When you dine at Palace Café you know you are in for an excellent dining experience at all three realms: atmosphere, food and service. Situated on the northeast corner of 15th and Peoria, this contemporary setting is cozy yet upbeat, perfectly ideal for a relaxing lunch or dinner, with booths and tables and a window's view out onto Historic Cherry Street.
Nouveau American Cuisine is how Chef James Shrader defines his menu, featuring some sensational seasonal dishes. He recently unveiled his "autumn menu 2006" featuring such warming dishes as Pumpkin spice Chicken Fettuccini (seasoned chicken breast served over spiced pasta tossed in a sage cream sauce with fall vegetable ratatouille); Wood Grill Pork Chop (stuffed with tart apples, pancetta and bleu cheese gratinee, maple cornbread with a rum-molasses reduction); and Dungeness Crab 3 Ways (sesame rice gateau; walnut oil salad with candied sweet potato sorbet and a spoon of deviled crab).
My friend and I were eager to spend a cool, pre-Halloween autumn evening dining here, engaged in cuisine and conversation. We learned that Palace Café is Tulsa's only restaurant offering a Bento's menu--dainty pre-appetizers--defined on the menu as "a complex flavored tasty bite".
These are followed by selections from the 1st Course (Black Bean Crepes and Dungeness Crab 3 Ways); 2nd Course (Senate Bean Soup, tomato Bisque, House Salad, Steamed Leek Salad, Grilled Asparagus Salad); 3rd Course (Lobster Tagliatelle, Seared Sea Scallops, Pumpkin Spice Chicken Fettuccini); and 4th Course (Oven Roasted Salmon, Wood Grill Pork Chop, Milanese Style Rissotto, Beef Tenderloin, Braised Beef Short Ribs, and Seared Duck Breast). Selections range in price from $3 for the Bento menu to $28.
We began our evening with two selections from the Bento menu, the Sliced Duck Breast and the Shrimp-Shitake Pot Sticker. Both were "tasty bites" indeed.
The Duck Breast was delicately browned and slightly chilled with julienned vegetables (carrots, sautéed onions); the Pot Sticker was steamed and pan seared, and, with the sake sauce, delivered an immediate full flavor of savory satisfaction.
For our 1st Course, I selected the Lobster Corndog ($14)--which is most definitely nouveau cuisine. It's a bizarre curiosity, the novelty of which demands attention as an edible oxymoron.
My friend, meanwhile, ordered a cup of the Senate Bean Soup ($5), a traditional white bean soup made with vegetable stock, celery, carrot, onion and Yukon gold potatoes--and, in this election year, a Beltway (or Inner Dispersal Loop) favorite.
The soup was warming and delicately hearty, with the flavors having had time to blend and complement each other.
My Lobster Corndog came looking like a basic corndog, but it anything but basic--skewered on a stick, these pieces of lobster were coated with a sweet tempura-like batter; house made ketchup, mustard and relish were served with it for dipping.
My main course was from the 4th Course; I chose the Wood Grill Pork Chop; my friend selected one of the evening specials, the Beef Tenderloin dish with Dungeness Crab Cakes ($32). Both dishes were attractively presented.
The sweet maple aroma of my dish wafted across the table as the plate was placed in front of me, and I immediately knew I was going to enjoy these tastes of autumn.
My pork chop was moist, and I particularly enjoyed the tart apples inside--a perfect combination and very autumnesque.
The pancetta and bleu cheese gratinee was an enjoyable touch to the top of the chop. The maple cornbread won me over immediately with its sweetness and richness of maple flavor, and the intensely desirable rum-molasses reduction over it. Perfect for the season.
The Beef Tenderloin was grilled to order--medium rare--of exquisite flavor and tender texture. My friend reveled in the culinary moment and the melt-in-the mouth tenderness of the loin.
The two crab cakes were lightly breaded and fried. Potatoes--sliced into spears--were baked and came with a sweet glaze on top--again carrying the autumn flavors into the meal.
It's good to know that private dining is available at Palace Café on the second floor for parties of up to 22; diners may order from the menu or have Chef Shrader prepare a menu for the occasion. Also, a Sunday brunch features classic breakfast fare, as well as Chef Shrader's specials.
Palace Café is one of those rare dining experiences in Tulsa which leaves guests very satisfied.
1301 E. 15th
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