Owners of Taste tapas bar open The Oak in Raleigh

The owners of Taste, a tapas and wine bar on Medlin Drive, quietly opened The Oak last week in Raleigh’s Marketplace at Lake Boone complex. To mark the opening of their second restaurant, just a stone’s throw from the first on the other side of the Beltline, the partners are now calling themselves Beltline Hospitality Group.

They’ve given the former 618 Bistro space a thorough makeover, transforming it into a colorful contemporary space with a much more relaxed vibe. Fans of Taste will recognize the planter boxes on the new restaurant’s patio, which were taken from the old one.

Chef Ruben Concha hopes to harvest herbs from those planters for his menu, which he’s billing as “next generation tavern” fare. On the plate, that translates to an eclectic mix of traditional and contemporary fare covering the spectrum from burger to pistachio-crusted tuna.

Unlike Taste, The Oak’s “plate” is not limited to a single tapas size offering, but includes both appetizer (“Morsels”) and entree (“Din Din”) portions. Of course, nothing’s stopping you from tapas-style sharing of an orange and artichoke salad or sautéed mushrooms with fresh herbs and toasted baguette crostini. Or, if you prefer, ordering those Morsels as preludes to a Din Din of, say, scallop risotto or a wet steak burrito.

Either way, you’ll have a well-chosen assortment of drinks to pair with your meal. That includes a rotating selection of six draft beers and 24 wines, all available by the bottle or glass. The “cellar” (part of which, quaintly, is a repurposed Coke machine) is loaded with uncommon wines from small wineries, according to general manager Hali Haught, a trait that The Oak shares with its sibling establishment.

As a bonus, the new restaurant raises the ante with a full bar specializing in bourbons, including a house-infused vanilla bourbon that Haught says makes an excellent Manhattan.

The Oak (4035 Lake Boone Trail; 919 787-9100; is open Monday-Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday-Saturday from 11 a.m. until midnight.

Greg Cox, the longtime N&O restaurant critic, also covers restaurant news. Tune in to hear his radio show at 11 a.m. Saturdays on WPTF. Reach him at