UWS fine dining pioneer Tom Valenti has returned to the neighborhood after close to a year away from the kitchen. His anticipated casual restaurant Oxbow Tavern is now open in the former Cafe Tallulah space at 240 Columbus Ave., near West 71st Street.
Valenti previously was the chef-owner of Ouest, which helped establish him as a groundbreaker for fine dining on the Upper West Side. Oxbow Tavern, though, is more of a casual neighborhood restaurant. Still, its menu is similar to that of the now-closed Ouest, featuring a French-influenced menu that includes bistro classics like coq au vin, croque monsieur, and a burger. At lunch and weekend brunch, there’s an omelet soufflé made with mushroom-truffle purée and hollandaise.
Ouest closed in 2015 after 14 years in the neighborhood, and Valenti hopped around NYC a bit, running ‘Cesca and the now-shuttered The West Branch. For the past couple years, he has been relatively under the radar, joining Le Cirque as executive chef in 2017 but leaving when the restaurant filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March of last year.
Valenti has also released a slew of cookbooks over the years and has long been known for his rustic approach to cooking with famed dishes like salmon gravlax, which is on the dinner menu at Oxbow, and a braised lamb shank, which will sometimes be offered at his new restaurant.
For the chef’s big return to the UWS dining scene, Valenti is offering lunch, brunch, and dinner menus at Oxbow Tavern. It’s open for lunch Tuesday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., for dinner daily at 5 p.m., and for weekend brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.