BiteClub, Brewpub, Kids, Where to Eat Now, Windsor

The Grocery Tavern? Oliver’s Tavern Off The Green

Grab a gallon of milk, a loaf of bread and a pint at Oliver's Tavern Off the Green

Having a tavern in a grocery store is a bad idea, said no one ever.

Whether you call it Saturday Afternoon Spouse Parking or just spot to grab a cold one before grabbing a gallon of milk, Oliver’s Tavern Off the Green (located just off the Windsor Town Green, natch) makes grocery shopping a whole lot more fun.

The new pub is a casual gathering spot with local beers on tap and an affordable tavern-style menu right inside the store. This restaurant-in-a-store concept also allows patrons to eat anything from the grocery store at the tavern, functioning as a stand-alone spot for lunch meet-ups, happy hour and after school hummus plates, with plenty of tables and bar seating. There’s also a refrigerated case with cold bottles of beer, wine and soda.

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Hummus and veggies at Oliver's Market in Windsor. Heather Irwin (PD)
Hummus and veggies at Oliver’s Market in Windsor. Heather Irwin (PD)

Overseen by the market’s executive chefs Nick Zielke and Mark Kowalkowski , the menu is simple, but smart. Snacks include spicy salty nuts in maple syrup with cayenne and rosemary ($4.99 and totally addictive), along with pickled baby vegetables ($5.99) and a hummus plate with naan and veggies straight from the produce department. The local cheeseboard ($14.99) is one of the best (and most generous) we’ve seen, with Valley Ford Estero Gold Reserve, Cowgirl Creamery Red Hawk, Pug’s Leap Samson goat cheese and Bleating Heart Moolicious cheeses, gourmet crackers, honey and membrillo. Like it? The cheese department headed up by the fabulous Madame Fromage is steps away should you want to share a little Red Hawk with your sweetie later on.

Lagunitas chili at Oliver's markt in Windsor. Heather Irwin (PD)
Lagunitas chili at Oliver’s markt in Windsor. Heather Irwin (PD)

We also tried the Lagunitas Pork Chili ($9.99) with big chungs of Lagunitas braised pork, hominy, chipotle and pablano peppers. Served wtih sweet cornbread and cilantro lime butter it’s a hearty lunch or dinner. Korean beef street tacos ($9.99) are filled with marinated flank steak, Korean-style slaw and red chili sauce. Of course there’s comforting tomato soup with grilled Valley Ford Hwy. 1 Fontina cheese ($11.99) and spicy mac and cheese with bacon ($8.99). The tavern also serves gelato and lemon tarts, but if you’re in need of a sugar rush, the bakery also happens to be mere steps away so a lunch of cupcakes, macarons and bubbly is perfectly acceptable as well.

Cheese plate at Oliver's Market in Windsor. Heather Irwin (PD)
Cheese plate at Oliver’s Market in Windsor. Heather Irwin (PD)

Oliver’s doesn’t have the market cornered on pubs within stores, with Whole Foods and Lisa Hemenway’s now-shuttered restaurant/market, pioneering the idea locally.

Pickled veggies at Oliver's Market in Windsor. Heather Irwin (PD)
Pickled veggies at Oliver’s Market in Windsor. Heather Irwin (PD)

Oliver’s CEO Tom Scott says he loved the concept, but wanted to personalize the tavern for Windsor to be larger, with an external entrance and kid-friendly atmosphere. “It’s a gathering place, I want it to feel friendly,” he said, hoping to appeal to the after work, after school, happy hour crowd. That, and the “I need a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread” crowd needing a little reward — sudsy or otherwise — for an errand accomplished.

Seasoned nuts at Oliver's Market in Windsor. Heather Irwin (PD)
Seasoned nuts at Oliver’s Market in Windsor. Heather Irwin (PD)

Oliver’s Tavern Off the Green, Bell Village, 9230 Old redwood Hwy., Windsor.

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Comments

10 thoughts on “The Grocery Tavern? Oliver’s Tavern Off The Green

  1. Love what Oliver’s has added (Tavern off the Green). What a great addition to this area. Europe has been doing this forever (especially Germany who not only had taverns in food stores but also in large department stores adjacent to their wonderful selection of foods). About time people get to enjoy this age-old concept close to home.

  2. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the food at Oliver’s! Not only is it amazing, but the associated creative people are fabulous as well.
    Highly recommend-any of the Oliver’s markets

  3. Do we know if any of the meats at the tavern are local, pasture raised, humane, etc? Or is it all CAFO meats? Thanks for all you do, Heather!

    1. Yeah, but LH was so much different. There were no $2 beers, for starters. It had about the same volume of grocery items as a convenience store. You couldn’t do your weekly shopping there, or even your daily shopping; you could only fill a few holes. Prices were high, and it was in “destination” location, rather than a central traffic area. It was doomed from the get go.

      1. Agree on the “doomed” part. Bad location, bad economy. If she opened it today close to downtown Santa Rosa it would be a hit. No, you didn’t go there to pick up a six-pack of PBR and Cheerios, but the grocery selection was solid, like a scaled down Traverso’s. People walked out with grocery bags filled with sushi and vac sealed meals, just as Oliver’s offers (and at about the same price) but also the high quality groceries. Put another way: If you wanted a bottle of really good balsamic, a can of tomato paste that tasted fresh or a pizza dough made with the perfect flour, you knew you wouldn’t be disappointed. You paid a little more, but you were also paying for that trust.

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