Oklahoma City

Dec20

Brats, Beers, and Duck Fat Fries – Fassler Hall (OKC)

Over the last week, I believe there have been four or five new bars or restaurants open their doors in our great city. It’s hard to keep up with all this progress!

FasslerbeerWhen I heard about the idea of Fassler Hall, I was RIDICULOUSLY excited. Being a fan of all things beer and comfort food like sausages and duck fat fries, this place is right up my alley. Speaking of alleys, it is right above the new mid-century themed bowling alley, Dust Bowl Lanes. We didn’t have time to catch Dust Bowl this time, but were more focused on some delicious German beers and sausages. The OKC location of Fassler Hall/Dust Bowl Lanes is the second installment of the Tulsa favorites. From what I hear, the Tulsa Fassler is known for its amazing music selection, so I’m interested to see if the OKC location continues in this tradition. My Tulsa friends have definitely raved about Fassler Hall, so I was immediately excited to try it out.

When you walk into Fassler Hall, you are immediately struck by the size of the place. It is very large with family-style tables and a bar that goes the entire length of the place. The crowd was what you would expect in Midtown, largely folks in their 20s and 30s looking for a laid-back place to grab a beer and a bite to eat. Two walls of the restaurant are covered in windows and you get a prime view of our ever-growing Oklahoma City skyline.

FasslerdogFor the longest time, I have felt like Oklahoma City has been lacking in bars that are largely beer focused. We of course have McNellie’s and their extensive beer selection, but besides that, your next best option was TapWerks in Bricktown. I don’t know about you guys, but I steer clear of Bricktown with every fiber of my being. So McNellie’s was about your only choice if you wanted to grab a laid-back beer with friends after work. Fassler Hall and some of the new bars/restaurants coming to our city are definitely changing the game. McNellie’s and Fassler are owned by the same restaurant group, so I had high expectations going in.

We took our seat at one of the family-style tables and were greeted by a very friendly server. She was very knowledgeable on the beers and the food selection. We chose to obviously grab a couple of beers. I got the Konig Ludwig Hefe-Dunkel and got the biggest size (I couldn’t finish it and had to drink it with both hands!). The beer selection was to be expected…heavy on the German beers, but quite a few you can’t find many other places in Oklahoma City. The Germans definitely know how to make their beer. Behind Belgium, Germany produces, in my opinion, some of the best beers in the world. It’s exciting to have a piece of that in Midtown OKC.

FasslersausageThe food menu is largely made up of sausages and some pretty unhealthy, but ridiculously delicious, sides. We got the Jalepeno-Cheddar Sausage dog with a side of the smoked gouda dressing and we also got the sausage sampler because go big or go home (AM I RIGHT?!) with the Bratwurst, Cheddarwurst, and Hunter (a smoked venison, bison, and pork sausage). And of course, duck fat fries were a must for our side because anything in duck fat is immediately amazing. The Jalepeno-Cheddar sausage was just so amazing. I wasn’t horribly hungry when we went to Fassler, but somehow, I ate every bite because it was just so good. I got mine with sauerkraut and of course topped it with “haus mustard” and the smoked gouda sauce. The sausage sampler sausages were all solid, but I believe my favorite was the Hunter. It had a very complex flavor that was unique from the other sausages we tried. Last but not least, the duck fat fries… DUCK FAT FRIES.. So. Good. I dipped mine in the smoked gouda sauce and the haus mustard. The smoked gouda plus the fries was just a perfect combination.

FasslerfriesOverall, I think Fassler Hall will be the perfect addition to Oklahoma City. It’s laid-back and not overly complicated. It’s a great place to grab a quick meal and a beer with friends. I’m always a little nervous to try new restaurants right after opening because so often it takes a bit to work out kinks, but Fassler was definitely on their game. I wouldn’t suggest coming to Fassler if you are on a diet, but I would assume most people know that going into a Fassler visit. Fassler Hall is not just another run-of-the mill bar, but truly embraces the German roots from which it was founded. I have heard nothing but positive reviews from friends about Fassler. I’m absolutely sure it will be a huge success in our city.

Final word: Eat there. Drink there. Go there often.

Fassler Hall on Urbanspoon

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Dec09

Pizza with much gusto – Pizzeria Gusto (OKC)

pizzeriagusto4As you know, I’m back from a much too long hiatus from the foodie blog world. I recently had the pleasure of eating at Uptown OKC’s newest restaurant, Pizzeria Gusto. I moved to Mesta Park in May of this year and part of the reason I moved to this part of the city is the exciting potential this area holds. When I tell people that aren’t familiar with Oklahoma City’s revitalization that I live close to 23rd Street, they cringe. Those of us that live here know otherwise. Uptown OKC is RAPIDLY changing and Pizzeria Gusto is one of our first examples of this progress.

When I first heard that Pizzeria Gusto was coming to Uptown, I was less than pleased. Oklahoma City actually has a great deal of really great pizza restaurants…Empire Slice House, The Wedge, Hideaway, Pizza 23, etc….So I was really hoping we would get some cuisine variety up the road. My friends quickly shut my concerns down by letting me know the same folks behind Big Truck Tacos, Mutts, and Back Door BBQ, all some of my favorite eateries in OKC, were behind Pizzeria Gusto. So, I patiently (not so patiently) awaited the arrival of our new restaurant. By patiently, I mean driving by to see the construction progress almost daily and obsessively checking their Facebook for updates. The thing about Pizzeria Gusto is that it offers a different kind of dining experience than the rest of Oklahoma City’s pizza restaurants and I knew the moment I walked in.

pizzeriagusto5I went to Pizzeria Gusto on a Friday night just a couple weeks after they opened. I was pleasantly surprised to walk into a vibrant restaurant with modern, yet also classic decor. We had to wait just a bit, so we took a seat at the bar because DRINKZ. I was pretty much blown away by their cocktail and beer menu. I happen to be a huge fan of the fancy cocktail. The more ingredients in a cocktail that are unknown to me, the better. I started the night off with “The Lovers of Pompeii,” which was a cocktail made with Galliano. Galliano is a sweet herbal liqueur and the bartender was super excited to use it. He said it is always a delight to make a drink with the Galliano as it is such a fun and diverse liquor. This drink was also made with Amaro Nonino, which is another Italian herbal liqueur. This drink was totally on the fruity side, but was very interesting and yummy, as I had never tried either Gilliano or Amaro Nonino.  I was very impressed by Pizzeria Gusto’s authenticity in liquors. Every one of the drinks had an Italian liquor that I had never tried. In addition to the awesome cocktails, their beer selection was AWESOME. I will tell you…I immediately harshly judge a bar or restaurant if their beer selection is sub-par. Pizzeria Gusto did no disappoint by offering quite a few craft brews and very few “common” beers. I was super happy to NOT see a Bud Light or Miller on the menu. In this day and age of awesome beer, there is just absolutely no excuse for folks to drink that watered-down nonsense.pizzeriagusto2

Obviously, I didn’t come to Pizzeria Gusto to just get drinks, so then comes the food. Something that I believe makes Pizzeria Gusto unique in the OKC pizza market is that it isn’t just a pizza restaurant. Their small plates, which include Italian classics such as meatballs, bruschetta, fried calamari, and arancini are just the perfect plate to start out your meal. We chose to try the calamari andpizzeriagusto3 arancini this time around. The calamari was just outstanding and served with this great tomato dipping sauce. The arancini was also great. For those that don’t know, arancini is fried risotto balls with cheese (carbs on carbs on carbs). It was served with an awesome marinara sauce. I have high marinara standards. I make my own marinara sauce and just love Italian food. If a restaurant fails on the marinara front, they fail in my heart. Pizzeria Gusto did the opposite. Their marinara was the perfect combination of tartness from the tomatoes and sweet and savory from the spices.

NOW FOR THE MAIN EVENT

pizzeriagusto1We came to Pizzeria Gusto to eat pizza obviously. Pizzeria Gusto is unique in that they offer Neapolitan-style pizza. I’m a huge fan of this cooking style because it is just so simple and accentuates the flavors of tomato, herbs, and cheese, which are three things I just absolutely love. I could have just stuck to a simple Margherita pizza, which is a true Neopolitan-style pizza staple but, my table chose to try out the Chicken pizza and Meatball pizza. The chicken pizza was topped with goat cheese and arugula, so how could you go wrong? I believe the true star was the meatball pizza. I’m a big fan of all things meat, so I have always had a soft spot in my heart for a meatball pizza. Pizzeria Gusto’s was outstanding. What makes their meatball pizza great is that it wasn’t complicated. It was pizza with meatballs with a few peppers added in to the mix. If you ask any Italian what Americans do wrong with pizza is that we complicate it and don’t use pure ingredients. That’s what Pizzeria Gusto does best. Their oven-fired pizza has the perfect equation of fresh ingredients, char from the hot, Italian-style pizza oven, and enough TLC to show they really care about providing an authentic, delicious meal for those that come through their doors.

The take-away from Pizzeria Gusto is that the atmosphere is that of a bigger city…something you would see in a New York City or Washington, D.C. I had just come from a vacation in New York City just a few days before I went to Pizzeria Gusto and I felt like I was eating in a small restaurant in the Lower East Side. You aren’t going to get some revolutionary, out-of-the-box pizza experience like you would at some pizza restaurants in town, but you will get an authentic, thoughtful meal that will absolutely satisfy. Pizzeria Gusto is absolutely great for date night or a night with family or friends.

This restaurant experience gives me hope for my dear city, which is so rapidly changing. I cannot wait to see what other food adventures we will get to experience in the near future.

Pizzeria Gusto on Urbanspoon

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Aug03

Taco Tuesday…err I mean Taco Day After Monday at Iguana in OKC

So this one time…in hot and steamy OKC in August…there existed a restaurant called Iguana Grill.  They had been holding weekly taco nights called “taco Tuesday” for over a year now.  This “taco Tuesday” was a large hit with the OKC crowd because of the yumminess and crafting of great tacos and the fact that it allowed you to eat great while still stay on budget.  And then…out of the clear blue sky… a corporate jerk in the fashion of Taco Johns (their slogan is the “fresh taste of west mex”….wtf is west mex…) swoops in and attempts to rain on Iguana’s Parade by letting them know that “taco Tuesday” has been trademarked by them and demanded that Iguana change the name of their Tuesday evening festivities.  Little did Taco John’s know that OKC loves our local businesses and does not appreciate corporations which are not even in Oklahoma butting in and telling us what we can or cannot do.  Needless to say, a Twitter firestorm has been brewing the last couple of days and this week’s Taco Tuesday (or Taco Day After Monday…same DAMN thing) was a roaring success.

I, of course, in the excitement of the evening forgot to take pictures of the food, but I assure you, it was fabulous.  The specials tonight (doing this off the top of my head..hope I don’t screw up!) were Wild Mushroom, Roasted Vegetable, Quail with peach chutney, and Pork.  I, being the Okie Preggie, just chose to stick with the vegetable and a couple of beef tacos.  They were of course delicious.  The rest of my table ventured out with the rest and all had great things to say about all of the food.

All of this reminds me of another story involving an Oklahoma small business and a large corporation.  As many of you know, I hail from the sprawling metropolis of Marlow, OK (population 4500).  There was a clothing boutique there that was a very small, family owned business called Coco’s.  Well a few years back, some way somehow, Chanel got wind of this business and wrote a letter stating that the name “CoCo” was trademarked and they were not allowed to use this name for their business.  Now forgive me if I am wrong, but this small clothing boutique would NEVER infringe on any of Chanel’s clientele.  Most Marlowites have never even heard of Chanel and certainly will never be able to afford it.  It reminds me very much of tonight’s debacle.

The story to take away from the evening is not necessarily the awesomeness of the food/company/atmosphere/etc., but that we Oklahomans band together when someone steps in and shakes their corporate finger at us.  We are proud of our local businesses and all this has done is made us support Iguana THAT much more.  So, Thanks Taco Johns for helping boost our Oklahoma economy.  We Taco Tuesday attendees will still continue calling it that even though it will not be the official name of every Tuesday night at Iguana and now have an army of angry, hungry Oklahomans behind us supporting the cause too.

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Apr14

RePUBlic- Oklahoma City

So during my lunch hour the other day, Jed (my co-worker) and I decided to try the talk of the town, Republic Gastropub.  I have heard nothing but amazing things about this new Oklahoma City restaurant that opened on March 29th.  I just had to try it.

We arrived at the prime lunch hour to the swanky little spot and there was of course a wait (remember…i said talk of the town).  We decided to grab a couple of spots at the bar.  I was immediately stricken by the LARGE amount of beers on tap (100 on tap…250 bottled!) and the giant tvs everywhere.  This bar seems like it would be a great place to watch a game.  I wasn’t there to watch a baseball game or the Thunder (PLAYOFFS…YEA!) play, I was hear to try these great burgers I have heard about.

I am a big fan of the slightly “flared” up (think Office Space) or “fancy” hamburger for all you non-movie fans out there.  The burgers at this place slightly remind me of Ray’s Hellburger in Arlington, VA.  The plus about Republic is that you also get a great, swanky atmosphere with a fabulous atmosphere to go with it.

Jed ordered the Belle Isle Burger.  This a burger with grilled onions, sauteed mushrooms, and Jed said “an interesting cheese sauce that surpringly works.”  He was pleased.  I wanted to try it, but he was being totally greedy and didn’t let me!  I ordered the Republic Burger.  This burger was SO yummy.  This had some bacon yumminess, gruyere cheese, bleu cheese and wait for it…. TOPPED WITH AN EGG.  Now I was telling some friends about this burger and apparently it isn’t a rare thing to find a burger topped with an egg.  Well it is in Okie Foodie’s world, so I was completely excited about this.  It was a great burger.  I’m a huge fan of anything with gruyere cheese (well….cheese in general), but this prooved to be an amazing lunch.

I definitely fed into the buzz about this new restaurant at the Classen Curve.  It is easily one of the best restaurant atmospheres in Oklahoma City.  It makes you want to pinch yourself because no…you aren’t in some swanky restaurant in LA or NYC, you are in the Sooner State.  If we continue to produce restaurants such as Republic, we are definitely on the up and up.

I also heard the donuts were amazing.  Save room next time because I definitely didn’t!

How about the Thunder!!!!  Thunder UP!

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Mar15

Sushi Neko- Oklahoma City

I remember the first time I ate sushi.  I was a NERVOUS wreck.  It’s like one of those things that if you haven’t grown up with it, everyone is afraid to try.  Believe me.  There are NO sushi restaurants in and around the Marlow, Oklahoma area.  We eat our fish fried and it is usually caught in the pond on our back 40 or in some muddy lake called Clear Creek (oxymoron much?).  Trying sushi was like taking a step out of my food comfort zone.  But glory, hallelujah am I glad I took a leap of faith on that one.

I began eating quite a bit of sushi while I lived in Washington, DC.  I usually stick to the rolls, simply because the unknown of the other kind (can’t remember the name….I’m a bad foodie) freaks me out.  I would be more than happy to try it…but have NO idea how to order!  Out in DC, we tried quite a few places and learned what we liked and didn’t like.  Getting Joe to enjoy sushi has to be one of my greatest achievements in life.  His name is Joe Bob.  Usually people named Joe Bob do not eat sushi.  But my person named Joe Bob does!

I wasn’t expecting much in the sushi category after moving back to Oklahoma.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  My co-worker Jed and I ventured off for a lunch full ‘o sushi.  We headed to one of his favorites, Sushi Neko and he basically said he was going to order for me.  Seriously…Jed knows everyone in this place.  I think he goes multiple times a week.  I usually put my trust in other people, because heck, I will try anything once.  He ordered the Cajun roll (crawfish in a spicy mayo), spicy tuna (my all-time favorite), and the lifesaver roll (minus the onion+extra tempura bacon).  The Cajun and spicy tuna were just exceptional.  The spicy tuna was easily the best spicy tuna that I have ever had.  The tuna was ACTUALLY spicy.  There is nothing that irks me more than getting spicy tuna and it not having any kick at all.  The highlight of the meal was easily the lifesaver roll.  From my understanding… This is basically a California roll with tempura bacon inside, topped with a small piece of tuna or salmon, lathered in spicy mayo.  Whatever was in it was AMAZING.  These are a mouth full…so definitely do not eat these on a date as they are not flattering while consuming, but they are glorious.

I know Sushi Neko is an Oklahoma City favorite.  I’m slapping myself for living in Norman all of those years and never trying this place.  It is easily one of my new favorites.  It’s definitely not very comforting for the pocket book…but you easily forget that once you are in their chic dining room and see all the yumminess of sushi all around you.

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