Fancy bar grub is already a well-established genre on the local dining scene. But The Live Oak Music Hall & Lounge on the Near Southside makes its small upscale menu seem like a well-kept secret, if only because the dining room is tucked cozily at the back of the building with an entrance through the side patio. Venture inside, and you’ll find a friendly, casual staff and a modest selection of sandwiches, salads, and entrées that — despite a couple of minor missteps — will likely exceed your expectations of a meal prepared at a live music venue.
For appetizers, we went the deep-fried route and ordered the fried green tomatoes and jalapeño chips.
The tomatoes, two thick juicy slices that kept their firmness and flavor despite the hot oil, were delicately breaded with a tender but crumbly cornmeal coating. The dish was completed by two large pieces of hearty andouille pork sausage with subtle Cajun seasonings that had a creep-up-on-you chile kick. The only complaint was the accompanying dijon mustard relish with small cubes of crunchy zucchini. The spice was a little overbearing, and really, the tomatoes and sausage didn’t need the interference.
The jalapeño chips turned out to be small, thin slices of tasty dark green peppers, also breaded and deep-fried but served with a ramekin of cool, creamy avocado dip that was a great summer-day condiment. The jalapeños pulled off a neat trick: Their impressive smoky-pepper fire came on quickly but faded fast.
For entrées, we tried the ham and cheese pita and the shaved rib-eye sandwich. The pita was an open-faced affair, served like a small pizza on the plate. The soft, thick Mediterranean bread was piled with succulent curls of salty shaved ham, fresh shreds of romaine and iceberg lettuce, bright red roma tomato slices, and a gooey layer of melted sharp cheddar. Again, the sticking point was the spread –– there was a considerable slathering of scallion mayo. If you’re not a fan of mayonnaise, tell your server to go light on it, and you’ll still get a solidly delicious pita meal.
The shaved rib-eye sandwich was terrific all around. Served on a large hoagie roll flecked with black sesame seeds and toasted ’til it was warm and pillowy, the thick portions of steak were pure carnivore bliss –– hot, juicy, and in that middle ground between tender and chewy. There was no sauce, just a generous, velvety layer of melted mozzarella that knocked the ’wich out of the park.
The pecan porter-braised pork shoulder arrived looking like a particularly tempting pot roast, and it tasted even better: A large mound of fatty, stringy pig flesh turned out to be some of the most tender, flavorful pork I’d ever tried. It rested in a light brown sauce with large, firm pieces of carrot and several scoops of buttery mashed potatoes studded with soft pieces of spud. This stellar entrée would’ve been memorable in an upscale comfort-food joint. The fact that it came from a bar/music club means that Live Oak’s owners have fulfilled their ambitions to be a lunch and dinner destination as well.
The Live Oak Music Hall & Lounge
1311 Lipscomb St, FW. 817-926-0968. 4pm-11pm Sun-Thu, 4pm-1am Fri, 11am-2am Sat, 11am-11pm Sun. All major credit cards accepted.
Fried green tomatoes ……………………….. $8
Fried jalapeño chips …………………………. $4
Ham and cheese pita ………………………… $12
Shaved rib-eye sandwich …………………. $15
Pecan porter-braised pork shoulder …… $15