Experience: Oxford Tavern’s New Iteration in Barrington

A former East Providence speakeasy serves Portuguese-fusion fare in a new spot


In its first iteration, Oxford Tavern, affectionately known as OT, was an intimate speakeasy that operated with limited hours, and guests could only find out the menu the day of via a Facebook post – a true IYKYK situation. The East Providence tavern built a loyal clientele over the years while serving up some of the East Bay’s most unique dishes, and allowed patrons to get up close and personal while they watched their food prepared in front of them at the bar. Seating was tight, but chef and owner Alan Manchester was serving up big flavor in his dishes. The move to Barrington has introduced a larger floor plan and an even larger menu, while maintaining a cool and cozy atmosphere.

As we made our way down Maple Avenue to visit the new location, venturing deeper into the sleepy neighborhood, we spotted the warm glow of Oxford Tavern, where it now occupies the old Billy’s location. Inside, the dining room was bustling, and locals filled the bar, enjoying cocktails and college basketball on the TV.

While upholding their tradition of offering an impressive amount of specials, Oxford Tavern has cultivated a permanent menu since their move, which I would lovingly describe as Portuguese-American gastropub fare. With about a dozen craft cocktails to choose from, my partner went with an Oxford Manhattan, and I had the Spicy Pineapple Marg that was complete with a fresh pineapple garnish and a tajin rim.

Right out of the gate, we enjoyed one of the most unique starters I’ve had to date, and I love a creative appetizer – the Fried Spaghetti Sticks are tossed in a spicy seasoning, and served with fresh bread and olive oil. We admittedly went a bit overboard on the apps, trying the Portuguese-Style Egg Rolls, two flavors of wings (the Mozambique and the Thai), and lastly the Hickory Smoked Bacon-Wrapped Scallops, deep fried and bursting at the seams. All of the above were spicy, shimmering, and savory. I also ordered a bowl of the chef’s special soup of the day: a seafood medley chowder that was overflowing with lobster, clams, and baby shrimp, garnished with corn and potato chunks.

For our main course, my boyfriend settled on the Rib-Eye Steak, and much like how his eyes tend to be bigger than his stomach, this steak was bigger than his head – though we’re not the type to complain about too much food! I went with our server’s suggestion, the Pan-Fried Veal Cutlet Parmesan. The veal was cooked to

perfection with a light breading and smothered in a tangy red tomato sauce and cheese.

As you could probably guess, we were too full for dessert, but we got to enjoy some facetime with Manchester, who has been the brains behind the operation since its early days in East Providence. In typical Rhody fashion, we chatted about our mutual connections and six degrees of separation across the state, including my dad, a former customer in EP. While these days Manchester spends more time “behind the curtain,” he has more room to devise great things for Oxford Tavern.


Oxford Tavern

286 Maple Avenue, Barrington


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