It’s taken me a while to get there, but finally, finally had the chance to dine at The Oak Table. Touted as one of Columbia’s finer eateries offering classic American culinary traditions with upscale southern flair, its roots have been planted in Downtown Columbia donning a magnificent view of the South Carolina State House. From casual business lunches to a friendly gathering around the bar to a cozy table for dinner, Executive Chef Joseph Jacobson and his team offer up a comfortable, airy atmosphere for those in search of a culinary experience like no other.
Just a short stroll across the plaza at 1221 Main Street and through a heavy oak door, you’re invited into an open, cavernous space dressed in a rustic-chic decor that is a cool visual contrast to its unparalleled plated offerings. Arriving at our appointed reservation time, we were promptly escorted to our table, tastefully set and inviting. We were greeted almost immediately by our waitress. Aside from a few tiny hiccups throughout the evening, the service was impeccable. The staff was attentive but not overbearing. Our waitress was well-versed on the menu, making recommendations and wine pairings, as well as defining ingredients and preparation of the cocktails and dinner choices. From cocktails to dessert, our visit was just shy of two hours. There were parties that were seated and through quicker than us, but we were not in any hurry and enjoyed the pace at which our food was presented. The restaurant was not jam-packed but comfortably full with seemingly satisfied patrons.
Now for the food and drink. Offering a generous wine list with many varietals, I would have liked to have seen more wines by the glass available. The specialty cocktail menu was limited but chock-full of interesting flavor combinations. For a refreshingly crisp summer libation, the Basil Ginger Lemonade will not disappoint. A vodka concoction combining the flavors of fresh basil, lemon and a house-made ginger syrup. The seasonal punch was an amazing sangria. Smooth, not-too-sweet, with hints of fresh fruit. I half expected a flamenco dancer to dance around the corner. In addition, there was a list of over a dozen microbrews and imports.
With your choice of half a dozen small plates, seven entrees and a handful of sides, there was a dish to satisfy every palate. From a $12 burger to a $39 NY strip steak, each dish coveted a classy uniqueness that embraced southern comfort. The bibb salad with its spiced pecans and Geechie Boy crispy cornbread or Niman Ranch short rib carpaccio, thinly sliced and garnished with South Carolina quail egg gribiche is a great start. Follow that with the Carolina Heritage Farms pork chop alongside creamed SC local corn and Rawl Family Farms collard greens or the Tanglewood Farms crispy duck leg that share the plate with City Roots watercress, SC pecans, and Meyer lemon dinner grits that are so light and aromatic. For a meatless choice, you cannot go wrong with the summer cappellini with house-made whipped ricotta. A you-cannot-leave-this-place-without-trying dish (even if it’s for dessert) is the cooked-to-order Oak Table baked mac. A fistful of fresh cavatelli pasta covered in seven – yes I said seven – creamy cheeses and broiled to crunchy, crisp perfection is quite possibly the best I’ve ever had.
Offered up for dessert are an assortment of savory sorbets and ice creams, a gussied-up S’more choice, and our table favorite – the sweet corn panna cotta. Attractively presented and adorned with roasted red pepper compote, candied cornflakes, toasted pine nuts and pretzel crisps for scraping up every last bite.
A little on the pricey side, the portions were adequate and not intimidating. The stellar food quality, presentation and attention to detail certainly sets The Oak Table on a path to quickly become one of the hottest reservations in the city.
Offering weekly specials, such as 3 for $30 and drink specials during Live at the Oak where you can relax on the patio while listening to some great local musicians.
Open for Lunch
Mon – Fri: 11:30 – 2:30 pm
Open for Dinner
Mon through Thurs: 5 – 9 pm
Fri and Sat: 5 – 10 pm
Open for Brunch
Sun: 11:00 – 3 pm
1221 Main Street * 803 563 5066 * http://www.theoaktablesc.com