Dark-staining clear light oak? Or start w/darker oak?
If we don't go for an exotic wood and don't go for a distressed look, the alternative we're looking for would be a solid wood with not much grain that can be chocolate-brown stained. (We'd like it to stand up to some abuse; we had oak and that did decently, so favorably disposed to trying it again.)
Anyway, what are your thoughts on the idea of, to keep grain pattern unobtrusive, going with a clear white oak - something high-grade - and staining (have good professional stainer) to a chocolate brown ... it would be that or staining an oak that's already darker, or going for a factory-stained version like the lovely choice at the link below. (Would still need to see that in person. We like that luminous deep glow and continuous expanse of pretty wood, as opposed to a streaky or choppy look. Others may love that, but looking for more monochromatic here.)
One question is whether, with a well-done stain, there are apt to be any problems with scratched areas showing lighter - or whether a good stain penetrates deep enough that it's not usually an issue.
Here is a link that might be useful: Mullican chocolate oak