Atlanta Orders In: Family values on the menu at Big Oak Tavern in Roswell

This Big Oak Tavern family meal includes baby back ribs, coleslaw, macaroni and cheese, green beans and dinner rolls. Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
This Big Oak Tavern family meal includes baby back ribs, coleslaw, macaroni and cheese, green beans and dinner rolls. Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Bob Townsend

Credit: Bob Townsend

Chef-owner Nate Armstrong opened Big Oak Tavern last February, “with the vision to offer great classic American cuisine in Roswell.”

Armstrong grew up in South Carolina, and graduated from Johnson & Wales University in Charleston, before becoming the executive chef at Stoney River Steakhouse in Roswell, and later the general manager.

More recently, he worked as an account manager for Sysco Food Services. And, as it happened, the owner of one of Armstrong’s accounts, the Grub Gastropub, was looking for someone to take over the restaurant.

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Big Oak Tavern offers a shaved Brussels sprouts salad. Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Big Oak Tavern offers a shaved Brussels sprouts salad. Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Bob Townsend

Credit: Bob Townsend

“We ended up partnering together, and I created the concept for Big Oak Tavern,” Armstrong said. “I wanted to come up with a name that would not only fit the Roswell area, but really stand out. And, of course, there’s a 100-year-old oak tree out front on Alpharetta Street, so you can’t miss it.”

Armstrong said the big oak tree has been an inspiration for his budding business, especially after the pandemic closed his restaurant a month after it opened.

“We wanted the oak tree to represent what we stand for here at Big Oak Tavern,” he said. “We want to plant our roots here, so, every day, we have a commitment of asking what we can do for the community.”

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Big Oak Tavern’s family meals serve three to four people, and come with an entree, three sides, tea, dinner rolls and a chocolate skillet brownie (pictured). Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Big Oak Tavern’s family meals serve three to four people, and come with an entree, three sides, tea, dinner rolls and a chocolate skillet brownie (pictured). Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Bob Townsend

Credit: Bob Townsend

Since last year, Big Oak has been providing meals for underprivileged school children, families and frontline workers. And, recently, Armstrong launched a program called Hero Meals that provides a way for the community to purchase gift cards to feed nurses, doctors and first responders.

“Especially with COVID numbers spiking now, I’m sure there are times when nurses and doctors don’t even have time to sit down to eat or even order a meal,” Armstrong said.

As for the regular menu, it’s available for dine-in, takeout, curbside pickup or delivery. And, there are multiple outdoor dining options, too, including a front patio and two decks.

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The cuisine, which Armstrong calls American classic, ranges from soups and salads to burgers, steaks, seafood and very reasonably priced family meals for takeout only.

Having spent more than nine years at a steakhouse, Armstrong said he wanted to create a great steak at an affordable price, “and I think we hit that with our filet and our rib-eye. But, we wanted to have something for everyone, so we have vegan and vegetarian and pescatarian and gluten-free options.”

Big Oak does lunch and dinner, and brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. Two days a week, Armstrong goes back to his South Carolina roots with Soul Food Sundays and Mondays, featuring catfish, smoked chopped pork and fried chicken meals, priced at $20.

“It’s my mom’s macaroni and cheese recipe, collard greens, sweet potato casserole, peach cobbler, smoked turkey wings,” he said.

Armstrong said the first year has been rough, but he is hopeful about better days ahead, with the support of the Roswell community.

“We’ve come so far in such a short time,” he said. “That first day we shut down in March, and could only do takeout, we did $27 in a 12-hour shift. We’d only been open about six weeks, so we have didn’t have the support of the community yet.”

During that dark period, Armstrong created his family meals, which feed three to four people, and include entrees, three sides, iced tea, dinner rolls and a large skillet brownie for dessert.

Surprisingly, the choices are four rib-eye steaks, four salmon fillets, a whole smoked or fried chicken, or two racks of baby back ribs, all priced at $35-$45.

“I started looking at some family meals, and they were like $150 for a family of four, and it was basic food,” Armstrong said. “Our most expensive is four 8-ounce rib-eyes with everything. You would spend more going to the grocery store.”

BIG OAK TAVERN

Menu: classic American

Alcohol: beer, wine and cocktails

What I ordered: shaved Brussels sprouts salad; family meal with baby back ribs, coleslaw, macaroni and cheese, green beans, dinner rolls and a skillet brownie. Everything traveled really well, was easy to reheat in aluminum pans, and generally tasted like the best kind of home cooking.

Service options: indoor, outdoor, takeout, curbside, delivery; call or go online for takeout or delivery

Outdoor dining: patio, and upstairs and downstairs decks

Mask policy: employees wear masks; customers encouraged to wear masks when not seated

Address, phone: 1090 Alpharetta St., Roswell; 678-336-9205

Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 11 a.m-10 p.m, Fridays, 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturdays, 10:30 a.m.- 9 p.m. Sundays

Website: bigoaktavern.com

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