Country Fried Steak at Oak Barrel Tavern

Country Fried Steak at Oak Barrel Tavern

A little blurb on the atmosphere and ambiance. As I’m told, this used to be the old “Tweed’s” restaurant and has now changed hands and is under new ownership. I had never been to Tweed’s before, so I have no prior experience as to the its previous atmosphere, but I’m told this is much better and nicer. Oak Barrel Tavern has seen a great renovation and apparently it’s too the liking of many people I was with this night. For me it clearly looked renovated and was clean and well lit with “open” lighting. We were sent to the back room and had our own area for our group. That was nice. It fit our group of 12 people and had room for many more. If you were having a small event, it would be a nice room to have it in.

I ordered the Country Fried Steak. I was thinking, “You don’t see that often on a menu.” Naturally, I had to try it. I’ve had many country fried steaks in my life as I spent a good part of my life growing up in the south. I’ve had some amazing home made country fried steaks and also many great ones from restaurants down south. That being said, I’m a bit spoiled and I’m very aware of this, which means when my country friend steak arrived, I was disappointed. Very small, overcooked and a bit burned on the breading. The breading itself was pretty much nonexistent. I was looking forward to a wonderfully cooked light but fluffy breading, but alas It wasn’t there. It was served with either mashed potatos or crinkle cut fries. I should have had the mashed potoatos. The fries looked like they were poured out of a bag of frozen fries from Orida. It also came with green beans on the side. Those were my favorite part of the meal. My overall feeling of Oak Barrel Tavern’s food is that it is your basic “Pub” food that can be found pretty much anywhere. If that’s your thing, then I think you’ll love it. I admit I’m pretty spoiled and was hoping for something special, but it’s not a place a “Foodie” would go to have a great meal.

Our server was very attentive and helpful. Service is very important to me and I have to say it was very good and friendly.

Overall, I don’t think I would go back to this place for food. It was a nice atmosphere and the staff was pleasant. If you just wanted to hang out with friends and have a drink and have some pub food, I’m sure this would be a fine place to do that. If you are a foodie and are looking for something wonderful, it’s definitely not your place.

The Left Coast Burger at Oak Barrel Tavern on Grove Street in Worcester, MA

Vino and The Left Coast Burger at Oak Barrel…

Oak Barrel Tavern, located at 229 Grove Street, is a contemporary style tavern with a menu full of comfort foods and an extensive drink list. I live in on the east side of Worcester which is filled with restaurants so naturally being the lazy person I am, I never venture out to this part of town, but I’m glad I did.

I started at the bar and ordered the chalk board special, the OBT mule. I love a good Moscow mule, especially one with a twist. This one had Absolut Oak vodka with fresh lime juice and ginger beer ($10). The oak added a smoky flavor which I really enjoyed. Once the rest of the group arrived we were seated in the back room and quickly began our night.

Our table started with some “tavern treats”, huge Bavarian soft pretzels accompanied by beer cheese and spicy mustard, as well as the RI style calamari that were served with huge fried jalapeños. After my moscow mule I continued on with a glass (or 3, oops) of Sauvignon Blanc; served in huge branded OBT wine glasses. I was torn between a salad or burger for dinner but ended up going with the burger and I kind of regret it.

The idea of it sounded great; a burger topped with avocado, fried jalapeños, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato and avocado/poblano aioli served with your choice of a side for under $12. I asked for it medium/medium-rare because I like them juicy but it came out very rare. I did enjoy the edges of this burger but when I got to the middle it was too pink for me. I wouldn’t tell someone not to order it or not give it another try, but I’d just make sure to ask for it cooked medium-well to be safe.

Although the burger took a turn for the worse, the service was wonderful. Our server Matt was engaging and seemed to be on top of things. Our drinks, apps and entrees came out in record time although the restaurant seemed pretty full for a Tuesday. I also noticed they host Trivia every Tuesday which would be another good reason for me to come back again.

Overall, I did enjoy Oak Barrel Tavern and do plan on coming again for appetizers and drinks at the bar. I’m dying to try the OBT Buffalo Chicken Dip and Randys Clam Chowder. I’d definitely recommend this spot for an after-work spot with co workers or a casual, cozy date night.

Country Fried Steak at the Oak Barrel Tavern on Grove Street in Worcester, MA

Country Fried Steak at the Oak Barrel Tavern

As I walked in the door I was stunned to see the detail and effort that was given to renovate the space that had formerly hosted Tweed’s for many years; the bar area and restaurant had a nice look and feel to them. We stopped in at the bar for a quick drink and were greeted by friendly bartenders and a decent beer and drink selection.

Oak Barrel Tavern offers a fairly traditional Pub/Tavern menu with classics like meatloaf, fish and chips, mac and cheese. After reviewing the menu I decided to go with what was described as an OBT signature item – The Country Fried Steak. The Country Fried Steak was served with mashed potato’s and green beans. The green beans were lightly grilled and had a nice taste to them and the mashed potatoes were also pretty good. The Country Fried Steak was rather small and non descript. While it is described as OBT classic I have the sneaking suspicion that it may have been a pre-portioned food service item. It was served with a brown gravy and was ok, but not something that I would have called a classic item on my menu.

Service at the OBT was good. Our server Matt was helpful and came around and checked on us and grabbed drinks whenever we needed. The atmosphere was nice and it had a comfortable pub feel and was nicely renovated with good attention to detail. OBT would be a great place to go out with friends or coworkers after work to hang out and grab a few drinks.

The Meatloaf from The Oak Barrel Tavern on Grove Street in Worcester, MA

The Oak Barrel Tavern Meatloaf Provides A Refreshing Riff…

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.

Veggie Burger on a multi-grain bun with lettuce, tomato and mayo from Oak Barrel Tavern on Grove Street in Worcester, MA.jpg

Oak Barrel Tavern Offers A Delicious Veggie Burger Option

Walking into the Oak Barrel Tavern I could not believe it was the old Tweeds, what a wonderful job they did updating it. At the far end of the restaurant is a gas fireplace and some cozy seats around it to enjoy a drink. The bar area is large and they incorporated some oak barrels for decoration that look fantastic. I almost like the bar area more than the dining area it is so cozy.

The menu had a lot of tempting items on it, I loved the variety and twists on the mac & cheese, though, I opted for the Veggie burger with lettuce, tomato, mayo on a multi-grain bun with a side of 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!

Matt was our waiter. He was very attentive, always around for drink refills or whatever we might need. Our food came out fast which was a bit surprising seeing as the restaurant was pretty busy for a Tuesday.

I would suggest the Oak Barrel for some great pub food, interesting variety of pub items or just go to enjoy the bar area or the fireplace! The food arrives quickly and the service is great and the overall atmosphere is comfortable and cozy.

Truffle Mac and Cheese at the Oak Barrel Tavern on Grove Street in Worcester, MA

When All Else Fails… Mac and Cheese!

Immediately upon walking into Oak Barrel Tavern, I was in complete shock. When we walked in all I could say was “Wow!” The interior was gorgeous! I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect, many restaurant renovations tend to fall flat with the renovation part and often don’t change much at all, but in the case of the new Grove St. tavern, I was pleasantly surprised. If you remember Tweed’s, the old restaurant that occupied this space, you probably remember going there with your grandmother or after the Worcester St. Patrick’s Day parade. The decor was a bit older and kind of dingy, but it was one of those places that you just went as a regular and didn’t think much of it.

The Oak Barrel Tavern is totally different. There is a beautiful bar on the right-hand side when you walk into the wide-open space and another circular bar ahead of you on the other side of the dining room. There are several high-top tables as well as booths welcoming any patron willing to come in for a bite or grab a drink after a long, hard work day. The night was drizzly, but inside the restaurant was warm and inviting. Metal and wood adorned the space that reminded me of the tavern in the famous “Gaston” song from “Beauty and the Best”. The bar was, in the very least, extensive. I had looked at the menu online in preparation and there were so many wonderful options, which even included 2 ciders!

Oak Barrel Tavern offered many “Shareable” plates along with enough entrees to appeal to pickiest of eaters. We opted for the Bavarian Soft Pretzels paired with Wisconsin beer cheese sauce. This was a nice way to start the evening. The soft pretzels were warm and salty, like you would expect and the cheese dipping sauce was wonderful.

For my meal, I ordered the Truffle Mac and Cheese. I have been reluctant to get Mac and Cheese on a Foodies trip because I usually like to make the meal part of the adventure and get something a bit out of my comfort zone. Anyone that knows me, knows that Mac and Cheese is on top of my list of favorite meals. The Mac and Cheese At Oak Barrel was no different, though it didn’t wow me, the same way other mac and cheese dishes have other places. For me, the dish was a bit bland. The cavatappi, which is quite frankly the best pasta choice to use for mac and cheese was wonderful and perfectly cooked, but the cheese blend just didn’t do it. It just was not cheesy enough and there wasn’t much of a sauce to it. I think if I were to get this again, I may add chicken or something else to spice it up.

I also ordered a half-sized Worcester Wedge. 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. I would come back to get this salad in a heartbeat!

The service was nice. Nothing over the top, but definitely not bad. The waitress was very attentive with the drink orders and the food was delivered very quickly.

Overall, I would definitely go to Oak Barrel Tavern again! I think it is located in a nice spot for people working in Worcester to go to and grab a bite and a drink after a long week or a long day. And with so many menu options, I am sure there is something you will find!

The Beer Battered Fish and Chips from Oak Barrel Tavern on Grove Street in Worcester, MA.

Fish & Chips at Oak Barrel Tavern Gets High…

Having been to Oak Barrel Tavern a few times before, I was excited to have our Foodies Group try this new upscale pub where Tweeds had resided for so many years. Make no mistake about it, Oak Barrel is completely new, completely renovated and no where do you see the remnants of Tweeds at all. The decor is very appealing and comfortable. Walking through the bar area, pas the open kitchen and to the dining room you pass by a very nicely situated gas fireplace which I am sure will be comfortable to sit by in the winter. The menu, while not super ambitious has a few interesting dishes not always found in your typical pub dining scene. The craft beer selection is good and from what I could tell from our table, the wine selection was just as good.

The menu has exactly what you would expect from a pub, lots of familiar sounding apps plus a few not so familiar like Fried Pickles and Peppers, Sugar Cane Shrimp and a nice looking Hummus Platter. We opted for the Bavarian Pretzels mostly because we had them once before and they were great. Same thing this time, you get 3 large, salted pretzels, served nice and hot with a great cheese sauce and an even better hot brown mustard. Side note….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 my main dish I was torn between the Jalapeno Bacon Mac & Cheese and the traditional Beer Battered Fish & Chips. Since a few of my dining compatriots had already ordered a few different versions of the Mac & Cheese, I order the Fish & Chips figuring I might be offered a taste from my dining friends. The fish was delightful, beer battered and fried, hot and a huge portion. Lots of krinkle fries too along with a small portion of very tasty cole slaw. The fish, while fried, wasn’t heavy yet light and very flavorful.

Our server Matt was very attentive, stopping with at our table often to refill glasses, get drink orders and bring napkins when needed. Even though it was a Tuesday night the room was busy but our food came out timely and from what I could tell, served nice and hot from the kitchen.

Overall I like Oak Barrel Tavern for what it is….a neighborhood pub, serving better than average pub food at reasonable pricesn a comfortable and nicely decorated atmosphere. The craft beer selection is nice and the bar area, which I have sat in many times is a great place to watch a game with friends, enjoy cocktails and appetizers. I would recommend OBT highly for a casual dinner!

Mac and Cheese at the Oak Barrel Tavern

Mac and Cheese at the Oak Barrel Tavern

When I walked in I was surprised at how great the place looked. What a wonderful overhaul to the old Tweed’s space. Nice bar space, great high tops off the bar, nice warm colors, great table sizes…And the hostess was very, very nice. The menu design looked updated and hip as well. I had high hopes for this new Oak Barrel Tavern. Especially since our waitress was on top of it. I had a drink in my hand within 5 mins of being there. NICE.

I looked over the menu. There were no surprises there. It was a very typical pub style menu with all the basics. So, I decided to go comfort food – it was a rainy night and I could use some warming up. Mac and Cheese sounded perfect. For 14.00 bucks I could order up a plate of Cavatappi pasta mixed with their own cheese blend and truffle oil. Topped with panko bread crumbs and baked golden brown. I could even add on some Buffalo Chicken or some shrimp or some veggies…Sounds yummy to me! But I stuck with tradition.

Let’s face it folks, I am a spoiled brat of a foodie. I have had some amazing mac and cheeses over the years. Including several mac and cheese’s made by some of the folks in this very foodies group that were down right stunningly delicious. So when my hot gooey plate of mac and cheese arrived I had high expectations. And they were quickly dashed. This was just nothing special. I plate of pasta from a bag tossed with some average tasting cheese, and lightly dusted with those panko crumbs. The portion was big- I’ll give them that, but if there was any truffle oil in there to add some flavor it was certainly hidden by a too small dose. After adding salt and some parmesan cheese from a shaker, I got enough flavor to have a decent meal.

Our server was great! She was always available to order more drinks and quick at getting our food out. The service here was excellent and sometimes that is enough to make me want to try a place again.

So, if you want a place to play trivia on a Tuesday night with some pals and grab a drink or two, this is a nice place to do that. If you’re looking for some typical pub foods, check out the Oak Barrel Tavern. The service is great.

Barely Legal Blackberry Moonshiner Burger from Bootlegger's Prohibition Pub on Chandler Street in Worcester, MA

Barely Legal Blackberry Moonshiner Burger

It seems the Maykel family has bootlegged their own property. One of Worcester’s first gluten-free and vegan-friendly restaurants (EVO) is survived by a completely redefined destination- Bootleggers Prohibition Pub. With far more than just a menu makeover, the entire space has been redesigned into a throwback saloon that would make the 1920’s jealous. Reclaimed wood beams and tables (literally reclaimed from his father’s decking according to Chef Albert Maykel) adorn the space accompanied by a big center bar and a chalkboard proudly displaying a wide variety of specialty moonshine.

My night begins and ends with a French 77- a concoction of cucumber gin, champagne, lemon juice and St. Germain. I was pleased to see some lemon pulp in the drink- ensuring me that the bartenders are using all fresh ingredients. I was peer-pressured into ordering an appetizer (much to my delight) and landed on the Southern Fried Lollypop Wings. It was the perfect size- 3 fried chicken pops served on a bed of coleslaw and bourbon infused maple syrup. I hate when appetizers are so big that they ruin your meal. The menu is what I expected – burgers, pressed sandwiches and flatbread pizza all appropriately named for the decade. However, a couple of sections stood out as different- Street Tacos and Prohibition (Hot) Dogs. I was tempted by the dogs but as many of you know, I spend much of my summer watching the Worcester Bravehearts at Hanover Insurance Park… eating hot dogs and drinking beer, so I decided to order the Blackberry Moonshiner Burger. This half-pound burger came covered in blackberry moonshine barbecue sauce topped with blue cheese, apple cider fromage, bacon, lettuce and onion. The combination of the cheese and BBQ sauce did make this a messy burger, albeit delicious. I just wouldn’t recommend ordering it on a first date. One of my dinner companions ordered the same thing so I felt completely justified in my general attack on this Angus beef patty. The litany of sides you can choose from is impressive- french fries, sweet potato fries, green beans and on and on. I must admit, I was jealous when my burger buddy’s meal came with a side of golden plantains that looked incredible. My fries weren’t great but you know that feeling… food guilt from what you wish you had ordered.

Service here was great, from friendly smiles at the entrance to attentive barmaids. The prices are very reasonable and the bar looks like a great place to belly-up at for Sunday football.

I think Bootleggers will make it’s mark on the Chandler St./Park Ave neighborhood. I asked Chef Maykel if there are any plans to add a password protected room or some kind of menu item that only appears by request… he smiled and said “maybe someday”. I guess I’ll have to just keep checking in to see how things shape up.

New England Clam Chowder & Veggie Sandwich from Bootleggers Prohibition Pub on Chandler Street in Worcester, MA

Chowda and Sandwich for Dinner at Bootlegger’s Prohibition Pub

My first thought was that Bootleggers Prohibition Pub had a nice looking makeover and could I get some moonshine at the huge bar. Turns out you can! So let the drinks flow…

I looked over the menu and found a few things I wouldn’t mind trying out. I settled on the chowder and a veggie sandwich. The chowder was excellent, creamy and full of clams and flavor. Great portion size and quite filling. The sandwich was a disappointment. It was described as having fresh avocado, sweet onion, tomato, garlic oil, balsamic vinegar served in a pressed Italian roll. There was very little avocado, maybe two small slices and the sweet onion was scarce as well. I had to ask for more of the balsamic vinegar because I think they forgot to even add it to the bread. I was pretty disappointed. Huge shrug. I am not sure I would get back there anytime soon, but the drinks were worth a trip to hang at the very cool bar.

Excellent servers at the Bootlegger. Everyone from the front desk host to the waiter we had all evening- were super friendly and helpful. Great staff makes a place worth going back to…

Overall, the evening at Bootlegger was a fun night. I’d try some other kinds of food if I go back, and I hope they step up their veggie options. I’d certain say keep the moonshine flowing and keep that delicious chowder!