We know. It’s hot. It’s summer in Oklahoma. Cool down by sampling cocktails that local bars and restaurants have concocted just for you. Find a nice, air conditioned space or a shaded patio and while away the hours drinking the flavors of summer. You might decide it’s not that bad after all.
— by Devon Green, photos by Mark Hancock, Shannon Cornman and Lauren Hamilton
There are a wealth of new local eateries cropping up in the metro and even more coming. If they’re not on your radar, they should be. From the comfy atmosphere at The Barrel on Western Avenue to the laid-back vibe at the Plaza District’s coffee shop, you might find a new regular hangout.
— by Devon Green, photos by Mark Hancock and Shannon Cornman
Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, the fancifully named Bossy Squirrel Cafe serves up lunch in Norman.
The Bossy Squirrel Cafe
104 E. Gray, Norman
Owner: Melodee Squirrel
Food style: Healthy American
Average check: $9
Melodee Squirrel has heard all the squirrel jokes and coined a few of her own.
But when she finally had the opportunity to own her own restaurant, she and husband Richard decided they’d incorporate their name into the new Norman restaurant after noticing all the bossy squirrels chattering away in their yard at home.
“I think it must be my husband,” she said, jokingly, about which one of them is the bossy Squirrel.
Squirrel bought the former Grape Vine restaurant, 104 E. Gray, in June 2010, a spot just behind the Sooner Theatre and next to the railroad tracks. She opened the next day as the 55-seat Bossy Squirrel Cafe, to make sure her employees didn’t have any downtime.
A cheery, teal-colored door welcomes diners to the intimate, weekday, lunch-only restaurant. The all-homemade menu stayed almost the same, with a few healthier modifications, like more organic and reduced-fat ingredients, free-range local beef and local organic eggs.
“Just trying to provide a little bit healthier, tastier food,” Squirrel said.
Every day there is a variety of quiche, soup, sandwiches and maindish salads. And just so you know up front — there is no “squirrel” on the menu, only serving up the menu, as in Melodee Squirrel.
It’s Squirrel’s fresh-daily, madefrom-scratch specials that are her regulars’ culinary favorites.
The quiche-of-the-day special ($7.95) gets you a choice of up to five quiches created with a puff pastry crust, a choice of soup or salad and a complimentary piece of cake.
A recent weekday featured four options: lobster, spinach and artichoke, southwestern chicken and veggie quiches.
The daily special ($7.95) might be meatloaf and mashed potatoes, a selection of pot pies or taco salad piled high with homemade chili and freshly grated cheese. The special is served with a choice of soup or salad and that complimentary piece of cake.
The cake ($1.50) is a little square of goodness that keeps them coming back. It might be a red velvet cake one day or a fresh strawberry cake with fresh strawberry icing the next.
The cafe’s signature Bossy chicken salad sandwich ($6.50) is a tasty best seller. A chicken breast is tossed with apples, celery, grapes, Mandarin oranges and special dressing, then served on a fresh croissant with a pickle spear and choice of potato chips or mustard potato salad.
Other sandwiches range from the Reuben ($6.50), made with deli-sliced corned beef on toasted rye bread with a choice of sauerkraut or lettuce, to the turkey and Swiss ($6.50), made with lean, herb-roasted turkey breast.
The fresh mozzarella sandwich ($6.50) is served on a baguette with basil vinaigrette, tomatoes, lettuce and onion.
The main-course salads ($6.95) range from the favorite Bossy chicken salad to the light tuna salad or popular spinach and strawberry salad with raspberry, poppy-seed dressing.
A homemade baked potato soup is always on the menu, served along with several soup specials, like tomato basil or broccoli cheese ($2.95, cup; $4.50, bowl). Soup and a garden salad are $6.95, or soup and a whole sandwich are $8.95.
The pick-two combo meal ($7.95) lets you choose any halfsandwich, a cup of soup and complimentary piece of cake.
Squirrel said The Bossy Squirrel is drawing support from the vegetarian community, with several veggie-only quiches, soups and sandwiches always included in the specials.
Patio dining is available in warmer months. The Bossy Squirrel Cafe also hosts private parties up to 55 people in the evenings or on weekends, with allhomemade menus customized for the guests.
Squirrel’s husband’s hobby is finding and selling the antiques on display throughout the restaurant, which keeps him involved in the business, she said. And the decor is gradually moving away from the Grape Vine’s grape motif and toward a comfortable native look of turquoises and browns.
Squirrel has been a familiar face on the metro restaurant scene for more than three decades, waiting tables at the Flying Saucer Cafe, Bellini’s, Royal Bavaria and most recently at Patsy’s Fine Italian Dining in Norman for nine years.
The Bossy Squirrel Cafe is open 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday.