Yummy Places

Take 2 = Eat Lunch Out & Give Back

We all deserve a second chance in life. That’s the theme of Take 2: A Resonance Café — a
great place to eat and support a local nonprofit while you’re at it. Take 2 at 309 S. Main St. provides tasty meals and a positive, educational environment where women recently released from prison can learn valuable skills.

When I visited Take 2 recently, I was surprised to see how bustling it was. On a Friday afternoon, it was filled with plenty of the downtown Tulsa workforce looking for a tasty lunch. The restaurant is resplendent with colorful murals on the walls and bright furniture. It’s not a place where you would expect to find ex-felons.

Everyone who works there is so nice — from Tom Butcher, chef, manager, and former Impressions owner, to the ladies who fix the food and ring up your total. Take 2 is actually very similar to the former Impressions, so if you ever went there, you’ll feel right at home.

I had a half order of the Prime Rib Au Jus, along with a big slice of Banana Pie (it’s half price on Fridays after 1:00!). The sandwich was delectable — tender meat served with hot au jus sauce — perfect for a chilly day. The slice of banana pie was huge and had actual slices of banana in it! In the future, I’ll share it with someone instead of inhaling it all on my own.

I was delighted that Debbie Gordon, Development Director for Resonance, was able to join me for lunch and share more of the Take 2 story with me. Debbie chose the Stew for her lunch and said it’s one of her favorite menu items.

Debbie told me that the sandwiches are a big hit at Take 2, and it’s clear to see why. The meat is fresh-sliced, and options abound: Prime Rib or Sirloin Au Jus, Roast Beef or Turkey Club, Corned Beef, and Pastrami, to name a few. Tom brought his favorite sandwich from Impressions to Take 2, also: the Stacked Deck (roast beef, ham, turkey pastrami, salami, swiss, cheddar). Cold sandwiches include Chicken Salad, tuna, and avocado.

Other items available to order include soups, prepared Chefs Salads and Caesar Salads, and baked potatoes. They also have a number of mouth-watering sides: tabouli, potato salad, shrimp macaroni, cottage cheese, and cole slaw. They also have a fully-stocked salad bar.

As patrons of the restaurant, you aren’t just purchasing food, you are purchasing a better future for someone’s mom, wife, daughter, sister or granddaughter. I had a chance to hear more about the program as I ate with Debbie. The women who are employed at Take 2 have already gone through one of the Resonance programs at Eddie Warrior or Turley Correctional Centers. It can be very difficult for a person coming out of prison to find employment, so Take 2 is a perfect opportunity for these women to prove themselves and find gainful employment.

“If a woman coming out of prison can get a job and a place to stay within 30 days, she can survive,” Debbie told me.

Debbie also showed me the loft above the restaurant where the women who work at the restaurant are able to live. It’s a perfect pair — easy access to work. Pretty amazing that Resonance has come up with an automatic job + housing environment for some of its graduates.

Most of Take 2’s traffic is walk-in customers who work in nearby downtown buildings. It really is the perfect spot for lunch if you work anywhere near central downtown Tulsa.

Take 2 is open 10:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Monday-Friday. They also do catering orders (boxed lunches and sandwich trays) as well as takeout orders. The number to call for catering/takeout orders is 918-861-4555.

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Yummy Places

Bramble: Where Breakfast is the Most Important Meal of the Day

IMG_4413I love breakfast food. Being nearly six months pregnant, I crave breakfast food all the time now. Biscuits and gravy. Pancakes. French toast. Bacon. Bacon. Bacon. Bacon. (Can you tell there’s a little man growing inside of me, with all these bacon cravings?!)

I’ve been to The Bramble Breakfast and Bar twice now, and it has quickly become my favorite breakfast spot. The Bramble Breakfast & Bar is a short order, farm to table concept. Some of the local farms and businesses that Bramble gets its items from include Living Kitchen Farm & Dairy, Middle Mountain Dairy, Fair Fellow Coffee, JB Pratt, and Golden Rules Meats. You can taste the freshness in the food, folks. It’s remarkable.

Bramble, whose sister restaurant is Tallgrass Prairie Table, is located downtown at 311 East 2nd Street in the Blue Dome District. One of the great things about Bramble is that you can order breakfast both at breakfast time and lunch time. They do have lunch items on the menu like a IMG_4411Smash Burger and Openfaced Ham Melt, but I’ve only tried the breakfast items there. So that’s what I’ll be sharing about!

On my first visit to Bramble, I tried the French Toast, which is honestly the best French Toast I’ve ever had in my life. They must include sour cream in the dipping mix, because it’s extra smooth and creamy. It’s served with eggs and bacon. Bacon. Folks, this is some thick-cut, dadgum good bacon. You will be impressed.

On my most recent visit to Bramble, I had the Biscuits and Gravy — housemade sausage gravy IMG_4412served on griddle biscuits, and of course, I also had to order a side of that bacon. Folks, this meal did not disappoint. We Oklahomans know how to do Biscuits and Gravy, and Bramble is truly Oklahoman. The gravy was super smooth and had just the right amount of pepper and flavor. The biscuits were oh-so-perfect and I could have sworn I detected a hint of cheddar. And again, the bacon. It satisfied yet again.

My friend tried the Double Cheddar Omelette (below). With any of the egg dishes, you get a choice of toast, duck fat home fries, or hash brown latke. She opted for the hash brown latke, which is sort of like a potato pancake and served with a scoop of apple sauce. I tried her latke, and it was delicious. She raved about how fresh-tasting the omelette was.

IMG_4410Bramble also has a full Drink Menu, which I’ll have to investigate after the baby comes. The Sunny Side sounds especially delicious — bacon bourbon, egg, maple, and bauchant. Talk about a breakfast cocktail!

Everything I’ve tried at Bramble has been remarkable, and the atmosphere is equally applaudable. It’s relaxing yet trendy at the same time. The service is good, but the food does take a little time to prepare, since everything is made from scratch.

I highly recommend Bramble for your next breakfast experience!

Yummy Places

5 Tulsa Places to Take Your Valentine

ok aquarium
Photo courtesy OKAquarium.org

All right, lovebirds…it’s February. That means it’s time to start making plans for Valentines if you haven’t already… like, PRONTO! Go ahead and call the restaurant, make the reservation, and figure out what gift(s) you will give so that you’re not visiting a roadside vendor on the 14th to buy a giant gorilla holding a heart. In the mean time, here are a few ideas of places you can take your Valentine that will knock him/her off his/her feet!

5 Places to Take Your Valentine:

  1. Oklahoma Aquarium for “Hugs and Fishes.”
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Photo courtesy OKAquarium.org

This night “under the sea” is sure to be the ultimate memorable Valentine’s experience! If you really want to wow your date, why not arrange to have a delicious three-course meal in the shark tunnel of the Oklahoma Aquarium? Or, if sharks are a little too scary for you and your sweetie, you can choose to dine in other parts of the Aquarium.

Oklahoma Aquarium at 300 Aquarium Drive in Jenks is offering this special dining experience both Feb. 13 and 14, and prices range from $175 to $250 per couple. The three-course meal will include a Strawberry Spinach Salad, Chicken Breast with White Wine Sauce and Garlic Rosemary Encrusted inside Round of Beef, and multiple desserts, including Chocolate Fondue and Mousse Shooters. Yum!

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Photo courtesy OKAquarium.org

Of course, while you’re at the Aquarium, you can tour all of the exhibits, and the evening will also feature behind-the-scenes tours of the sea turtles and sharks. Sounds like an evening to remember! If you two aren’t hearing Sebastian the Lobster serenading you to “Kiss the Girl” by the end of the evening, then you get your money back! (my words, not the Aquarium’s):) For all of the details on Hugs and Fishes, visit http://www.okaquarium.org/hugs-and-fishes/

2. The Celebrity Restaurant

IMG_3684The Celebrity Restaurant is a classic mainstay in Tulsa fine dining, and the crushed red velvet seating, low lighting, and ornate paintings just seem to beckon Valentines guests. Many Tulsans remember the days when Celebrity Restaurant was a private club — when it was first opened in 1963, selling liquor-by-the-drink was illegal. Due to the stringent liquor laws, Celebrity Club was originally a private club where members could bring their own bottled spirits. The club remained private until 1984 when liquor-by-the-drink was legalized.

During our recent visit, my husband and I enjoyed a truly exquisite meal. It began with shrimp cocktail – plump shrimp served with a zesty cocktail sauce. When our server asked if we were interested in trying the Caesar IMG_3687salad, we didn’t hesitate to say yes. We learned from our server that The World Class Caesar Salad is Celebrity Restaurant’s specialty. Servers even assemble the superstar salad beside your table and explain each step of its creation. The end result is a flavorful, slightly spicy, delicious concoction. My husband, who is not much of a salad fan, remarked that it was the best salad he’s ever had. The salad is $6 per person when served with your meal.

For the main course, I enjoyed the 8-ounce filet mignon accompanied by Parmesan new potatoes, corn on the cob and a dinner roll. The potatoes were my favorite – buttery, cheesy and cooked to perfection! My husband selected the New Zealand white fish, sautéed in butter and also served with Parmesan new potatoes, corn on the cob and a dinner roll. The fish was light and flavorful.

IMG_3686Somehow, we managed to save room for dessert. Our server shared the dessert menu with us, but also told us about a dessert that isn’t listed on the menu: their house dessert. It’s made with vanilla ice cream blended with a bit of brandy and cocoa. It’s served in glasses with straws and was the perfect, refreshing cap to our meal. Other items on the menu that sounded tantalizing were the skillet fried chicken, beef kabob, lobster tail and grilled salmon.

If you’re looking for fine dining in a romantic, classic atmosphere this Valentine’s, try the Celebrity Restaurant at 3109 S. Yale Ave.

3. Villa Ravennaphoto (4)

When many people think of a romantic restaurant, they picture an Italian restaurant with dim lighting, candles on the tables, and crisply-dressed waiters. This is exactly what you’ll find at Villa Ravenna, Tulsa’s most authentic Italian food destination. This elegant restaurant nestled in the back of the Farm Shopping Center at 51st and Sheridan is a recent newcomer to the Tulsa Italian food scene, but it’s arguably the most authentic Italian food option in northeast Oklahoma. The restaurant is owned by two brothers from the Ravenna area of Italy, known for its wonderful food, mosaics and beautiful panoramas.

photo (2)My husband and I went there for a recent anniversary and were not disappointed. We started the evening with Limoncello drinks, a liqueur made from the zest of Italian lemons. For the appetizer, we tried the Zucchini Gorgonzolla. I’m not a huge fan of zucchini normally, but the cheese spread made it absolutely irresistible!

For the entree, I would recommend trying something unique — like veal, photo (5)venison, or boar. Not every Italian restaurant offers these unique meats, and Villa Ravenna does them very well. I stuck with old-fashioned pasta, trying the Ravioli Bolognese. It was meaty, robust, and flavorful.

While you likely won’t have much room for a dessert, I highly suggest you save room for at least a couple bites of a Villa Ravenna cannoli — they are the best in town! Villa Ravenna is sure to make your Valentine’s Day special, if it wins out as your restaurant of choice!

Prhyme-20
Photo courtesy PrhymeTulsa.com

4. Prhyme Downtown Steakhouse

Prhyme is relatively new to the Tulsa steakhouse scene.  With an enviable location in the Brady Arts District at 111 N. Main St., Prhyme is a great choice if you and your Valentine plan on doing something downtown before or after dinner. Created by Justin Thompson, the same entrepreneur who brought Tulsa Juniper and Tavolo, Prhyme is a truly elegant dining experience. Steaks, ranging from prime tenderloin, NY strip, to Australian lamb chops, are the specialty at Prhyme. Their menu also features a wide array of seafood, including King Salmon, Coldwater Lobster Pasta, and Brown Butter Pasta.

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Photo courtesy PrhymeTulsa.com

Prhyme is also featuring a prix fixe Valentine’s menu Feb. 12-14. Call them at 918-794-7700 for details and to make reservations.

My husband and I visited Prhyme about a year ago and were truly impressed by the flavorful steaks. As a starter, we tried the Fire Roasted Corn and Crab Bisque, which is a must-try! Spicy and filling, this is no ordinary crab bisque! We were also impressed by their unique side dishes, like the Garlic Smashed Red Potatoes and the Bacon Butter Brussels Sprouts.

With a classy atmosphere, excellent service, and exquisite menu options, Prhyme is a great choice for your Valentine’s dinner.

IMG_26565. Tavolo

Some may say it’s just not fair for me to feature two of Justin Thompson’s restaurants in one blog post, but the truth is, both Prhyme and Tavolo are great, local options, and they’re both sure to please for a romantic dinner. Tavolo is an Italian-inspired eatery in downtown Tulsa at 427 S. Boston is situated in the art deco-classic Atlas Life Building.

Tavolo is also featuring a prix fixe menu for Valentine’s Feb. 12-14. Call them at 918-949-4498 for details and to make reservations.

IMG_2654For my dinner, I chose the Chef’s Tasting, a menu selection that changes every few weeks. My tasting included a Strawberry Fields Salad with a delicious cream on the side, Risotto with Beef Tips, Gorgonzala, and Asaparagus, and Tiramisu for dessert. Let it be known that Risotto is undoubtedly the specialty at Tavolo. You can “create your own risotto,” choosing a sauce (pesto, gorgonzola, parmesan, or chianti), a vegetable (mushrooms, tomatoes, butternut squash, or spinach), and a protein (chicken, Italian sausage, tenderloin tips, or shrimp). The risotto is truly amazing, and you won’t find anything like it anywhere else in Tulsa.

For appetizers, my husband first chose the Butternut Squash Soup (crème fraÎche, toasted pumpkin seeds). This unique, creamy soup is naturally somewhat reminiscent of Thanksgiving time. He also opted for the Fried Risotto Cakes (fresh mozzarella filled, tomato jam, sage aioli). Once again, the chefs at Tavolo have gotten creative with risotto and fit it into a creative, superb appetizer.

For his main course, my husband also tried the risotto: selecting the Pesto Spinach Shrimp create-your-own option.IMG_2657

We shared the Tiramisu from my Chef’s Tasting for dessert. It was light, fluffy, spicy — everything Tiramisu should be!

Dining in such an historic atmosphere as the Atlas Life Building makes you feel like you’ve stepped back in time to the Oil Boom of the 1920’s, automatically adding an air of romance and intrigue to your Valentine’s date!

What are your favorite places to dine for Valentine’s dinner? What did we miss? Share your favorite romantic spots in the comments!

 

 

Yummy Places

5 Restaurants to Try in the New Year – 2014 Version

Last year, I wrote about new Tulsa restaurants to try in 2013, and it received beaucoups of hits. So I figured…why not try it again? This short list does not entail all of the new restaurants to appear on the Tulsa scene lately, but it is the 5 new restaurants that top my list.

phatphillys
phatphillys.com

5. Phat Philly’s

Let’s face it…any place with the name “Phat” in the title is going to top my charts. All joshing aside, this place is now THE place to go for a hot sandwich in Tulsa. If you had asked me a year ago, “Where’s a good place to go for a Cheesesteak in Tulsa?”, I probably would have been like, “Uh…Subway?” Now, thankfully, there is a delicious, local answer to that question.

Phat Philly’s creator, Jason Smith, was naturally inspired to make the satisfying sandwiches during his time living in Philadelphia. However, unlike like Philadelphia, the sandwiches at Phat Philly’s are not mass-produced by a machine; they are each made-to-order, guaranteeing a product that may be even better than a Philly Cheesesteak made in Philly!

In addition to delicious cheesesteaks made with either steak or chicken, their menu also features salads, wings, cheese fries, tots, waffle fries, beer, and more.

The single Phat Philly’s location near Cherry Street at 1305 S. Peoria stays consistently busy and has stellar (+4 stars) on both UrbanSpoon and Yelp. You’re likely to give it a 4-star rating too, if you give it a try!

Phat Philly's on Urbanspoon

//ap.lijit.com/www/delivery/fpi.js?z=367507&u=tulsaplaces&width=300&height=250

raising-canes-chicken-fingers-box-014. Raising Cane’s.

Ok, allow me to put one chain restaurant in my post…geez! All the rest will be local, I promise. But the honest-to-goodness, chicken finger-lickin’-good truth of it is, Raising Cane’s is some of the best darn drive-thru chicken in the world, and Tulsa is lucky to now have two locations: one in Woodland Hills mall, and a free-standing location at 48th & Yale.

Raising Cane’s, based out of Louisiana, is known for its chicken fingers, crinkle-cut fries, and something out-of-this-world delicious known as Cane’s Sauce (for dipping aforementioned items in). As could be imagined, their sweet tea is truly Southern sweet tea and will knock your socks off. Probably not the best way to stick with a New Year’s resolution of losing weight, but it sure is tasty!

Raising Cane's on Urbanspoon

facebook.com/WhiteFlagTulsa
facebook.com/WhiteFlagTulsa

3. White Flag

If you’re in the Blue Dome District expecting to go to Back Alley Blues & BBQ, you’ll discover that that restaurant no longer exists. However, entrepreneur Blake Ewing has transformed what was formerly his Back Alley restaurant into White Flag, a gourmet burger joint that also serves some of Back Alley’s favorite menu items, such as their fries and candied bacon. You’ll also find some “barbeque-esque” items on the menu, like the Back Alley Fail — a burger piled high with pulled pork, green apple slaw, Back Alley barbecue sauce, red onions and cheddar jack cheese.

White Flag, located at 116 S. Elgin Ave., serves a truly extensive array of creative burgers. Looking for a brunch burger, for example? Try the Hangover: a fried egg, smoked bacon, Swiss cheese and maple syrup on a waffle. And in case you saved room for dessert, this is about the only place other than the State Fair where you can find a Fried Twinkie. You’re going to love White Flag’s eclectic take on burgers and more.

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prhymetulsa.com

White Flag on Urbanspoon

2. PRHYME Downtown Steakhouse

Prhyme entered the fine dining scene in Tulsa at just the right time, at just the right place. With an enviable location in the Brady Arts District at 111 N. Main St., Prhyme is now the place to take a business client or a date for a special occasion. Created by Justin Thompson, the same entrepreneur who brought Tulsa Juniper and Tavolo, Prhyme is a truly elegant dining experience. Steaks, ranging from prime tenderloin, NY strip, to Australian lamb chops, are the specialty at Prhyme. Their menu also features a wide array of seafood, including King Salmon, Coldwater Lobster Pasta, and Brown Butter Pasta.

With a classy atmosphere, excellent service, and exquisite menu options, Prhyme is a great addition to the ever-expanding fine dining options in downtown Tulsa.

PRHYME: Downtown Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

  1. The Rusty Crane

    Yet another newcomer to the downtown Tulsa foodie scene tops my list. Located in the Brady Arts District at 109 N. Detroit, the Rusty Crane is a behemoth of a restaurant — it’s huge! That’s because the building is inside a 90-year-old warehouse. So it’s a rare occasion that you have to wait long for a table. If you’re lucky, you may even get to sit at the table that was formerly an elevator shaft.

The Rusty Crane offers a hearty lunch menu with entrees designed to make guests feel full and energetic so they can return to work and still be productive. (instead of “blah,” like after you eat Mexican food for lunch). Just a few of those items are spinach and chef salads, wraps (Mediterranean, Chicken Caesar, the Oriental, Veggie, and Avocado-Turkey-Bacon), and plates with chicken breast, tilapia or black bean hummus. Among the sides are almonds, sauteed vegetables, tabouli and chips with a house-made salsa. If you’re not interested in a “non-no-crash” item, try the “yum-ladas,” enchiladas that are supposedly even better than enchiladas because they are each individually marinated.

The Rusty Crane has much more than just lunch items, though. They offer an array of signature plates, including Grilled Sirloin, Grilled Ribeye, and Mango Tilapia. I’ve also heard their Wings and Cowboy Queso are out-of-this-world.

Well, that pretty much wraps up my list of new restaurants to check out in Tulsa in 2014. What other new restaurants in the Tulsa area top your list?

The Rusty Crane on Urbanspoon