the pork flavor too much and I eventually started eating the cheek by itself.

For the main course, Alli was served a 4oz filet mignon with mashed potatoes (pictured above) and brussel sprouts while I was served a pork tenderloin wrapped in bacon (pictured below) with creamed corn.  The filet was cooked just right; it had a very pink center and was incredibly tender.  Alli couldn’t come around to enjoying the brussel sprouts.  While they had a very buttery texture and flavor, the bitterness of the sprout was still too much.  The tenderloin was also very juicy but what was the most impressive about the dish was how crispy the bacon had remained around the pork.  Every time we’ve ever ordered bacon wrapped anything, the bacon is almost always slimy and not enjoyable at all, in this case it was crispy with a great salty flavor.

Overall, our meals were pretty wonderful, not only did we eat an incredible amount of food for 20 dollars but the offering was unique, fun and creative.  I had heard some positive things about O’Connell’s and was glad to see their food lived up to the praise, everything we had was well prepared and had a great flavor.  The location itself is very welcoming and their bar has a good beer selection and an impressive cocktail menu that I unfortunately didn’t know about until I started writing this post.  Our service was alright, the entire meal went on for about an hour and my only complaint was our server wasn’t as engaging/outgoing as the other servers around us.  Other tables had the dishes described as they were brought out, mentioning what wasn’t on the menu and what was a special for the night…out waitress did not do that.  But that is really the only complaint that I had with our entire meal so I’m looking forward to revisiting the restaurant and trying a regular dish and cocktail.

Photo Gallery:

O'Connells American Bistro on Urbanspoon

One thought on “Food Porn: O’Connell’s American Bistro

  1. My husband and I eat their regularly and wouldn’t go as often if it wasn’t worth it. In fact we are even in the picture at the bar. Not only is the food to die for, the people that you meet are just as wonderful. Besides, you never know who you are going to see there. From creators of television shows, to politicians, to sports figures past and present. To those who have never been here, give it a try. You will love it. Kudos to Chef Kevin Jr.

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