The sister restaurant to the fantastic Macintosh in Charleston, the Oak Table landed on Main Street a couple of weeks ago and immediately became a twitter sensation in the area, garnering critical acclaim from locals for their American Bistro fare. Just this past week, they added lunch service, allowing this foodie on a budget a taste of the hottest new restaurant in town. I can happily say that, just like the Macintosh in Charleston, the Oak Table is going to be the place to be here in Columbia for what I think will be a very, very long time if this lunch was any indication.
|Warning: This is going to be a bit of a food porn heavy review.|
On the surface, we're talking about some really American stuff going on here. It is American bistro afterall, and looking up and down the list there's no doubt about it. The menu at Oak Table for lunch is fairly lean and mean, with your standard burger, BLT, salad options, and some steak options. There's even a mahi mahi dish. They do not mess around with the genre. What they do different, however, is really punch of the sex appeal of all these classics. The BLT, for example, is slathered in a lemon-garlic aioli, topped with the classic Southern fried green tomato and swabbed with some fresh pimento cheese on brioche. The bacon was reliably great as bacon always is, but the pimento cheese they slather here is what makes all the difference. Really creamy and tangy, with the crisp, chewy brioche and the excellent fried green tomato on top of that, it was a BLT that put all others to shame. There was also a housemade sausage sandwich floating around that looked spectacular, and came with an interesting beet Dijon to set it apart from the norm.
For all the interesting things they do, they don't mess with the classics completely though. The burger, for example (which was perhaps 90% of the lunch hour's orders, I understand Columbia, you love your burgers), is done how you want it and the way it should be, topped with a thick slab of cheddar and some applewood bacon. Take that beast and throw some bistro fries next to it that were cooked in truffled oil. Just straight solid and delicious. (Some people give a bad rap towards truffle oil. That might be true for a lot of things, but as far as fries are concerned, they are extraordinary and perhaps the To really set the Oak Table's lunch towards upscale, there's also the Oak Table Butcher Board sandwich, which this foodie had to order, hands down. Smooth chicken liver with a pork terrine, housemade pickles and pickled red onion with a slather of preserves, this was a real treat and a welcome find in a town where charcuterie is a rarity. Like a classic Vietnamese banh mi, it just had all the wonderful livery taste on top of the terrine, which were extenuated by the pickled cucumber and red onion. I know this may be a little out of bounds for a lot of people, but if you are into this kind of stuff, this is a no-brainer. Served with truffle fries, it was a steal at $9.
Columbia, and Main Street in particular, was sorely in need of a place like the Oak Table. With elegant indoor seating and casual outdoor seating, it brings an upscale atmosphere that's incredibly lacking in our downtown, and the fact they are producing what may be some of the best food in town right now makes it all the more exciting. Bring the party there for dinner, bring yourself there for lunch. You will not be disappointed.