Don't be surprised if you get a case of deja vu when entering Oak Tavern (35 NE 40 Street) for the first time. The new Design District eatery has had a few incarnations in the past as Pacific Time and Andalus, but the real reason why Oak Tavern feels so welcoming is the soft lighting in the courtyard, the lanterns hanging from the 60 year-old oak tree that anchors the space, and the warm vibe it gives off.
Chef/owner David Bracha of River Oyster Bar, has given Miami a new unpretentious place to get good food and drink with friends at a reasonable price.
Short Order was invited to try some dishes at Oak Tavern.
The menu consists of mostly shared items, with a half dozen large plates. While the menu isn't large, it has interesting options like oven baked bone marrow and a bahn mi with pork belly and foie gras. Daily specials include meatloaf on Mondays, southern fried chicken on Wednesday, pho on Thursdays, and Sunday gravy. A full bar and a good selection of craft beers are available. All items are well priced, with most offerings under $20.
Our server suggested we order a dish from the first selection, a few
from the small plates, and a large plate to share. We ordered four small
plates and shared a pizza, which was more than enough to satisfy. Also
available are snacks and house-cured meats for a charcuterie. Chef Bracha takes advantage of his seafood connections from River Oyster Bar, serving fresh shellfish, crudos, and sashimi.
Charcuterie platter of Virginia ham ($12), speck Americano ($10), and house-cured salami ($6), served with flatbreads, pickled vegetables, and mustards. Most of the meats are made in-house.
House cured maple bacon ($5) is a thick strip of bacon, served on butcher paper, pre-cut into bite sized pieces to pick up with your fingers and pop into your mouth like bacon candy.
Chef Bracha brings his grilled oysters with garlic chile butter from River Oyster Bar to Oak Tavern ($10).
Stone crab crostini with avocado, dill, and lemon ($12) make for Floridian take on a traditional lobster roll.
Roasted mushrooms are served with peas, wax beans, Virginia ham, and a poached egg ($12). Varieties may change with season, but are likely chanterrelles or shiitakes.
A shareable duck pizza with mustard, mushrooms, fontina, and balsamic is full of flavorful (not fatty) meat ($14).
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Pumpkin cheesecake is surprisingly light, with a good pumpkin-to-cheesecake ratio. Unlike many cheesecakes, this is a fitting end to a meal that won't make you feel like you swallowed a brick.