Oscar’s Place, my happy place

         On a Tuesday night in early March, I sat down at a small table and a glass of water was brought to me. Sure, it was just water, but they remembered to put a straw in it. 

         They remembered me.

I’d only been to this restaurant for two meals before the straw experience, and already the staff remembered that I had asked for a straw each time I’d come. I, of all people—a 39-year old woman, require a straw to drink beverages with any ease. 

         Certainly, in the minority of humans older than eight years of age who require the drinking assistance of a straw, I know I’m different. I use straws all the time.

         That’s no lie.

         Meanwhile “Oscar” is the 11-year old son of Neil Smith, seasoned British restaurateur and owner of  “Oscar’s Place,” a British/Belgian restaurant in the heart of the West Village, at 466 Hudson St. 

         Not even Oscar uses straws as much as I do—you can bet!

         The owner represents the restaurant. Neil is fun and charming, but unlike the physical restaurant, he never stops talking.

How it got started

Oscar’s Place - Restaurant in West Village, NY

Oscar’s Place - Restaurant in West Village, NY

         “Oscar’s Place” had formerly been a Belgian restaurant named “Petite Abeille,” but today “Oscar’s Place” is a Belgian-British fusion bistro that has held onto some of the Belgian dishes that made the previous restaurant so great, while also adding new British plates. All five locations of “Petite Albeille” that used to exist in NYC have now closed, so the remnants of that particular Belgian fare can only be found on “Oscar’s Place’s” menu. 

         But by incorporating dishes typical of both English and Belgian cuisines, “Oscar’s Place” maintains a varied menu from “fish & chips” and “bangers & mash” to “French onion soup” and “waffles”. Beers from both nations are included, as well. *Look at their full menu online. I promise, you won’t be disappointed!

         The food served at this place is beyond exceptional, but the relaxed and comfortable atmosphere is what keeps the patrons coming back day after day. 

         It’s a cool place to hang out. 

         The owner even describes it as, “… one of those nice happy friendly places that everyone can relate to—an extension of your home a little bit.”

         In addition to the comfort provided to the patrons, the clever owner, Neil Smith, always keeps the mood light with humor and good cheer.

Neil’s take…

         People find favorite spots to eat, drink, and carouse no matter where they are. Patrons who work in the Village, or nearby, stop into “Oscar’s Place” daily, not solely for their cups of coffee, but to check in with Neil, the owner, as well as the other patrons. It has a good following.

         Like he had decided to partake in an inverse game of Jeopardy, Neil agreed to contribute to this article. While he was already very busy taking food orders, delivering dishes to tables, and counting change, but he offered his two cents in a classic question-answer format. In his British accent he began by asking, “What is it about Oscar’s Place that can lift a weary spirit?” While picking up some used cutlery from a nearby table of people who had just left, Neil responded to his own question by saying, “Y’need a quick ‘fix’ with a coffee.” And then in third person, he stated, “Come see Neil, [he’s] always good for a laugh…” 

The physical restaurant: Looks can be deceiving

 “Oscar’s Place” is the embodiment of charm.

         Its interior design is casual, almost too casual, it may seem...

         But don’t be deceived.

Yes, Oscar’s is quite tiny, but it has an outdoor seating space that is divine. Inside, the haphazard placement of tables and wooden school chairs on vinyl black and white checkerboard flooring do nothing to take away from the fabulous cuisine that is served on weekdays between 8am and 11pm, and on weekends between 9am and 11pm, or 10pm on Sundays. The unfinished walls give a cozier feel to the place than a new fully renovated room could ever bestow. Oscar’s Place may look slightly disheveled, but it’s lovely. Truly, lovely.

What got me is sure to get you, too.

         What will initially get you about Oscar’s though is what got me—the inviting large front window covered by an enlarged painted teapot. This conspicuous visual asserts Oscar’s Place’s significance to the neighborhood. A Brit in the West Village.

No one, or thing, takes him/itself too seriously here.

         This is why it is so beloved.

         And that, my friends, is an energy you can feel; it’s energy to love. 

Single-handedly, Oscar’s has made me, Francoise Gordon,formerly a bitter middle- aged curmudgeon, into a happier person. Like nothing I could have ever imagined, I am a changed woman.  In a few short weeks, I found that to be exposed a lot to people with such positive outlooks, in a casual setting, did wonders for my own attitude.

         And just like that, after a month was over, I was nice again!

         Can the levity and humor of Oscar’s rub off on you, too??

         Answer: You better believe it can.

         Really, it’s so happy there. You’re destined to feel upbeat and encouraged, too.

         Its staff (from the chefs, to the managers, to utility employees) is cheery and delightful, as are its patrons; the food is scrumptious and affordable. I never regret spending time there—even if it is too much time.

         And I always spend too much time there. 

And I say all this after only being a customer for only about a month and a half. 

         I’ll write again in six more months to update you further. 

And I keep hearing how the place gets even better during summer months, anyway! (With the outside seating) 

         Don’t worry; I’ll tell you all about it then.