Immediately upon walking into Oak Barrel Tavern, I was in complete shock. When we walked in all I could say was “Wow!” The interior was gorgeous! I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect, many restaurant renovations tend to fall flat with the renovation part and often don’t change much at all, but in the case of the new Grove St. tavern, I was pleasantly surprised. If you remember Tweed’s, the old restaurant that occupied this space, you probably remember going there with your grandmother or after the Worcester St. Patrick’s Day parade. The decor was a bit older and kind of dingy, but it was one of those places that you just went as a regular and didn’t think much of it.

The Oak Barrel Tavern is totally different. There is a beautiful bar on the right-hand side when you walk into the wide-open space and another circular bar ahead of you on the other side of the dining room. There are several high-top tables as well as booths welcoming any patron willing to come in for a bite or grab a drink after a long, hard work day. The night was drizzly, but inside the restaurant was warm and inviting. Metal and wood adorned the space that reminded me of the tavern in the famous “Gaston” song from “Beauty and the Best”. The bar was, in the very least, extensive. I had looked at the menu online in preparation and there were so many wonderful options, which even included 2 ciders!

Oak Barrel Tavern offered many “Shareable” plates along with enough entrees to appeal to pickiest of eaters. We opted for the Bavarian Soft Pretzels paired with Wisconsin beer cheese sauce. This was a nice way to start the evening. The soft pretzels were warm and salty, like you would expect and the cheese dipping sauce was wonderful.

For my meal, I ordered the Truffle Mac and Cheese. I have been reluctant to get Mac and Cheese on a Foodies trip because I usually like to make the meal part of the adventure and get something a bit out of my comfort zone. Anyone that knows me, knows that Mac and Cheese is on top of my list of favorite meals. The Mac and Cheese At Oak Barrel was no different, though it didn’t wow me, the same way other mac and cheese dishes have other places. For me, the dish was a bit bland. The cavatappi, which is quite frankly the best pasta choice to use for mac and cheese was wonderful and perfectly cooked, but the cheese blend just didn’t do it. It just was not cheesy enough and there wasn’t much of a sauce to it. I think if I were to get this again, I may add chicken or something else to spice it up.

I also ordered a half-sized Worcester Wedge. This, is what stole the show for me! The crisp iceberg lettuce was topped with jalapeno bacon, which offered the most delightful heat to offset the salty bleu cheese crumbles and the balsamic glaze was wonderful and added a sweet tang to each bite. I would come back to get this salad in a heartbeat!

The service was nice. Nothing over the top, but definitely not bad. The waitress was very attentive with the drink orders and the food was delivered very quickly.

Overall, I would definitely go to Oak Barrel Tavern again! I think it is located in a nice spot for people working in Worcester to go to and grab a bite and a drink after a long week or a long day. And with so many menu options, I am sure there is something you will find!

Christmas shopping for fine art collectibles and inspiration at Vaillancourt Folk Art in Sutton, MA