It's funny how fiercely protective the people of Wyandotte are about their city. As a lifelong resident, it's something this writer can dote upon with a great deal of knowledge. And while its citizens have a ton of civic pride, they're even more proud of each and every drinking establishment found within city limits.
The Oak Cafe is one of those bars. Far flung from the city's quaint downtown, it's located on a neighborhood corner across from a small grocery store, a photography studio, and a meat market. In every direction streets lined with single family homes; there's an elementary school not too far away.
Inside the place is about as "neighborhood bar" as it gets. The decor is made up entirely of beer signs and other industry swag. For as long as we can remember an inflatable boat bearing the name "Labatt" has hung from the ceiling. There are a few large flat-screen TVs, but not enough to make you feel like you're in an obnoxious sports bar. In all honestly this place is the antithesis of an obnoxious sports bar.
"The Oak" is an innocuous enough name. It doesn't really give anything away about what's inside. But, ask the locals and they're likely to hammer on about the place's excellent craft beer selection and they'll probably have a story or two about a drunken night spent inside the brick building.
Craft beer is the Oak's thing. A green placard on the side of the building declares it serves 225 bottled beers and has 40 taps. Inside, a wall lists the brews that are currently on tap and Michigan breweries are represented beautifully here. Bell's, Dark Horse, Founders, Griffin Claw, B. Nektar, Atwater, and Cheboygan Brewing Co. all have brews on the board.
Our favorite thing about the Oak (other than a fantastic jukebox) is that they have a knowledgeable staff. On a recent visit we needed to only tell our server we were in the mood for something on the thicker side and he quickly advised we try a draft of Founders Nitro Rubaeus raspberry ale. The brew was creamy, rich, and complex — just what we were looking for. We also appreciated his candor about another beer we were asking after, letting us know it probably wasn't the one for us.
As unpretentious as it gets, you can unabashedly order a Miller Lite, a Labatt Blue, or a Budweiser here. They've got Bass Ale, Killian's, and Bud Light on draft, and some signs over the bar declare a number of fruity shots with names like Ninja Turtle and Electric Lemonade are available. No doubt Pucker is an ingredient in most of them.
Stop by the Oak on a Friday night and you'll find the place is packed. One of its small, four-top tables will be hard to come by and the larger ones, accommodating bigger parties, will be even more difficult to snag. It'll be loud, but the atmosphere is always friendly. The place is packed, but no one is rude. There's no dance floor, there's no live music. In all honesty, this place is perfect.