A neighborhood kind of place

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Plenty of food, spirits, and a sense of community make for an active scene at Oak & Stone restaurant on Clark Road

By Jane Bartnett

There’s something special about a welcoming neighborhood restaurant. It’s a place where families and singles and everyone in between can right feel at home dropping in for a weekend brunch, early weekday lunch, snack, or late dinner. Oak & Stone on Clark Road is that kind of place.
“We do it all,” said Oak & Stone’s manager Kurt Henson. “The food is phenomenal. It’s a casual environment and the pizza’s fresh. Our beer selection changes daily.”

Oak & Stone assistant manager and beer expert Chris Lashinske admires a newly poured beer from the Oak & Stone beer wall. (photo by Jane Bartnett)

On Oak & Stone’s Wall of Beer, there are 50 beer taps waiting to be tried. Customers can bring their glass to the wall and purchase beer by the ounce. If one brew isn’t to your liking, there are many more to try.
Oak & Stone’s beer ambassador and assistant manager Chris Lashinske keeps tabs on the taps. “We use up to nine beer distributors and offer many local and Florida beers from as many craft breweries both small and large as we can, with a variety of flavor profiles,” he said.
Come the fall, Lashinske reported, pumpkin beer will be on tap. And, as Santa makes his way around town, he may want to stop in at Oak & Stone for a cool and frosty peppermint beer.
Bourbon fans will enjoy discovering more than 39 different varieties on the menu. “We offer four bourbon flights that include the Modern Kentucky Flight, the All-Around America Flight, the Florida Bourbon Flight and the Classic Kentucky Flight,” said Henson.
Pizza lovers can build their own pizza by selecting from seven different cheeses, nine proteins and 13 different toppings. Or pick from one of the 10 different cleverly named pizzas on the menu that range from classic cheese to the “Fun Guy” pizza that arrives at the table topped with cremini and oyster mushrooms, roasted garlic sauce, savory herbs, truffle oil and arugula. Gluten-free pizza crusts are also available, for an upgrade charge.
Wings are also an Oak & Stone’s staple and weekly wing nights are being planned. With six slow-roasted stone oven wings to choose from in a variety of flavors, they make a great starter or light meal.
An ample selection of salads, appetizers and hand-held items for lunch and dinner are also on the menu. There are burgers, chicken, turkey, and grouper sandwiches, as well as the classic Reuben, served on grilled rye bread and made with corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Oak & Stone’s own secret sauce.

On the weekends, starting at 10 a.m. Oak & Stone offers a generous brunch menu. Start off with a “bottomless” bloody Mary or mimosa. If you’re more inclined to breakfast fare, there are egg dishes, French toast, waffles and several biscuit dishes. If lunch is on your mind, then try the “Hangover Pizza” or the “Heifer & Hen” — a burger and egg served sunny side up with bacon.
Oak & Stone’s large bar area has plenty of seating and features several high-top tables. There is ample indoor seating in the dining room area. Outdoors, couches and tables are in the front of the restaurant.
Prior to joining Oak & Stone at Clark Road, Henson managed the Oak & Stone restaurant in Bradenton. A military veteran with a long career in the restaurant business, he’s settling into his new role. Looking ahead to the busy fall and winter season, Henson is focusing on increasing Oak & Stone’s presence in the local Palmer Ranch and Gulf Gate neighborhoods, along with nearby Siesta Key.
In July, the restaurant joined with SunCoast Blood Centers and hosted two urgent blood drives in support of the local Boots vs. Badges competition. A friendly year-long challenge between the Sarasota fire and sheriff’s departments, the effort encourages blood donations. Donors are asked to cheer for either the Boots or the Badges. A trophy and bragging rights go with the end-of-year win.
“I’m very proud to say that a number of our Oak & Stone servers were among those who donated blood,” said Henson.

Employee Libby Cox gives blood. (photo by Jane Bartnett)

SunCoast Blood Centers’ senior donor group representative Cassie Vassallo, who was on hand at Oak & Stone along with the SunCoast Bloodmobile staff, reported that “during the summer months there’s a very large need for blood donations.”
Henson is talking with the Sarasota County Humane Society and veterans’ groups to arrange events. He also wants to encourage area churches and local organizations to consider Oak & Stone for their events.
“I want the Oak & Stone Clark Road location to be a place for fundraisers. People feel at home here,” he said. “Every day there’s something different going on here, that’s why I love coming to work. It’s a great neighborhood place.”
The Oak & Stone Clark Road restaurant is in the Expo on Clark Shopping Center at 4067 Clark Rd. Happy hour is Monday through Friday, 2 p.m.to 6 p.m.
Restaurant hours are Sunday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Saturday 10 a.m to 11 p.m. No reservations. Call (941) 893-4881 or visit oakandstone.com.

Cassie Vassallo of the SunCoast Blood Center speaks with Kurt Henson, manager of Oak & Stone. (photo by Jane Bartnett)
Jane Bartnett
Author: Jane Bartnett

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