After a month spent in Portland I was finally back in Miami and it felt nice to be home (even though Portland is still also home of course). One of my first chances to try someplace new was my friend/co-worker’s birthday when we went for a team lunch. I had printed out a few places that were doing Miami Spice lunch around the office as some options she might be interested in picking. We were a bit unsure if we had enough time before a meeting (only had about an hour) but we decided to push it and visit Oak Tavern. It had been high on this friend’s list since it opened. The menu definitely looked good, although the gluten-free options (that didn’t involve seafood at least) looked limited, which is why I hadn’t been despite its proximity.
Oak Tavern is in a brick building situated on one of the main strips in the Design District. You enter under an arch into the restaurant’s courtyard that fronts the inside. The brick arch makes it a bit intriguing when you walk by and you then enter the open courtyard filled with little tables under umbrellas and a tree in the middle. It was a bit gray and rainy of a day though so we sat inside.
For those not from Miami or not aware of Miami Spice it’s during August and September when a lot of the city’s top restaurants offer discounted 3-course meals for lunch and/or dinner. The one reason I haven’t explored it much myself is that I can’t always find gluten-free options for the appetizer, entree, and dessert. The dessert is always tough, but sometimes it’s even difficult to find gluten-free options for just the appetizer and entree.
At least one of my friends did get the Miami Spice special. It’s a bit hard to remember since a lot of people ordered soups or apps al a carte. Two people got the gazpacho, two got the chowder, and then there was an order of the bacon marmalade toast. All were available on the Miami Spice menu I believe. Those who got the gazpacho really liked it, but the chowder got a little bit less raves. I think people were expecting more of a creamy, heavy chowder and instead it was more a light soup. The bacon marmalade toast got 10 thumbs up from the five people who could eat it. It’s bacon marmalade on top of blue cheese on little pieces of toast and some people were pretty obsessed with it afterwards. Our meal also came with a basket of homemade biscuits and bacon butter. That basket and the little bowls of the butter were definitely scraped clean early on in the meal and along with the bacon marmalade toast were the top favorites (one friend may have even been a bit territorial about one of the things of butter haha).
Unfortunately given our meeting we were pushing it in terms of time. We were able to push back our meeting about fifteen minutes, but that still wasn’t enough time. I do think we didn’t give ourselves enough time from the start and were a good sized group (of 6), but after 45 minutes we still hadn’t received our entrees. I don’t think we would have had enough time to eat and be all finished, but I would have expected us to have our food more quickly than that. The restaurant only had a couple other groups of diners. At the 45 minute mark the food was about to come out but we had to get the food to go to make the meeting, which unfortunately dampened the experience a bit.
For lunch I had ordered the steak frites with truffle butter, arugula, and fries (al a carte not part of Miami Spice). Most of the others all got some kind of pizza whether spinach (as part of Miami Spice or al a carte) or the duck pizza (not part of Miami Spice). For my steak I had to wait through that meeting before eating it, but I really liked it. The fries were pretty crispy but not overdone. The steak was juicy and tender and I would certainly get it again. The arugula came in a vinaigrette and I surprisingly really loved it (for this meat and potatoes kind of guy). The pizzas got mixed reviews. The spinach pizzas people liked, but the duck pizza one friend was disappointed by. I think everything though might need a second look given we had to get it to go and wait to eat until after our meeting. I definitely enjoyed my steak and fries however.
The nice think about a lot of the Design District restaurants is that they have cool spaces and Oak Tavern is certainly one of them with their courtyard. They have a decent variety of appetizers, meats, seafood, and pizzas, but for gluten-frees a bit on the limited side. If you’re a fan of steaks and seafood gluten-frees can find a number of things to have. Our party really liked some stuff and not so much others. On first review Oak Tavern seems like a place to find some top favorites that they do well. I do think it’s definitely worth people’s time to find those favorites though!
Oak Tavern- 35 NE 40th St Miami, FL