Oa chilly December afternoon, two old buddies were sipping coffee at a window table in the small Oak Hill Post dining room in Brookline, engrossed in a game of euchre. A few tables down, I was delighted by the restaurant’s breakfast sandwich, a stacked biscuit with a fried egg with a just-dippy egg yolk, melted American cheese, a slice of tomato, shredded lettuce and Duke mayo; you can add protein such as breakfast sausage, bacon, and fried chicken for a few extra bucks. I ordered mine with a pork roll, which added a nice meaty saltiness.
The handheld was so well put together that it changed my perspective on what makes a great breakfast sandwich. My favorite ship is a Kaiser roll, but I planted my flag at Camp Biscuit that afternoon. Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, a little sweet and a little buttery, Oak Hill Post tender is possibly the best cookie I’ve had in Pittsburgh. And it doesn’t crumble as you eat it, a rarity in the cookie-sandwich world.
I’m drawn to Oak Hill Post’s sandwich menu every time I visit. The All American Burger is a classic example of a restaurant-style burger; it easily earns a spot in the Pittsburgh Burger Hall of Fame. The two beef patties are smashed like a smashburger on a griddle, but not with the aggressively deep laciness that dominates our early 20s burger world. juicy ones you’ll find in a classic roadside restaurant. As with nearly every Oak Hill Post dish, the rest of the burger is built for perfect harmony, a song of texture and flavor. It’s crispy from shredded Iceberg lettuce, salty and creamy from melted American cheese, slightly tart and tangy from pickles and onions, and crispy just to saturation point – but not so dripping that it requires a mountain of towels. The sesame seed squishy bun also works great for this style of burger.
Pittsburgh is still, by and large, hanging on to the Nashville-style hot chicken sandwich trend. Oak Hill Post doesn’t, and its signature fried chicken sandwich, #26, is a clever build that flies over the herd. The chicken is crispy. The sweet funk of fermented celeriac and radish in homemade kimchi adds a bit of earthy ethereality. It’s just a spicy touch from gochujang and slightly tart from Duke’s mayonnaise. The inside of the bread is beautifully toasted on the griddle to add depth and strength to the structure. This is a sandwich made by professional chefs who love to make sandwiches.
Indeed, the only sandwich a bit below my expectations was Martha My Dear, an under-seasoned chicken salad sandwich served between two slices of Texan toast that were far too thick for the role. There wasn’t enough celery, which could have added some grassiness and texture, and the accompanying nuts could have used a little more roasting.
Owners Christian Schulz and Rebecca Nicholson have combined years of experience in the hospitality industry ranging from luxury hotels to pop-up pubs to create a modern restaurant that serves great food with a small-town vibe. Schulz is the restaurant’s chef. He trained as a musician before entering the catering industry at the now closed Crested Duck; he then held positions at former restaurants Block 292 and Root 174, then Senti before launching a pop-up series called Menuette, which ran for about two years, with Nicholson. She leads reception and commercial operations and is the main sounding board for new menu ideas. Nicholson studied hospitality at Penn State University and worked in New York, San Francisco, San Diego and Los Angeles before returning to his hometown to do the same in restaurants in Pittsburgh.
On all my visits, the staff greeted by name what sounded like a parade of frequent customers. One evening, one of them even came to drop off a Christmas present. I love how those old connections to local restaurants, something that seems rare these days, are juxtaposed with what might at first look like a very nü-wave lunch. Oak Hill Post’s shelves are filled with ceramic coffee infusers, glass jars filled with lively spices, and the trendiest cookbooks. You can also hear incantations of ‘behind’, ‘fire burger’, ‘two minutes to scoop eggs’ sung to the beat of a well-oiled fine-dining restaurant from the open kitchen.
It works because Schulz and Nicholson have a clear vision of what they think a kitchen should offer (although, mainly due to the ever-changing world of the coronavirus pandemic, they haven’t landed on that at all). what the end result will look like) and what looks like a sincere desire to please their guests and serve the neighborhood. The food isn’t made for Instagram (although it’s often presented quite nicely) and the service has no whiff of pretension. On the contrary, it is an avant-garde hospitality venue that also offers a delicious meal.
Take all that high-end coffee equipment. Nitro cold brew is designed to be smooth and naturally sweet, which is why the barista at many third wave coffee shops will strongly suggest trying it as it was if you ask for milk and sugar. At the Oak Hill Post, he comes to the table swirling different shades of cocoa and an offer of “can I get you some cream with that?” It doesn’t need cream or sugar, but no one here will judge you if that’s how you want to drink it.
The duo planned to open a fancier version of Menuette when they signed a lease for the space in March 2020. But with the onset of the pandemic and subsequent closures, they transitioned to a more casual food concept. prepared and offered a payout what-you-can price structure when they opened; they renamed Oak Hill Post in August of that year. The next 19 months saw a mix of highly successful experiments – Oak Hill Post is already a Pittsburgh Magazine Best Restaurant – in takeout, sandwiches, pasta dishes and other ideas as the establishment found its place to align with what the neighborhood wanted.
Schulz and Nicholson finally opened for breakfast in September because there was demand, and it became a huge part of their business. When I dined at Oak Hill Post in late fall and early winter, dinner service was limited – think blue dishes such as pork chops with mashed potatoes and sauerkraut and chicken kimchi sausages with potato gratin and broccolini. It was quite good, especially if you were looking for a well-prepared full meal that didn’t break the budget. Because dinner did not take the same way as the daily menu, however, and out of a desire to have the entire kitchen team work together, Nicholson and Schulz have since decided to suspend evening service in the future. predictable to focus on more popular breakfast and lunch times.
Luckily for us, the breakfast, which includes this fantastic breakfast sandwich, is outstanding. If you have a sweet tooth in the morning, you’ll love the restaurant’s French toast with bright lemon curd, airy, lightly sweet and lightly salty ricotta mousse, and Paul Family Farms maple syrup. It’s like eating custard in crusty bread; every breakfast restaurant serves French toast but hardly anyone prepares it properly. Still, I would have preferred the lemon curd served on the side instead of streaked underneath (a rare moment when presentation takes precedence over flavor) because of its citrus intensity.
Although the biscuit sandwich is currently my favorite for a savory breakfast, the Oak Hill Post breakfast burrito – scrambled eggs, fries, sausage sauce, American cheese and sriracha in a flour tortilla – is a nice spin on a hearty morning classic and well worth ordering, especially if you’re looking for a full meal on the go. Very thin fries don’t feature prominently in my fries canon – and I’d prefer a standard cut, steak or crinkle cut with my burger and chicken sandwich – but they’re a great choice here, adding understated texture but necessary for the burrito. As is the case with the breakfast sandwich, there are proteins to add, but be careful as the sausage sauce, which is standard in every burrito, can overwhelm them (in my case it blew the flavor of crispy fried chicken). I like the idea of a classic breakfast served as a burrito, but using a less assertive sauce or even an entirely different sauce would provide a less intrusive canvas. I’m really excited to have this savory sausage sauce with cookies sometime on the road, though.
With the hours reduced, Schulz says he and the rest of the kitchen team will have more time to play with and expand the menu. I would like to see more thoughtful vegan or vegetarian options – they are quite rare at the moment, although some dishes can be increased for vegetarian dinners – as part of this mix. They certainly have a knack for adding more vibrancy to what’s on offer without alienating people who already know what they love about Oak Hill Post. If they do, they’ll be cementing the path they’re already blazing – running an approachable yet ambitious restaurant that will be a South Hills staple for years to come.
600 Brookline Blvd.