Oak Tavern, the laid-back, American restaurant from chef/restauranteur David Bracha of The River Seafood Oyster Bar opened in the Design District in late November. Named for the giant oak tree growing standing in the middle of its patio, the restaurant features a locally-sourced menu of house-made charcuterie, wood fired pizzas, fresh oysters and both small and shared plates. The early reviews from diners have been largely enthusiastic, both towards the food and the warm atmosphere. Here's a roundup of what diners are saying:
The Good News: Miami restaurant blogger Gourmandj loves all of the small plates, from the scallops "seared to perfection and beautifully wrapped in bacon" to the "gorgeous" fava "with fatty duck prosciutto and a perfectly poached egg sitting atop a crispy baguette slice." The only small disappointment is the homemade charcuterie, which is "fine but slightly dry." But to make up for that, the bacon marmalade crostini is "sweet, creamy and crunchy to the bite; a winner."
The Pretty Good News: One Yelper seems generally happy with their meal, but only gives it three stars. "To be honest," she says, "I wanted to love everything about this place but the meal seriously peaked at this tuna dish." Although the gazpacho is "cool and refreshing", and the chicken is "large and well-prepared," the duck salad was "spicy and pretty unappetizing so we had to send it back (something I rarely do)." "Overall" she concludes, "nothing stood out and made me want to yell at all of my friends, 'Try this place NOW!'"
The Shocking News: Another Yelper gives four stars for the "home spun, locally sourced vibe" remarking that "even the water is "quadruple filtered" in house". He describes one great meal of "roasted beets with goat cheese, stone crab crostini, roasted scallops wrapped in speck, delicious tender lamb ribs with mint & yogurt, and one of the very best slices of warm Apple pie I've ever had." But on another occasion this diner was "shocked" to find "a $10 "speck charge" added on top of a $14 burger", after the waiter had "rather aggressively" suggested he add a slice of speck to the burger. Everything worked out in the end though, and "this unreasonable charge was fortunately taken off the check."
The Meaty News: Many reviews seem to agree with the one Foursquare reviewer who comments: "The bacon marmalade crostini could make this place world famous," and in general there is, as one OpenTable reviewer points out, "an emphasis on pork: bacon butter (delicious), bacon marmalade crostini (yum), spare ribs (loved 'em), scallops w/Virginia Ham (very nice), and suckling pig, pork belly."
The Inattentive News: While some reviews of the service are glowing, a few diners have left feeling ignored. One Yelper gives a one star review after being "seated in the communal table where someone's used water glasses were left behind for us to enjoy." He describes waiting 20 minutes before "a waiter leaned over from the opposite end of the communal table and said 'Sup'". It was then another 20 minutes after the drinks had arrived before the
"the waiter casually floated by and threw us some unrecognizable hand signals which I assume we had to decode in order to be served. Nonetheless, we expressed that we were finished with this place and then 15 minutes later we were finally granted with what seemed to be a favor by receiving our check."
The Hip News: A few reviewers remarked on the comfortable setting, including one Yelp reviewer who thought the restaurant well-suited for all kinds: "Walking in this restaurant makes you feel like you are walking into someone's home...As you enter past the large oak tree in the front patio area, you can't help but notice the dark wood tones, warm ambient lighting, brick walls and plentiful seating, all of which reminded me of walking into the home of my family. The atmosphere is hip, yet laid back. I noticed all sort of people; from a group of young professionals having a drink at the bar, to a girlfriends night out on the town, a couple on date night, right down to my table for dinner with my family."