In early November, chef/restaurateur David Bracha will open Oak Tavern, a welcoming neighborhood bar & restaurant in the heart of the Miami Design District at 35 NE 40th Street (between North Miami and NE First Avenues). The talented, low key Brooklyn-born chef and restaurateur, a fixture on the Miami dining scene since he opened his first South Beach restaurant, 411, in 1992 and whose downtown Miami seafood restaurant, River Seafood & Oyster Bar has garnered consistently stellar reviews for cuisine, service and ambiance for close to ten years, has been contemplating a Design District restaurant for quite some time.
“I’m a big fan of the area – I’ve lived in the neighborhood since 1997,” offered Bracha,” and for a while now, I’ve been keeping my eyes open for the right spot to open a restaurant in the Design District. As businesses and restaurants continue to flock to the area, the timing seems right for a fresh concept that will appeal to locals, visitors and the creative professionals that work in the District.”
Oak Tavern, so named for the majestic transplanted giant oak tree which graces its outdoor patio, will offer guests the same unpretentious, convivial vibe that is the trademark of the River Seafood & Oyster Bar. Occupying approximately 5,500 square feet with a big bar that can accommodate 15 and indoor/outdoor seating for 140; guests enter from the street into a beautifully landscaped patio, which will seat about 50 for drinks and dining. Once inside, guests can enjoy cocktails, premium brews and wines by the glass at the welcoming bar, relax in a comfortable banquette or at tables made of reclaimed wood, or take a seat at the large, wood-hewn communal table. The comprehensive American menu extends the spirit of hospitality, inviting sharing with a selection of small plates, snacks, pizzas, charcuterie and large plates as well as daily specials, all crafted from fresh, quality ingredients. And yes, the glorious oysters that make the River such a standout will be available here too, as well as a slew of other raw bar/seafood specialties.
Long an advocate of supporting local farmers and vendors including Borek Farms, Paradise Farms and Keys Gate Farm; Bracha promises that most of the menu items will be house made – there is a spot out back for roasting pigs for the spit roasted succulent pig plate. Much of the charcuterie will be made in house – from coppa de testa to potted foie gras mousse, and there will be an assortment of house made sodas available at the bar, just to name a few. Bracha’s menu is still in development, but price points should range from $5 for tasty snacks like bone marrow crostini with salsa verde to $25 for large plates such as grass-fed culotte steak with shishito peppers, heirloom sweet 100s, green onion and romesco sauce. In between, diners will feast on a plethora of flavorful and creatively conceived selections ranging from smoked lamb ribs served with kale pesto, yogurt and mint, to duck pizza with pear, mustard, wild mushrooms and fontina to large plates like whole yellowtail snapper and roasted lamb shoulder. In addition there will be weekly specials – with a different dish each night of the week, from “Sunday Gravy” to “Fried Chicken & Biscuits.”
Naturally, the bar will be a central focus of Oak Tavern, with an emphasis on microbrews, a great wine program and a broad selection of bourbons, single malts and specialty cocktails made with farm fresh ingredients. All of this is under the aegis of Bracha’s director of operations and beverage director, Michael Hidalgo, who also fills that role at River Seafood & Oyster Bar.
What’s a great bar without a fabulous Happy Hour? Oak Tavern will embrace the concept of attitude adjustment with both drink and snacks specials during the week, and will open nightly for dinner; with plans for lunch and brunch service to begin soon after opening.