The question you’re more likely to get at the restaurant with the best eggs Benedict and hamburger deals in town isn’t “Do you want fries with that?” It’s “How’d you shoot today?”
The Golf Club Diner at Lake Hefner Golf Club, 491 S. Lake Hefner Drive, about a quarter mile north on Meridian Avenue off Northwest Expressway, is open from dusk till dawn, depending on the season.
Chef Tim Lienke took over the restaurant in 1999 when he arrived from Classen Grill, bringing some of its recipes, including its hollandaise sauce, baked cheese grits and New Orleans bread pudding, to the restaurant by the links.
The hollandaise is the key to the diner’s most successful item, the classic eggs Benedict. Hollandaise can be one of the more difficult menus items to make from scratch, and the diner’s version is excellent.
“I think it’s more than just being from scratch, although many places use a mix, because you have to hit the perfect balance of white wine and lemon juice,” Lienke said. “The eggs are cooked up the point of being done, but not scrambled, and the butter has to be the same temperature to get proper emulsification.”
The result is a light and airy hollandaise with acidic notes of lemon and creamy notes of butter that will trick your brain into thinking that there is cheese in the sauce. It is such a difference from the thick and viscous hollandaise that originates from a packet.
A few readers suggested that I check out the diner and mentioned the eggs Benedict, but I was expecting what amounts to a short-order kitchen. I figured it would only have a few things on the menu but do them well.
This is not the case at all. Guests go through a line and pick out a drink before ordering with the chef off a menu that includes large selection of all-day breakfast, lunch and dinner options. After the order is placed, guests wait for their number to be called and pick up food along with requisite condiments behind the ordering counter.
Lienke said that the menu has expanded slowly and naturally over the years as specials have made their way to the permanent menu. Classic eggs Benedict ($8.95) is joined by Eggs Arnold ($7.95), which replaces the ham with sausage and hollandaise with country gravy. At many places, the Arnold might be a tongue-in-cheek reference to turncoat Benedict Arnold, but not at The Golf Club Diner.
“We’re at a golf course, so it’s Arnold Palmer,” Lienke said.
Eggs Blackstone ($8.95) top a toasted English muffin with bacon and grilled tomato with hollandaise and a poached egg. The Eggs Norwegian ($9.95) subs in smoked salmon.
I’ve had all kinds of variations on eggs Benedict through the years: fried green tomatoes, chicken-fried chicken and steak (I’m sensing a theme here), and it’s hard to beat the classic. The slice of ham at The Golf Club Diner drapes over the side of the English muffin and allows for a consistent bite.
I arrived at the restaurant around noon on a Wednesday when they had eggs Benedict as a special that included a side and drink for $5.95. At a price less than most fast-food comwbo meals, you can get a meal prepared with attention and care. The home fries were perfectly crispy and seasoned.
The menu has expanded in recent years to include a few Tex-Mex-inspired dishes like huevos rancheros and “Texican” omelet and salad, but the basis of the lunch menu highlights the various Oklahoma hamburgers ($8.45-8.95 with a choice of side). Using quarter-pound patties, the diner offers Theta, Caesar and onion burgers. In addition, there is a chili cheeseburger, a blackened blue burger and a California burger ($9.45) with guacamole, bacon and chipotle mayonnaise.
If you’re looking for something sweet, the bread pudding isn’t the only dish made famous by New Orleans on the menu. Instead of making beignets in the style popularized by Café Du Monde, Lienke opts for a French preparation. Beignets come two for $1.95 all the way up to $4.95 for eight.
“The New Orleans style is more like a sopapilla, rolled out and cut. The French style is more like a cream puff; it is not rolled out and goes directly into the fryer,” he said.
Lienke said the diner’s hours follows the sundial. Its first goal is to be available to the golfers at Lake Hefner Golf Club’s two 18-hole courses, but anyone can stop by the cafe that has plenty of seating, including views of the course with the lake in the distance.
The diner opens as early as 6 a.m. during the summer but is open by 7 a.m. even if it is still pre-dawn during other parts of the year. It will close as early as 5:45 p.m., but during the summer, it is open until 9 p.m.
I haven’t swung a golf club in at least 15 years, but The Golf Club Diner at Lake Hefner Golf Club gives me a reason to visit the course with excitement.