Miami’s Oak Tavern: A Culinary Delight

Walk the streets of Miami’s hip and rapidly changing Design District and you’ll find all the big names: Christian Louboutin, Burberry, Valentino, Prada and more.

Add to that list another name, perhaps less involved with fashion but held no less dear to those in the know. The Miami foodie scene has long embraced the culinary creations of Chef David Bracha. With the success of restaurants 411 on South Beach and River Seafood & Oyster Bar downtown, Bracha carries with him all the expertise needed to make a splash in Miami’s most discerning neighborhood.

Now in its third year, the Oak Tavern offers guests a welcome respite after a day spent shopping for the latest designer fashions. The atmosphere of this modern-American restaurant is completely devoid of pretension, however, making it the perfect spot to revive buyers and window shoppers alike.

I arrived on a Monday night, hungry and already salivating over the descriptions of dishes I’d read on the website. I flipped my keys to the friendly valet and entered through the brick archway. The space opened up into a large patio centered around an impressive oak tree. Though January, it was the perfect night to sit out under the stars. I can only imagine how popular this place must be on a Friday or Saturday night.

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The interior is tastefully done, with warm lighting and a mixture of tables and banquettes. The focal point is a large communal table made of solid wood, which separates the bar area from the main dining room. A beautiful touch.

But speaking of taste, we were there for the food, and eager to dig in. We started with a half-dozen oysters, hailing from the east coast and accompanied by a gorgeous champagne mignonette. Paired with a glass of vino verdhe from Portugal and we were easing into what promised to be a stellar meal.

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For the second course we chose to be a bit more daring, opting to try two small plates; the octopus a la plancha and rabbit sausage with gnocchi, truffle and a sumptuous taleggio cheese sauce couldn’t be passed by. The pungent Italian cheese used for that sauce made the perfect accompaniment to balance the taste of the rabbit. To put it mildly, it was delicious. The octopus was served over a smoked potato salad with a dill mustard vinaigrette, another powerful combination of flavors.

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At this point we were wishing that our stomachs had the stamina to keep up with our eyes, so we chose to split a large plate. The suckling pig caught our attention, cooked in a Caja China slow-roasting box and served over creamy grits.

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The waitress was extremely knowledgable about all the dishes and various cooking techniques, helping to guide us through the excruciating decision making process. And we were highly satisfied with our final choice. The generous portion of pig made it perfect for sharing, especially since we still had one more course to go.

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When out for a true dining experience, one should never, if possible, ever skip out on dessert. Our strategic ordering thus far meant we had just enough room to share a slice of peanut butter mousse pie. And it was divine.

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It’s worth noting that you may or may not find the same dishes I so thoroughly enjoyed when you visit Oak Tavern. Chef Bracha keeps his menu fresh by rotating dishes and ingredients based on the best of what’s available. On the flip side, this means there’s always some other wonderful new creation to try. The restaurant is open daily for dinner, with lunch available Monday through Thursday, brunch Saturday and Sunday. And Happy Hour specials seven days a week. You can’t ask for better than that.

Amy Lynne Hayes

Amy Lynne Hayes is a freelance writer and designer best known for her absolute refusal to stay in one place for very long. After studying art and design in Orlando, London and Paris, and working for a boutique design firm in Melbourne, Australia, Amy focused her attention on her first passion: travel. Her blog, Créatrice Mondial, means “global creator” - the perfect description. She recently set up home base is Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where she can usually be foundsipping wine on her balcony, dreaming up her next great adventure.

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