WORCESTER – Burgers, beer, and bourbon – lots and lots of bourbon. That is what they are serving up at Oak Barrel Tavern on Grove Street in Worcester.
“Oak Barrel Tavern is a kind of a contemporary rustic tavern,” said owner Jeff Charloff. “We pride ourselves on having a large bourbon and whiskey selection. I’d classify our food as American comfort food. Homemade food that’s good size portions, very good value, in a place where they’re comfortable, where the service is good and they want to come back again and again.”
Jeff has seen a lot of restaurants come and go over the years, so he built the Oak Barrel Tavern with every detail in mind, from the cocktails, to the cuisine, to the eye-catching atmosphere.
“We renovated a hundred year old building, and we wanted a rustic tavern feel and look, so there’s a lot of black steel around the room. The oak here is reclaimed oak from a barn in Maine,” Jeff relayed. “There’s a lot of windows; it’s well-lit. The tables have a rustic look to them. The bar is actually really cool. It’s made from oak barrel staves which are the side of the oak barrel.”
Whether you are sitting by the bar or at a table, you will want to order plenty of food, because it’s all fresh, affordable, and familiar. Starting with appetizers, there are plump Chicken Wings in flavors like Sweet Chili and Honey Garlic; freshly sliced, hand-breaded Onion Rings; toasty Bavarian Soft Pretzel Sticks served with Wisconsin Cheddar and beer sauce for dipping; and the top-selling, totally addictive Buffalo Chicken Dip.
“We make it here from scratch. It’s got a couple different kinds of cheeses in it, big chunks of chicken, big chunks of blue cheese. We bake it, we serve it with pita chips that we cut up and fry. You get a spicy, creamy, delicious bite.”
On the sandwich side of the menu, Oak Barrel Tavern offers a Roast Beef Melt with sweet caramelized onions, creamy horseradish ranch, and melted cheddar. There’s a generous Chicken Cutlet Parmesan loaded up with marinara, mozzarella, with a drizzle of basil pesto on crunchy ciabatta bread. You definitely will not be disappointed if you order the signature Bourbon Barbeque Burger.
“Eight ounce prime burgers for our Barbecue Bourbon Burger. We make our own bourbon barbecue sauce in house. We also cover it with pepper jack cheese, onion strings, and it’s served on a potato roll with your choice of side,” Jeff described.
The boldest flavors and biggest values on the Oak Barrel Tavern menu are the main dishes, like the tender, fire-grilled marinated Steak Tips. The Meatloaf is modern comfort food at its finest. It is grilled and basted in a sweet and spicy Sriracha Bourbon sauce, topped onion strings, and piled on top of a bed of mashed potatoes with green beans on the side. Or, you could always go for the impossibly rich Truffle Mac and Cheese.
“The Mac and Cheese is a five cheese blend that we make,” Jeff explained. “We serve it with either cavatappi or fettucini, a little bit of truffle oil on there, and then you can also mix in Buffalo chicken. Then we top it with breadcrumbs, toast it in the oven for a little bit. It’s creamy, it’s delicious, it’s unbelievable.”
That leaves just one more major decision: what to order for dessert? You could go for a creamy slice of Blueberry Cobbler Cheesecake, or the sticky-sweet Whiskey Caramel Pecan Bundt Cake. But your best bet would have to be the brownie sundae.
“The brownie sundae is a chocolate brownie; it’s actually a gluten-free brownie that we use. We put a huge scoop of ice cream on it, some whipped cream, some chocolate sauce. We serve that brownie warm,” Jeff said. “That is our number one selling dessert and people seem to love it.”
You can find Oak Barrel Tavern at 229 Grove Street in Worcester, and online at oakbarreltavernworcester.com.
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