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The Oaks gourmet market and deli opens Friday near Beachwood Canyon [Updated]

September 22, 2009 |  6:00 am

Gourmet cheeses, meats, jams, beer, wine and more at The Oaks near Beachwood Canyon in Los Angeles

Restaurateur Greg Morris is nothing if not prolific. The owner of the Spanish Kitchen, the Belmont and Oakfire Pizza is busily preparing the Olive for a mid to late-November debut in the former Boa space at the Grafton Hotel. He's also overseeing the newest Oakfire location, which is slated to open in late November in the former La Fondue space along Sherman Oaks' restaurant row. But this Friday, with little fanfare, Morris will finally open the Oaks, a gourmet market and eatery near the base of Beachwood Canyon.

Adjacent to Victor Square, the Oaks will be stocked with all manner of fancy foodstuffs but in an environment that Morris hopes will lend itself to becoming a casual neighborhood hangout as well as a dining destination.

"There are not too many places like us," Morris says. "I live nearby and when I came here to grab a sandwich, there would be 15 people here shooting the breeze. We wanted to keep the same energy and spirit."

The Oaks may be too casual for Morris to feel comfortable calling it a full-fledged restaurant, but chef Greg Paul, who was until recently the chef at the Belmont, has prepared a menu that includes a half-pound burger topped with black forest bacon, taleggio and a smoked jalapeno and pineapple compote -- for only $11. Morris, who's a die-hard burger guy, hopes to challenge the stalwarts of L.A.'s gourmet burger scene ounce for ounce. "I'm not going to say that it’s the best burger I've ever had," he says, "but I definitely think it's one of the best burgers in LA."

 The gauntlet -- in the form of a bun -- has been thrown.

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The Oaks will have a full selection of liquor; dozens of beers; and a stock of 2,200 wines from 350 different labels. Curated by Corwyn Anthony, Morris' partner in the Olive, the list is heavy on pinot noirs from California and France, and 50% of the wines cost less than $30, according to Morris.

Foodstuffs include five dozen cheeses; artisanal olive oils, jams, nuts, olives, crackers, cookies and a coffee roaster that can roast the beans of your choice in about 10 minutes, while you shop. In addition to goods that are baked in-house, the Oaks will feature several items from local bakeries that aren't sold elsewhere. These include tea cakes, sticky buns, scones and muffins from Cake Monkey as well as a bourbon bread pudding from Delilah's.

Is the Oaks a restaurant? A deli? A cafe? A store? Even Morris isn't completely sure. "We do so many things," he says, "we're a little bit of everything."

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--Elina Shatkin

Photos: Elina Shatkin / Los Angeles Times

Updated Sep. 28 at 3:32 p.m.: The Oaks did not open on Friday, Sep. 25 as planned due to ordered goods that did not arrive on time. Owner Greg Morris says the market is scheduled to open this Friday, Oct. 2.
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