Oak Haven Table & Bar Restaurant, New Haven, CT
If you are looking for fresh American tapas with a unique twist that are sourced from local New England farms, then pull up a chair at New Haven’s trendy gastro pub Oak Haven Table & Bar Restaurant.
Over the past few years, the “farm-to-table” trend has grown like a weed. Several restaurants are returning to the concept of sourcing the freshest ingredients from local farms and tailoring their menu items based on what is available at peak harvest. Typically, the diner wins at these restaurants that truly embrace the farm-to-table philosophy because they are getting the highest quality and freshest ingredients directly from growers and in most instances the food tastes better.
Oak Haven Table & Bar restaurant is a true farm-to-table restaurant. The kitchen, led by Chef Meg Fama, produces a seasonal menu that supports local farms, microbreweries and distributors whenever possible. It’s a concept she’s familiar and comfortable with given her upbringing and training.
Chef Fama explained that the restaurant’s menu changes daily since it’s driven by what’s available at the local markets. She also cited from which farms each of the menu items we sampled ingredients originated. I found that very cool since I’m a big proponent for eating local. She went on to explain that everything is made in-house, even the juices used in our cocktails.
The menu is divided into sections under the headings of snacks and small, medium and large-sized tapas that are perfect for sharing.
Oak Haven has a good selection of craft cocktails using local spirits. I chose the Market Special cocktail from the “shaken or stirred” section of the cocktail menu. This drink, which changes daily, was a fun combination of vodka and fresh fruits and herbs.
As I enjoyed my cocktail, I noticed the restaurant’s décor, which is a mix of warm wood accents, trendy eclectic furniture and rustic lighting fixtures. Together it works to create a quaint, community feel.
The parade of food began with autumn rolls from the snack section of the menu. This item is similar to what you would think of as spring rolls, but filled with autumn harvest vegetables instead. It came with a sweet plum sauce. The autumn rolls were crisp and crunchy and not at all greasy.
Next we sampled three items from the “small” section of the menu: blue crab, mussels and brussel sprouts.
The crab cakes had a crispy panko-crusted coating and were paired with house made remoulade sauce. Everyone commented on how heavily filled with crab the cakes were, which is not something you see at many restaurants. They were delicious and when I noticed that two remained I scoffed them up to take home!
The steamed mussels were served in a garlicky herbed beer broth, which we mopped up with the house made crusty bread.
The brussel sprouts, which were harvested from Stone Garden Farms in Shelton, CT, were cooked with garlic, shallots and a maple reduction.
Proceeding to the “medium” section of the menu, we sampled the cassoulet and day boat scallops. A cassoulet is a rich, slow-cooked casserole that originated in Southern France. It typically includes beans, meat (pork, duck or lamb), and seasonal vegetables. Chef Fama made our version with sausage that she obtained from Blue Slope Farms in Franklin, CT, local greens and white beans, Parmesan and a wine broth. The combination of flavors was amazing!
The day-boat scallops were from Stonington Seafood in Stonington, CT. They were seared to perfection and served with tarragon cream, bacon bits and market vegetables. I am a huge fan of scallops and enjoyed this dish!
Next we sampled the house-made clams in fra diavolo sauce. The clams were freshly harvested from Rhode Island.
The spicy tomato-based sauce is an Italian-American creation that is typically served with seafood or pasta. We called Chef Fama’s fra diavolo sauce “liquid gold.” We mopped up every last drop with more of the freshly baked crusty bread.
We concluded our tasting at Oak Haven with a beautiful selection of house made desserts.
The assortment included warm chocolate chip and dulce de leche cookies and bread pudding squares.
Additionally, the pastry chef also made us strawberry shortcake squares, using fresh-made preserves from Rose’s berry farm in Glastonbury, CT
It was a wonderful ending to our wonderful tasting at Oak Haven. I am anxious to head back once the warmer weather hits so we can dine outside!
Have you tried Oak Haven Table and Bar Restaurant in New Haven?
Have you eaten at a true farm-to-table restaurant? If so, which?
Disclaimer: While the restaurant’s owners hosted this food blogger dinner at Oak Haven, the opinions and views expressed above are my own and describe my personal experience.