If you haven’t already heard of The River Oyster Bar from Chef David Bracha you are seriously deprived. As soon as I heard he was opening Oak Tavern in the design district, I knew I had to plan my attack.
Even though this past gloomy Saturday I thought dementors were about to attack, I didn’t let it bring me down. Joey and I decided to pay this new restaurant a very necessary visit. Luckily, we didn’t have to wait for a spot. We even parked on the street! Hmm..maybe I should start going out more when it rains.
At nighttime it’s practically impossible to miss this place since, there is a brightly lit sign resembling a Broadway Musical headline. Once I was greeted by the hostess, I walked through their charming outdoor dining room inside the restaurant directly towards the bar (my second home). If you want a more intimate spot, catch one of the tables by the semi-open kitchen. Larger groups can always rejoice at the longer community table in front of their flat screen. Thankfully, there were a few seats left at the bar; I guess it was meant to be.
As soon as we sat, the patient bartender Roger introduced himself. And I say patient because, typical Joey always likes to take his time finding a perfect wine. I would have opted for wine but, I was hoping to get an energetic buzz for the birthday party we were headed to afterwards. Since, I’m such a fan of a gin and HEAT (check out my recipes) I chose to sip on The Green Mile. It’s made with smooth ambler gin, cucumber, chile and lime. I know how odd chile and gin sound but, it combined together pretty harmoniously. Some other cooling cocktail options include their watermelon caipirihna or their house lemon, thyme infused vodka. If you’re more of a beer aficionado, they have a respectable amount on draft like Duvel and the Big Rod. Bigger is always better!
While I was pleasantly enjoying my cocktail an unexpected basket with homemade biscuits arrived. Oh my god… Oh my good good..OMFG. They were off the chain, insane in the membrane -delicious. I hardly never waste my time on bread but, these make KFC biscuits look like cardboard. And if I thought it couldn’t get any better, it did. Say hello, to bacon butter. No, this is not a sick joke.
When you dine at Oak Tavern (you will) it’s a good idea to know what you’re in the mood for. You really could dive into any direction here. Yes, of course Bracha has oysters here. Their menu layout is very similar to Michael’s Genuine, arranged from smaller to extra-larger plates. However, they do have a larger assortment of charcuteries. Every thing literally sounds delicious, it’s almost overwhelming. I didn’t want anything too filling, and I knew I wanted to try their Kale Caesar since, I adore the leafy salad from The River. I let Joey order and he went the charcuterie route which I wasn’t opposed to. You have the option of picking 3 cured meats for $22 or 3 cheeses for $16.
Let me dish:
- Country Rabbit Pate: Dear Jelly Bean, I’m sorry you recently passed and I might have eaten your brother but, he was incredibly tasty. He wasn’t too rich and I very much appreciated his subtle flavor and slight gaminess. What even made him more delectable was the acidic addition of grainy mustard, pickled red onion and cornichon. RIP JB.
- Duck Prosciutto: Thanks Roger for recommending this radiant cured meat. The thick slices of toasted artisan bread and mustard fruit married well with it. I almost wish all prosciutto was made from duck. Quack.
- Kale Caesar: Just like I expected, this was just as delicious as the kale salad from The River. It wasn’t too wet and the random radishes and pickled anchovy gave it such a thoughtful comforting compliment. Radishes and Caesar shockingly pair well.
- Morbier Cheese: Out of everything, I preferred this the least. I strongly respect it and REALLY tried to want to eat it. For me, it tasted like it smelled. Even the combination of blackberries and cheese didn’t please me. Joey fancied it more than I, especially with the duck cured meat. This French cheese seemed to be aged a very long time and if you’re a sophisticated lover of this dairy product - go for it.
- Worthy note=The charcuterie plates come with the tastiest pickled vegetables I’ve ever eaten. It strongly inspires to make my own but, that probably will never happen.
Overall, the culinary style is very rustic and cozy yet, sophisticated and really rich in some cases with dishes like duck pizza ($15) Pork Belly Bahn Mi ($10), and the Gnocchi & Beef Cheek Ragout ($20). It almost reminded me of eating in a classier kind of cabin. The specials they offer Sunday through Thursday all sounds equally delicious, especially the Bahamian Style Fried Snapper. My Nassau native grandfather would go crazy for that!
Oak Tavern is the type of restaurant you don’t want to leave. Everything about it is completely humble, from the staff to the ambiance. I’m definitely coming back with a bigger appetite and an even bigger purse to fit some biscuits into. Shh.. If you want to give this gem a try, go during happy hour which is EVERY DAY from 4:30-7PM or bar snacking from 3-6. They also serve brunch every Sunday from 10:30AM-2:00 PM, which I’m tickled to try.
I’ve come to the realization that David Bracha could never do wrong…well at least when it comes to food.
He won me over, again.
Location: 35 NE 40th Street
Happy Hour: Every day 4:30-7
Hours: Pretty much open all day every day from noon till 10:30, except they start at 10:30 AM on Sundays and close by 9:30
Attire: Trendy but, cozy