Oak Eatery Serves Homemade Classics Sourced from Minnesota’s Backyard

by | Feb 2019

French Dip Sandwich from Oak Eatery

French Dip Sandwich from Oak Eatery. Photos: Emily J. Davis

Whether it be burgers, sandwiches, flatbreads or other classics, owner Dawn Nelson focuses on quality ingredients.

Medina’s Oak Eatery offers American fare comfort food, with a focus on local sourcing, wellness, and a welcoming feel. The outfit touts a mindful menu, based around in-season Minnesota eats and offering allergy and dietary-sensitive homemade staples.

Whether it be burgers, sandwiches, flatbreads or other classics, owner Dawn Nelson focuses on quality ingredients, making sure there’s something on the menu for every person and palate.

“[I] came up with this concept and it looked like there was a real need in the area, there was nothing like this…Great food, great price, old-fashioned scratch cooking on location,” Nelson says.

Salad from Oak Eatery

From food to decorating, Nelson designed Oak Eatery herself, drawing from her years of restaurant industry know-how. The decor reflects its Minnesota feel, with rustic tables and the signature wall piece, an American flag, all made from reclaimed wood, sourced from Creekside Sign.

Hometown roots extend to the menu, where Nelson rolls with the seasons and sources locally as much as possible, she says, frequenting area markets and Rockford’s Knapton Farms. Oak Eatery alternates between a fall/winter menu for the colder months, and a spring/summer menu, usually beginning in May.

“I’ll shop the local farmers for fresh produce… apples, tomatoes, butternut squash,” Nelson says. “We like to support our local farmers, [and to] be able to serve food [in its] season is awesome.”

Nelson’s biggest year-round hits are the Fusion Fish Tacos, marinated haddock served over Asian slaw and topped with green onions, served in a fried wanton shell. Another classic is the French dip – tender shaved beef with melted provolone, onions and the Eatery’s famous whiskey sauce, all on a ciabatta bun with a side of au jus.

Dawn Nelson (owner-left), Kelley Hanson (middle), Cory Borthwick (right)

Dawn Nelson (owner-left), Kelley Hanson (middle), Cory Borthwick (right)

When warm weather rolls around, Nelson’s most popular item makes its return: Firecracker Shrimp Tacos, served on tortillas with cilantro-lime coleslaw, firecracker shrimp and mango pineapple salsa.

“It’ll come back every year – it’s the number one seller,” Nelson says.

Making everything in-house, Oak Eatery has options for all patrons. Their breads, crusts and baked goods are supplied by Maple Lake’s Clover Meadow Bakery, touting gluten, dairy, and allergy-friendly doughs.

“[It’s] all of our own baking, apple crisp, pumpkin bars, scones and cinnamon rolls. All that good ol’ fashion cooking!” says Nelson.

Serving breakfast on Saturdays and Sundays, and lunch and dinner seven days a week, Oak Eatery dishes up comfort food throughout the day, along with specialty coffee drinks and a rotating selection of craft beer and wine. The kids’ menu offers family-friendly staples, perfect for picky eaters. All menu items are available for take-out.

Not sure what to try? Bundle half a sandwich with soup or a side salad for only $10 for lunch or dinner, and check out the weekday Happy Hour deals Monday-Friday 3-6 p.m.

With seasonal patio seating, along with space for groups, Oak Eatery is great for gatherings and events, Nelson says.

For those on the go, the boxed lunch menu is perfect, whether you’re feeding folks for a company meeting or an evening get-together.

Regardless of flavor or dietary needs, Nelson says her goals are to keep it simple and grow in the community.

“The area is growing. I think every day someone comes in and says, ‘This is my first time here!’ It’s so much fun,” she says. “It’s a pretty simple concept, it’s just that good ol’ fashion scratch cooking with great service and just the basics.”

Oak Eatery
190 Westfalen Trail, Hamel

Going to the Source
Oak Eatery strives to focus on local, in season food for each of its menus. Here’s where some of those goodies come from!

Clover Meadow Bakery
After Abby Cota was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2010, she set out to create gluten-free baked goods for her everyday life. From there, she began working on dairy-free, nut-free and overall allergy-friendly mixes for her friends, eventually creating a business in 2014.

“I figured that food is part of your basic needs and you shouldn’t have to worry all the time. People with multiple food allergies, you worry about eating everywhere,” Cota says. “I wanted to offer something that’s different than what’s out there.”

From farmer’s markets to wholesale, Cota slings allergy-sensitive breads, pizza crusts, donuts, and the fan favorite—cinnamon rolls.

“Oak Eatery is amazing to work with. Dawn is so sweet and been very helpful being a new business. It makes it that much better,” says Cota.

Last July, Clover Meadow Bakery opened its first brick-and-mortar store in Maple Lake. If you’re looking for dietary-friendly options at home, Cota’s specially prepared baking mixes are also available for purchase.

To read more about Clover Meadow, check out the March 2017 issue of Maple Grove Magazine.

27 Birch Ave. S., Maple Lake.
Facebook: Clover Meadow Bakery

Clover Meadow Bakery

Knapton’s Orchard
For over 40 years, Knapton’s has been operating what farmer Mel Knapton calls “no-frills.”

“We don’t have a petting zoo, if people want fresh things they can either pick it or purchase,” he says.

And throughout the season, there’s a lot to pick. Cherries, plums, pears, apples, pumpkins, cucumbers, Brussels sprouts, cut flowers, and the Rockford farm’s namesake raspberries.

Nelson gets tomatoes, squash, and other vegetables there.

“She’s been a regular person for tomatoes and said that their BLTs are a hit! I’m sure they are, a fresh picked tomato is much better,” Knapton says.

Whether you’re out to craft the perfect sandwich or just looking for fresh goods for the kitchen, Knapton’s is open to all, usually beginning in late June, he says. Look for fresh berry picking in the summer months, and pumpkins, corn, and other fall favorites once autumn begins rolling in.
And to check out Knapton’s Orchard, visit them in person or online.

5695 Hwy 55 Rockford


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