Tuesday, November 26, 2013

MAXXWELLS: Prime Rib & Meat Loaf & Bacon Cheese Burgers, Oh My!

     I really, REALLY dislike it when people give bad reviews...what's that saying? "If you can't think of anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."  Especially if you don't know good food.  I read some reviews on UrbanSpoon from "diners", and all I can say is, stop smoking or  STICK TO CHAIN RESTAURANTS!!  Moving on....

     I brought some clients to this place...these are hard-working construction guys and I knew, just KNEW they would appreciate this slightly upscaled version of good ol' home-cookin'.  The food is not over-seasoned, but is soooo flavorful!!  I wonder if some of these "diners" on UrbanSpoon, giving poor reviews on the food, might be smokers or used to chain restaurants where sodium is a prime and key ingredient in the foods being served?  At any rate, the food is just good, plain and simple.  

     Our experience was a good one. Greeted by the hostess upon entering and seated immediately was a great start.  It's a nice, big place with plenty of seating and a full-service bar.  I ordered the prime-rib, mashed potatoes and delicious, steamed veggies.  One client ordered the meat-loaf with the same sides as me, and the other client ordered a bacon cheeseburger with crispy french fries.  They both absolutely LOVED the food as did I.

     I also ordered the sweet potato tater tots and calamari.  The calamari had cayenne pepper mixed in to the flour it just a slight kick.  And the sweet potato tater tots were the best I've ever had.
 Sweet potato tater tots

 Calamari...oh yeah, you can see that sprinkled kick of spicy-ness...yes you can.

Meat loaf, mashed potatoes and steamed veggies...LOADED GOODNESS!!

Bacon cheeseburger and crispy, golden french fries...look at that juicy meat!!!

 Prime rib, steamed veggies and garlic mashed potatoes...your mouth is watering right about now.

     Okay, now for the rest of the story...while everything was great, service was a bit slow. They weren't that busy but it took forever to get our food.  There was a food critic in the restaurant and the owner or manager seemed to be so concerned and doting over this one person that they overlooked the fact that ONE PERSON will not make or break the restaurant...ONE bad experience however, will.  

     So, word to the wise, treat everyone the same because at the end of the day, it's your  "steady customers" or lack there of that will grow or kill your business.  PS. our waitress was awesome, even though she took the blame for the food taking so long...we knew there was a food critic that took our place in line in the kitchen.  Having said AAALLLL of that, next time you're in the mood for GREAT comfort/home-cookin' food with a nice atmosphere and a good wine list, give Maxxwells a whirl, you'll be glad you did. Cheers!

Maxxwell's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Napoli's Italian Restaurant in Bixby, Alimento Delizioso!


This little gem is hidden deep in Bixby, Oklahoma. I stopped for a quick lunch and quick is exactly what it was. But it didn't taste quick, it tasted flavorful and delicious. My experience was a good one, from both service and food standpoint.  The service was truly quick, friendly and the food was just so good.

     One thing I know about Italian food is that there are different types of Italian cuisines, usually matching their regions.  So when someone visits a town in Italy, then frequents an Italian restaurant in America, they start slashing away at the goodness because it's "not authentic" based on THEIR experience.  You must know, depending on regions and intended recipes, pastas and sauces vary!  For example, some pastas are made without eggs for storing purposes. And regarding pasta dishes, some are made with an "al fresco" outcome, using fresh tomato, basil and olive oil rather than the richer bolognese or ragù sauces.  

     At Napoli's, they definitely use the egg based pasta recipes and rich sauces. To me, it tastes authentic and fresh-made.  I have not been to Italy, but had the privilege of enjoying my ex-husband's aunt's rice and meatball recipe as well as eggplant parmigiano and lasagna.  Napoli's reminds me of her cooking. (Her sauces took at least THREE days to cook.)

     Okay so, I made it a quick 30 minute lunch and had the meat stuffed ravioli baked in a rich, savory meat sauce, with a side piece of what tasted like ciabatta bread, typically served in the Veneto Italian region.

 Baked meat ravioli with house-made ciabatta bread, with a glass of ice tea, it was $11+

This is all that was very good.  Oh, the waiter was Italian.

     Next time you're in Bixby and looking for a family friendly, GOOD Italian eatery...remember this place.  Buon appetito and Cin Cin! 

Napoli's on Urbanspoon

Separating 5 Egg Yolks with a Water Bottle

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Natural Grocers, It's Naturally Good, Now on Harvard!

     There's yet another organic food grocery store in Tulsa, specializing in organically grown and non-GMO food products. The difference is not in the quality or huge variety of's the lower prices.

     I was invited to attend the "pre-grand opening" to this super cool store.  What makes it so cool you ask? Well, for starters, it's less cluttered than the other competitors in town, but don't worry, you won't miss a thing except for the higher prices.  
The other organic-specialty stores seem to carry way too many options for each product.  

     Natural Grocers seems to carry every imaginable product, from produce to meat, dairy, even prepared grab and go from the deli.  They just seem to offer the right variety of each product. 

     They carry EVERY kind of flour needed for your special recipes and dietary needs...they even carry organic and non-GMO pre-made deserts and candies like chocolate covered raisins!

     EVERYTHING in the store is organic and non-GMO friendly.  Canned foods, health & beauty products...everything your little health-conscience heart desires.

     Oh, and for those of you who like that "junk-food" type of eats, they have that too...only it's not so bad for you.
 Canned food items
 For you Kale can buy your Kale chips already made, ready for you to enjoy!

 The best dairy products!

 Mmm, healthy junk food :-)

     Natural Grocers has two locations, the newest is just south of 31st & Harvard on the West side of the road.  Healthy eating, cheers!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Dena's Lebanese Cuisine, Simple Exterior, Amazing Food


Dena's Lebanese Cuisine located in Tulsa's Pearl District is one of the best, and most authentic Lebanese restaurants in town.

      As soon as you step into this quaint, "old-school" adorned restaurant, you'll know what I mean. It's like you stepped into a cafe in Lebanon.  Owner Ghalib Naaman, owner/chef, described some of the menu items and his fond memories of Lebanon.  I walked through the restaurants, admiring the beauty of his homeland...made me want to take a trip to see the majestic place for myself.

     After my review of the wall photos and knick-knacks, I got down to business and started chatting about food.  I asked him to prepare my to-go meal using his favorites or whatever he wished.  I know the meal consisted of a cabbage roll, and all platters come with hummus, pita bread and rice.  The meal he prepared was also comprised of soujouk (sausage), lamb and beef. It had a delicious yogurt and tahini sauce over it. And what Mediterranean meal would be complete without a pickle, to balance the rich meal out?
Cabbage roll, soujouk a lamb version of jaj b laban, served with rice, humus and pita bread.

Cabbage roll, soujouk a lamb version of jaj b laban, served with 
rice, humus and pita bread.

     This was truly delicious and I'd say it is one of the best Lebanese restaurants in town.  It's not a fancy place, nor is it in a fancy location, which means, you'll be paying for the authentic, delicious, goodness that is the food and nothing more.  Service was good and friendly.  Go by and say hi to Ghalib...and prepare your taste buds for amazing Lebanese cuisine. الهتافات وبون ابيتى! (cheers and bon appetit!)

Dena's Lebanese Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Pei Wei Asian Diner...A National Chain That Cooks Fresh as Local!


Don't judge me for loving fresh food...


     Okay, I guess it's true what they should never say "never".  I always said I despise national chain restaurants and would never blog about one. What I should have said all along is, I don't like national chain restaurants OR ANY restaurant for that matter, that serves pre-made or frozen processed foods and refuse to blog on that!

     Pei Wei Asian Diner is described as a "fast-casual restaurant concept", offering a "wok'd-to-order" menu.  It's definitely cooked-to-order, with 35 FRESH ingredients that are hand-cut daily.  I guess they know what they're doing because like their parent company P.F. Chang's, they're growing and adding locations all over the U.S. to meet the demand of the consumers.

     The newest location in Tulsa is located at 10005 S. Memorial Dr., Suite 10. So now they're located all over town...mid-town, south, everywhere! Also, they just introduced some new fall flavors to their menu:
  • Sriracha Pineapple Pork Lettuce Wraps feature all-natural, wok-seared pork and a combination of fresh-cut ingredients—pineapple, red onions, and red and green bell peppers—topped with a kick of Pei Wei’s own Sriracha sauce and served with cool, crisp lettuce cups.
  • Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps provide a light, fresh and tangy Thai-inspired twist on Pei Wei’s traditional lettuce wraps, with all-natural wok-seared chicken, and a combination of hand-chopped vegetables including red onions, red bell peppers, scallions, along with cilantro and mint, all tossed in a tangy citrus soy sauce.
  • Korean Steak Lettuce Wraps
    feature a rich, robust and fiery combination of wok-seared marinated steak tossed with fresh carrots, bean sprouts, red onions, scallions, cucumbers, and toasted sesame seeds, drizzled with a Korean red chile sauce.
     Being a crazy fanatic of Asian food, I ordered the Korean Steak Lettuce Wraps. Serious, rich, deep and spicy flavor throughout the steak, balanced with the coolness of the freshly cut veggies.  That robustious meat combined with the crisp fresh words can describe. Okay, maybe one...yummy-ness.

      I also ordered my all time favorite Thai food...Pad Thai. It's because of Pei Wei's Pad Thai that I learned to make it at home and made it my next obsession.  I still would rather get it from Pei Wei when ever possible...they make it easy to swing by and grab take out.

     You can see the spices and freshness in this Pad Thai masterpiece.  They top it with the traditional peanuts, lime and cilantro...watering mouth alert.

     So, the moral of the story...don't judge a restaurant by it's private or public status, as long as they make food fresh.  There are four locations in Tulsa now, 61st & Memorial, Broken Arrow, 35th & Peoria (Brookside) and the newest location, in South Memorial/Bixby.   ไชโย! (cheers!)

Pei Wei Asian Diner on Urbanspoon