1-4 p.m. and 5-8 p.m. Saturday
TapWerks Ale House & Cafe
121 E. Sheridan
First, let’s get one thing straight: Cows do not fly. They don’t normally anyway, unless there’s an aircraft, high explosives or wind-assist from Mother Nature. The Flying Cow Cafe serves the impressive National Weather Center complex on the University of Oklahoma campus immediately southeast of the Lloyd Noble Center. It’s named for a memorable scene in the 1996 movie “Twister.”
The National Weather Center is a world-class, high-tech information facility. There are offices and conference rooms for OU faculty, students, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration employees and corporate contractors. There’s plenty of free parking, and the sign-in to enter the building is quick and efficient.
“We want people to know we’re here,” OU public relations specialist Lauren Royston said. “You can make a day of it by coming in for a tour of the facility and then have a meal at the Flying Cow Cafe.”right, The quarter-bird rotisserie meal at The Flying Cow Cafe.
It’s a bright, modern dining room with lots of stainless steel, blond wood tables and black chairs. Floorto-ceiling windows give a panoramic view, and a single big-screen TV is tuned to The Weather Channel.
The Flying Cow is not just a snack bar; it’s a full-service restaurant with chef Curtis J. Gregoire at the helm. Manager Rhonda Winkelman said hundreds of selections rotate through a hot buffet that changes daily.
“My personal favorites are our meat loaf and jambalaya,” she said. All the entrees are $6.50, including a beverage and two side dishes. Also popular are beef or chicken enchiladas and chicken-fried steak.
Certain days are associated with specific regular customer favorites. I tried Friday’s catfish plate that was as good as you’ll find at any lakeside joint. The petite fillets were mild flavored and delicately seasoned. One of my sides was an amazingly creamy white potato salad. Rotisserie chicken is on the buffet most days, and they do a good job roasting birds. The server behind the counter asks if you want white or dark meat and deftly cuts a quarter chicken of your choice.Brick-oven pizza (7-inch personal size) is baked to order, and when I was in they had a weekly special goat cheese pie ($6) that the chef was bragging about. You can check the cafe’s Facebook page for daily menu offerings and also see that they have an amusing repartee with regular customers. Chef Gregoire said his student patrons tend to be clued-in to the latest culinary trends.
“My challenge is to take the common item and present it in an uncommon way,” he said.
The Flying Cow club sandwich ($4.95) was a standout because the bacon had an extra strong hickorysmoked flavor. Other sandwiching options include veggies, tuna, pastrami, BLT, turkey, Reuben or ham and Swiss, all $4.95. Baked ziti or spaghetti ($4.75) is served with marinara sauce, Parmesan and garlic bread. Indian tacos ($6.50) are served every Wednesday, and they’re the cafe’s signature dish. It’s a generous hunk of fry bread smothered with your choice of chicken or beef and frijoles. The mélange is blanketed with tomato, lettuce, red onion, ripe olives, cheese and jalapeños.
a Whoopie Pie for dessert. It’s a big devil’s food cake concoction with
cream filling that students have given the unfortunate nickname of what
else? A cow pie.
Photo by Mark Hancock
Oklahoma Gazette’s restaurant review policy is to highlight the positive aspects and include constructive criticism regarding food, ambience or service when appropriate.