If you can remember what the interior of Tweed’s used to looks like you will remember a lot of wood, old décor, dark greens and carpets…pretty much a recipe for failure or something you might expect to see on the latest episode of Restaurant: Impossible. However, the end result is the Oak Barrel Tavern, which is an establishment that even Robert Irvine would be proud of. The atmosphere was bright and inviting, with a plethora of woods, stones and textures that make the space really pop. A combination of modern lodge and classic pub tavern is the best way to describe it, with all the modern amenities you have come to expect from new restaurants. You will hardly remember what the old interior looked like with such a drastic re-do.

There were a wide array of choices on the menu that it took some studying to narrow down what I was going to order. The recent trend that we are seeing are restaurants offering smaller plates to share (think tapas) at a more reasonable price. OBT is no different. After picking out the Bavarian Soft Pretzels ($7.99) as a starter, which were salty and chewy by the way, I decided on the OBT meatloaf ($15.99). Now before you ask why, I have to admit that meatloaf was a standby in my household growing up, so it’s one of those dishes that I associate with as comforting. It’s not something I have often now as an adult and I order it even less seldom than I make it, but I still wanted to give it a try and throw it back to my childhood. It was advertised as being grilled and basted in Sriracha Bourbon sauce, while being served with mashed potatoes and green beans. I opted to substitute the mashed potatoes with tater tots, hoping that the tots were going to be homemade. Unfortunately, I was disappointed as they were of the generic variety. While deliciously brown and crispy, I am still searching for a place to make their own tots. The meatloaf seemed slightly underwhelming as well. It was a little dry, and had it not been for the Sriracha bourbon sauce to give it a tangy, spiciness, it would have completely fallen flat. The green beans however were cooked perfectly al dente and seasoned beautifully. It’s not often that I get to say that the vegetable was the highlight of the meal. The meatloaf was topped with onion rings, and while they were delicious, they seemed out of place in the presentation of the meal. The portion size was great though, as it definitely filled me up and left me no room for dessert.

Being such a large group, I was surprised in our service. I thought the wait staff did a great job getting everyone’s drinks, share-ables and main dishes out in a timely manner. Time and time again, we see that we can overwhelm a kitchen and the quality suffers as a result. The dinners came out at a nice interval and were hot and ready to eat. We could not really ask for a better end result.

I was quite happy with the overall experience had at the OBT. It was a breathe of fresh air in an otherwise exhausted space and it pays dividends. The décor is one of my favorites in recent memories and can easily see myself there to enjoy a casual meal or catch a game. The menu had enough of variety and familiarity to satisfy whatever craving you might have. While my meal wasn’t everything I had hoped it would be, it still will not deter me from going back in the future. As a group, we were enjoying the space and everyone’s company so much that we quickly realized we had spent the better part of four hours together. I’m sure that the OBT will gain all the old Tweed customers and then some if they can continue to improve on their solid foundation.

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