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
When opening a restaurant, it’s all about location, location, location. The day after it opens, it’s all about people, people, people.
In particular, diners are stuffing themselves silly on the onion rings ($4), which are simplicity on a plate — and they may just remind diners of the rings at another restaurant. Those homemade onion rings diners find at West come from the comfy, laid-back Johnnie’s Charcoal Broiler, which is owned by brothers Rick and David Haynes. That shared recipe is no coincidence; West is the brothers’ latest concept.
At West, the Haynes brothers are offering up familiar food with a twist.
For example, the seasonal bread pudding ($7) won us over with the soaked up whiskey sauce. Bits of goat cheese sprinkled on top increased the depth of richness.Another star on the menu is the appetizer zuccha chips ($5), which are thinly sliced zucchini, dusted with flour, flash-fried and sprinkled with sea salt. We scarfed them down.
And those piled-high onion rings? I have had a love/hate relationship with those salty, crunchy rings for years. I love to eat them, but dread the thought of wearing them on my butt. But we couldn’t resist and ate those, too.
Although I have dined at West several times, I have been won over by its grilled cheese ($8) — beloved by all — that is done with rich, fresh ricotta cheese. (And ricotta, by the way, is made from the whey left over from making mozzarella and provolone.)
We tried the thick tomato basil soup ($6) that had grilled cheese croutons on the top for an interesting twist. The gazpacho ($6) was also appealing.
The first courses on West’s menu provide a range of tastes. For vegetarians, West has a lovely entrée called A Simple Plate of Seasonal Veggies ($13). Containing a colorful mix of cooked asparagus, sliced zucchini, tomatoes and a mound of couscous, it was a nice balance of flavor, texture and seasonality finished with a balsamic glaze.
For another opener, we also tried the smooth and creamy hummus that came with the purée trio ($9) done on French bread topped with shredded Parmesan cheese that nicely rounded out the appetizers.
Great servers seem to have eyes in the back of their heads, and ours, Harvey Elkins (who always seems to be called Harvey Wallbanger), must have anticipated every need that we had. He said the bow-tie pasta with salmon ($16) was most popular.I loved it. It was done with smoked salmon and grilled onions, with an addictive vodka cream sauce. The bow-tie pasta is best reserved for Saturdays, when napping afterward is possible. Attempt it alone, and you will have leftovers for another meal. I did.
We also tried the large, filling and flavorful pork tenderloin ($19) paired with luscious and peppery whipped sweet potatoes, grilled asparagus and an apricot demiglace. We also opted for the chicken pot pie ($12). It was smooth and creamy, done with mashed potatoes and a lid of puff pastry.
The West decor is modern, revolving around the can’t-miss-it bar, and the room is softly lit with a warm ambience. Service has been excellent every time I’ve visited — professional, informative and above all, most friendly.
Manager Andy Dixon said that valet parking is available most nights, and it was on the Saturday night when we visited.
It bodes well for West to hop to the front of local dining and stay there for several years.
Oklahoma Gazette’s restaurant review policy is to highlight the positive aspects, and include constructive criticism regarding food, ambience or service when appropriate.