By Tatum McIsaac
The Scarlet Oak Tavern is a place I’ve been dying to try on multiple recommendations by South Shore friends. So when we found ourselves with a kid-free night, it seemed like the perfect opportunity. With its Main Street address in Hingham, I was surprised to find the restaurant located just over the Norwell line, minutes off of Rt. 3. Entirely okay by me, as it kept our drive time to about 20 minutes (a rarity for many South Shore communities).
Scarlet Oak reminds me of its namesake. We have the good fortune of spending summer weekends with family at a residence where the lawns are broad and the century-old oak trees are, well, impressive. So when we walked into the tavern and saw the growing crowds, beautiful décor and ample space to move around, all I could think of was those beloved trees and how fitting a name for a place so expansive, yet comforting at the same time.
The dining room is upscale casual, and accepts reservations. The tavern, where we were lucky enough to score a table, is big but cozy and adorned with cushioned benches for sitting, a roaring fire at the center and eager patrons eye-balling the next “first-come, first-serve” open seat.
Part of the Webber Restaurant Group, Scarlet Oak’s website proclaims they are strong believers in the farm-to-fork movement. They source produce from their own Gibbet Hill Farm in Groton, which I imagine would make their summer menu jam packed with veggie-centered creations. The winter menu held true to the local vibe I was looking for, as items included Scituate lobster, local oysters and goat cheese from Westfield Farm. The steak my husband had wasn’t touted as local, or grass-fed, but he said it was one of the better ones he’s had in a while. And the butternut squash ravioli with swiss chard, lemon and capers that I had as my meal? Fingers-crossed the squash was from their farm, but regardless, it was delicious.
The drink choices Scarlet Oak offers were perfect for us. A nice selection of wines by the glass ranged from $8-$13, and an extensive by-the-bottle selection included lots of names we recognized, with some interesting, higher end options we might save for a special occasion. Scarlet Oak IPA is served on tap, along with a handful of other beers; and my Harvest Sky cocktail of Stoli, apple cider and pomegranate ($10) helped melt away the stress of a long week at work.
It’s safe to say we’ll make a return trip to Scarlet Oak, perhaps for their Sunday brunch (11-2:30pm) or when the weather is warmer and we can sit on the flagstone patio out front. With the tavern as our preferred seating option, I might be hesitant to go there with a large group. I could be persuaded, though, if it means we get to order one of the giant shellfish platters or indulge in one of the tempting desserts. One cranberry white chocolate bread pudding, four spoons, please!
Tatum McIsaac is a south shore resident, self-proclaimed foodie, and mom to two kids who actually like vegetables! She works full time in corporate communications, but loves spending her free time perusing farmers’ markets, scoping out local eateries with her husband, and cooking for her family. In addition to her posts on the eSS&SC blog, you can read her New England restaurant reviews at Good Taste by Tatum.