Cali-chards notwithstanding, there’s actually more oak in the Fairmont Copley Plaza’s utterly splendid new OAK Long Bar + Kitchen. The supposedly “oak-paneled” Oak Room was lined with oak effect painted plaster!
The room’s transformation from its fusty, old-boys-club feel begins with a grand new entrance carved out on St. James Street, which welcomes one and all. Previously, you entered through the hotel lobby, which effectively cut off passersby from passing in.
Without losing its sense of history — the hotel hit 100 this month — the space has morphed into a light, fresh and open plan. Yet it’s palatial and elegant, with beige burlap-ish covered couches that add an earthy touch to the room’s marble and gilt backdrop. But don’t think prettiness and ladies-who-lunch: There is that masculine, 80-foot, copper-topped bar as a solid anchor.
Behind the bar, which extends into an open kitchen, a stone wood-burning oven adds a homey visual element and from it comes a succulent wild mushroom and free-range egg flatbread and superb oysters Rockefeller, creamy and delicately flavored with anise. Chef Stefan Jarausch adds wonderful summer salads, like butterleaf lettuce with crunchy sunflower seeds, goat cheese, and a light lime-yogurt dressing. Heartier dishes include tagliatelle tossed with big chunks of lobster and a zucchini sauce, and topped with tender braised short rib.
Know your history
In 1912, the Fairmont Copley Plaza opened with a restaurant called the Copley Café, which became the Merry-Go-Round Bar in 1934. A carousel footprint is etched into the current flooring.
In 1978, it became the Plaza Bar and Dining Room, which morphed into the Oak Room in 1996.
OAK Long Bar + Kitchen keeps original features that were uncovered or restored, including the original gilded, molded ceiling and early 20th-century oil paintings.
Entrees range from $19 to $39.