Update: Oso Food and Wine closed on May 30.
Michael Cox opened Oso Food and Wine a few months ago, billed as a Mediterranean restaurant, but its influences draw upon much more.
“So many countries border the Mediterranean, like Italy, Spain and Libya,” Cox says. “I want to expose people to new flavors by drawing on these cultures without going too far out of the comfort zone.”
The mezze platter’s smooth garlic hummus and fresh lima bean baba ganoush is classic Lebanese fare, while the warm frisee salad, with Korean pear, roasted daikon and burnt honey-miso dressing, showcases an Asian influence. A whole fish on the original menu proved a bit too daring for some diners. Executive chef Kelly Hightower — whose résumé includes stints at Hattie’s, Tei Tei Robata, and Ziziki’s — swapped it out for a buttery portion of pan-roasted halibut, keeping the well-balanced sweet and savory accompaniments: roasted fingerling potatoes, shaved fennel, olives and an Italian vinaigrette. With 30 years in the restaurant business, Cox says he has opened plenty of eateries — but never one in which he has been so personally involved, even down to the name. “In Spanish, oso translates as ‘bear,’ which is a nickname that my kids call me,” Cox says. “In Italian, it means ‘to risk.’”
Oso Food and Wine
11910 Preston, Suite 209
Ambiance: intimate, low-lit
Price range: $23-$42 for entrees
Hours: 5-10 p.m. Mon.-Sat.
Tip: Save room for dessert: The spiced date cake with cardamom ice cream is a must.