Even though NE 23rd Street is one of the most historical streets in Oklahoma City, many locals tend to forget that it’s also home to some of the most grassroots and homegrown eateries in town, the best having a specific focus on soul food, barbecue and old-fashioned Southern cooking. NE 23rd Street restaurants are OKC’s culinary history all in a few blocks and really should be revered as such.
Winning big can be hungry, thirsty work. We scoured Oklahoma’s casinos for your best bets on sustenance whether you are on a winning streak, holding, folding, walking away, running, or just down to your last five bucks.
Gage’s Steak House
202 W. Harrison Ave., Guthrie
Maybe Gage’s, with its wide-open spaces and a bit of a cowboy twist thrown into the mix, does reflect Guthrie. We visited the steak-heavy Gage’s on a recent Saturday night, and it was a smart move when I called ahead for a reservation. At 6:30 p.m., the place was already filled.
The bustling restaurant is downstairs from the Sand Plum Event Center, on the corner of West Harrison and First Street, inside the Victor Inn. Parking is easy, and there are two entrances: one on the side and the other taking an elevator down from the first floor.
As the door opened, my friend commented on how nice the place looked. A nicely decorated full bar with plenty of seating is in one corner of the brick-walled dining room, with a few outside windows. When we visited, a wedding reception (complete with priest) was taking up the back room reserved for private parties. And way on the other side of the open dining room was an 18-top table loaded with food and diners.
This is certainly not an intimate, candlelit room, but spacious and filled with people dressed in suits, jeans and even cowboy hats; yet it is surprisingly homey and unintimidating.
Among the food I found particularly memorable in the starter sections were deep-fried tobacco onions ($4.95) presented with a zippy horseradish dipping sauce, or panseared crab cakes ($8.95) served with a roasted red pepper sauce.
We opted for its hot wings ($5.95) — seven wings tossed in a spicy seasoning and served with ranch and blue cheese dressings, carrots and celery sticks — and the Land-Run quesadilla ($8.95), a nice presentation done in the customers’ choice of beef, shrimp or chicken, tossed with peppers and onions on a spinach tortilla with pepper Jack cheese.
For our entrées, hands down, it was the huge, beautifully grilled Delmonico steak ($23.95), which was freshly cut right there at Gage’s by executive chef Rob Ferris. Marinated and grilled perfectly, it came to the table with grilled onions, garlic and paprika and a demi-glace topped with tobacco onions. It was accompanied by a twice-baked potato, asparagus and baby carrots.
When it comes to beef, there seems to be a direct correlation between quality and price. Cheap meat equals globs of unwanted fat and an aerobic workout for one’s jaw.
The appealing veal piccata ($21.95) was a large portion, too, and it was a tender veal cutlet. The cutlet had been sautéed with a mixture of shallots, pungent capers, mushrooms and was de-glazed with white wine and lemon and finished with a creamy butter sauce. That dish, served over orzo pasta with julienne vegetables, exemplifies the genius of the chef’s style and experience at its best.
Desserts ($4 each) were quite good. We finished with two, the molten chocolate cake served warm with vanilla-bean ice cream and the equally delicious smooth and creamy vanilla crème brûlée.
Guthrie waited a long time for Gage’s to open and soon figured out that it was worth the wait. Owner Ronney Gage and his son-in-law, Rob Ferris, gathered a knowledgeable staff, many from both of their families. Ferris’ wife, Jill King, invited members of her family to join them in the venture, and Ferris did the same. Randy Biggs, a nephew of Ferris, is the restaurant manager, and the sous chef, Wayne Parker, is Ferris’ brother-in-law.
“We all get along great,” Ferris said. “We are one big happy family.”
Gage and Ferris waited until they had all of their ducks in a row. Ferris, an experienced chef who was most recently the food and beverage director at the Sheraton in Oklahoma City, created a menu that is creative enough for foodies, but won’t intimidate those who come mainly for a steak.
And those steaks are wowsers.
Everything, from the bread to the desserts, are all done from scratch at this dinner-only restaurant.