Oak Barrel has been on my must check out lists for a while now. It was initially put on there thanks to a recommendation from my sister who had gone there before a wedding and raved about the drinks. Being a whiskey enthusiast myself, I just had to check it out.
Oak Barrel Public House is located at 1033 N. Old World Third St. and is smacked between some third street staple restaurants and bars.
It was opened by Bobby Wiltgen, and is just one of three restaurants operated by him: the other two being Who’s On Third and Cantina. It is one of their newer establishments that opened in 2018.
Just a few steps through the door showed an atmosphere that paired well with its name, and everywhere my eye went was met with wood.
What makes the overflow of the wood work together in harmony is that each wood has its own texture, and there was a variable of smooth and natural-looking pieces intermixed.
Pairing the wood with the Milwaukee famous cream brick really brought the whole place together.
I was surprised by the overall size of the place and one word comes to mind: immense.
There is ample seating at the bar, as well as an abundant amount of high top tables and booths. They have an upstairs as well, which means the overall place can pack in large groups and the upstairs alone can fit 150 people.
I was sat at a hightop near the bar area, which gave me a view of TVs that were playing the college football games.
Between the physical appearance, the savory smells and the paper menus I got a very southern, American comfort vibe. It reminded me of being in a place I would find in Nashville with a bit of New Orleans mixed in.
I figured the music here would be country since it has such a southern influence but to my pleasant surprise, it was more of an alternative vibe and the stereo played hits from bands such as Foster the People, Young the Giant, Killers, and more!
As I mentioned the drinks were one of the prime reasons I wanted to check this spot out.
They offer craft cocktails at a reasonable price that range from $9.50 to $11.00, as well as beer cocktails and pours from different whiskey and scotch brands. A single pour will run you anywhere from $5.00 to $22.00 and Long pours will range from $8.00 to $35.
If you really want a full drinking experience from this establishment I suggest you take advantage of their whiskey flights which are four 1 oz pours of your whiskey of choice.
They have quite an extensive list of beer and wine that is available for those not big on whiskey.
I got the Tequila Rick which is Sauza cucumber chili tequila, triple sec, agave nectar, and muddled lime.
I was a little bit disappointed there was no salt or seasoning of any kind on the rim, but overall the drink was good.
My significant other got the barrel-aged old fashioned, and he instantly had a grin on his face after his first sip. The aging of the bourbon in the barrel gives the old fashioned a unique and one of a kind taste; in hindsight, I should have gotten that.
They offer nightly drink specials, lunch specials and happy hour pricing that is something you should be on the lookout for so you can try multiple drinks, becuase they all really do sound amazing.
Typically, I eat vegan, but when I’m trying out new restaurants, I like to dive in and experience all the glory with no limits. I planned my cheat day for the month around coming here, so I didn’t have to limit myself.
With that being said, I thought it was super cool that they do offer options for Vegans, and they have impossible meat.
This means I don’t have to just come to Oak Barrel on my cheat day, but I can enjoy the food here on my regular diet, which is hard to find living in the land of meat and cheese.
I like that they offer vegan options all throughout the menu, and they don’t just have one plant-based burger and call it a day like so many restaurants around here do. Fellow vegans, you can find appetizers, tacos, and even sandwiches here that will fit into your lifestyle.
Let us move forward and talk about my meal for the night, which is going to contradict everything I have just said pertaining to my diet. What can I say, I am a Millenial after all.
For our appetizer, we decided to opt for tacos since you get two of them, and they run you the same price as their standard appetizers.
Since Oak Barrel is a southern comfort type of place, we had to try the Nashville Hot Chicken.
You get two of them in an order and it is homestyle breaded chicken tossed in their Nashville hot seasoning, house slaw, cilantro crema, and cilantro leaves.
This was the best item of the night and I would highly recommend trying this out.
As with all of their tacos you can get them made in standard tacos form or as bowls.
For my main I got the shrimp po boy made with Old Bay dusted corkscrew shrimp, lettuce, roasted red peppers, harissa aioli on a Sciortino’s Italian roll.
The portion size for the po boy was huge and can easily be enough for your main meal and a midnight snack later.
The roasted red peppers on top really sealed the deal for this sandwich.
For those who haven’t experienced Old Bay seasoning, it has a strong salt-like taste and that is what makes it so yummy, but may also make it be a bit much for newbies.
It might taste over-salted to you but upon further chewing, you will realize it isn’t just a salt taste but the classic Old Bay dusting used in famous southern foods. It is something you taste once and crave forever so when you see a menu item made with it, you will want to jump on it.
For my side, I got sweet potatoes fries and they were on the thinner side which made them extra crunchy. I got the ranch for an extra 50 cents but I would say skip it because you don’t need it.
If I were playing the game shoot, marry, kiss this would be the one I would shoot…if you get what I’m saying.
The man got what is pictured to the left, the Italian beef sandwich which is made with slow-roasted Italian beef, fresh mozzarella, pickled red onion, giardiniera relish, served with a side of au jus on a Sciortino’s Italian roll.
They completely forgot the giardiniera relish, which may just be one of the favored things on an Italian beef sandwich, but in reality, I’m not sure if that would have saved this one. We went after an intense Packer game, and the cook may have still been trying to get his bearings back together when he made this bad boy.
Won’t hold it against the place though because everything else was top-notch and I have confidence in this place to come back and even order this exact same menu item!
For his side, he opted for the regular fries, and they were just as delightful as the sweet potato ones.
Next time we go we already know we will be ordering the cheese curds. We saw a few people order them and they looked golden delicious and came in giant portion size.
They offer a free shuttle bus to the brewers game, which would be an excellent option for those who want something different from the standard bar food fare/shuttle option. If you have friends from out of town and want to wow them, I suggest coming here for some drinks and grub and then taking them on a shuttle to the game.
This would also be an ideal spot for those looking to grab food around a Bucks game at the Fiserv Form.
On Friday and Saturdays, they offer live music starting at 10 pm.
Hours: Monday-Thursday 11am-2am, Friday 11am-2:30am, Saturday 10am-2:30am, Sunday 10am-2am
Website: Oak Barrel Public House
It’s not bar food at Oak Barrel, but southern comfort cuisine.