This month, the foodies escaped the cold with heaping servings of comfort food at the Oak Barrel Tavern, which just opened earlier this year. The most striking thing about the restaurant for many diners was the transformation the space had undergone. Before opening this June, the new owners completely gutted the former Tweed’s space. Beautiful wood features and industrial flourishes made up the transformation. The bar itself is large, bright and inviting. The rest of the restaurant is cozy and comfortable – there’s even a fireplace with some comfy leather chairs at one end.
“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,” said Evan.
The menu was largely filled with the “pub grub” the foodies expected to find in a tavern. There were a few twists you don’t always see on a bar menu, including several varieties of mac and cheese and country fried steak.
Many of the foodies started with items from the “Tavern Treats” section of the menu, which were shareable small plates. The Bavarian-style soft pretzels with a Wisconsin beer cheese sauce for dipping earned high praise. “The soft pretzels were warm and salty, like you would expect and the cheese dipping sauce was wonderful,” said Stephanie of the pretzels. Joe recommended the chicken wings saying, “The chicken wings at OBT are really good. I have had them with a few beers at the bar watching baseball and football and the flavors are fantastic – especially the OBT Stinger wings!”
For main entrees, everyone seemed to gravitate toward their perfect comfort food – of which the menu had many offerings. Most left slightly disappointed with their food, though. “My overall feeling of Oak Barrel Tavern’s food is that it is your basic ‘pub’ food that can be found pretty much anywhere,” noted Scott.
The chicken fried steak was small and the mac and cheese was a bit bland, diners said. Some did find fulfilling entrees, while others said perfectly-cooked green beans stole the show for them.
“The fish was delightful, beer battered and fried, hot and a huge portion. Lots of crinkle fries too along with a small portion of very tasty cole slaw. The fish, while fried, wasn’t heavy yet light and very flavorful,” Joe described his fish and chips. Julie delighted in her order of a veggie burger and crinkle cut fries.
“It was a large, delicious burger with a lot of veggies and even bits of potato in it (not the typical frozen, bland kind). The fries, well, they were crinkle cut, what more can I say? Delicious, and they happen to be my favorite!” Julie said. Stephanie’s side order of a Worcester Wedge had her ready to go back for the full salad. “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.”
One thing everyone agreed on was that OBT offered excellent service. Attentive wait staff, quick with both the food and drinks, made everyone feel welcome. “OBT would be a great place to go out with friends or coworkers after work to hang out and grab a few drinks,” said David. OBT made the foodies feel so welcome, they spent the better part of four hours there without even realizing it.
“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,” said Evan.