The new Design District eatery Oak Tavern is as comfortable as a pair of hand-me-down jeans. Brooklyn-born chef/owner David Bracha has been around a while — more than two decades of learning the quirks of South Florida diners. His River Oyster Bar has been a favorite of the Brickell set since it opened 10 years ago.
Here, the low-key veteran and his Hawaiian-born chef de cuisine, Curtis Rhodes, rifle the global pantry to turn out comfort-food fare including cheeseburgers, deviled eggs, oven-roasted meatballs, crispy pig’s ears and kale topped with smoked pimento fried egg, bronzino with Moroccan carrot salad and tasty little bahn mi. Housemade charcuterie and an ample raw bar that includes shellfish, ceviche and oysters every which way round out the something-for-everyone menu. On Thursday nights you can even sample a pho with a hearty broth and loads of fresh salad on top, including threads of young papaya, cilantro and scorching red bird’s eye chilies. Bracha, who was one of the first Miami chefs to embrace the locavore movement, puts out plenty of farm-foraged beauties.
Ambience: Worn brick walls enclose a cozy room lined with chocolate banquettes, rustic wood branded tables, low lighting and funky lamp bases made of tree trunks. The been-there-forever feel contrasts with the clean lines of the modern barrel lampshades and a communal table that can seat 20. But the best seats in the house are beneath the namesake tree where polka dots of shade make you feel like you are on a cool and breezy tropical vacation.
What Didn't Work