One of the most recent additions to RiverWalk Crossing in Jenks is JooJooBee's Club and Deli. While I am usually not one to sample a new restaurant too soon after its opening (at the time of this review, JooJooBee's had been open less than a month) because it is only fair to allow time to work out any "kinks" inherent in opening any new dining establishment, I couldn't wait.
A friend told me about the impending opening of JooJooBee's more than six months ago, and so I was more than eager to try it out--for no other reason, I loved the name. And what better reason to make a return visit to this riverside destination with so much potential.
A fellow journalist and I dined here for lunch recently, so with our combined backgrounds, we were ready to give JooJooBee's a close inspection. Before beginning, it is only fair to say that while the overall dining experience (atmosphere, food, service) was thoroughly enjoyable, there were some basic "new restaurant" quirks and jitters that occurred, such as when the server lost the grip of a plate of Fried Green Beans and Wasabi Ranch dressing, and the Beans, as if in slow motion, scattered across the table. Or the rather slow service (timing of foods and server business to other tables).
We are sure, that as of this writing, they've got it all worked out.
The space at JooJooBee's is impressive -- tables and booths (with high backs for privacy) enough to seat 150 guests. Outside seating is also available, with a pleasant view of the Arkansas River. The décor is in earthy shades of brown, with a mixing of modern and old at the bar. The bar is circular, with a barrel-like façade on top and bottom, with modern décor in between (blue neon lighting, a bar counter that has fiber optic multi-colored lights flickering off and on), and two, large, flat TV screens.
Our server commented that the large photographs which dot the walls were taken by a local photographer at the request of the owner to shoot scenes of Tulsa -- some pictures include angular shots of Holy Family Cathedral Roman Catholic Church, Grand Lake at sunset, a senior lady smiling, enjoying life, and more.
Soon after being seated and having taken in all the sights inside JooJooBee's, we ordered our beverages, water and Hot Cocoa with Whipped Cream ($1.95) for me.
The menu is quite interesting, nothing like I've seen before. A section deemed Small Plates are just that, but also can be appetizers. Dishes here include such interesting-sounding dishes as Baked Mediterranean dip with toasted pita and veggie sticks ($8.95); River Rolls with Avocado Ranch ($6.95); and Red Grape Focaccia with Cheese Fondue ($6.95).
Specialty Sandwiches (Muffuletta, Pork Loin & Salami, Grilled Rueben), Melts & Stacks (Open-Face Hot Stacks, Tuna Melt, Torta de Pollo, Fried Green Tomato), Salads (Chicken Caesar, Mediterranean, Gorgonzola & Dried Cherry, Over the Wedge, Avocado Tomato) and Soups are some main menu items.
A dinner menu is available after 5pm, and includes Grilled Salmon ($13.95), Grilled Sirloin ($17.95), Lemon Rosemary Chicken ($10.95), Meat Loaf ($10.95), Roasted Pork Tenderloin ($12.95), and Penne Pasta with White Wine Butter Sauce ($10.95).
For the young ones, a JooJooBee's Juniors menu of such favorites as Grilled Cheese, Junior Burger, Chicken Fingers, Macaroni & Cheese and PB & J are available.
My friend and I began with a sample from the Small Plates section, the Fried Green Beans with Wasabi Ranch ($4.95). Since our server lost the grip of our first order, sending hot, fried beans across our table, we eagerly awaited our second batch.
It was worth the wait--how better to get your daily dose of vitamin C, K and manganese in green beans than having them fried in a light batter and dipped in a tasty wasabi ranch dressing? The beans held their firmness, adding a little crunch to each bite.
We also sampled a small cup of soup--the Tortilla, which was the soup of the day and the French Onion, both $2.95.
My friend enjoyed the savory, tender chicken in the Tortilla soups, describing it as mildly spicy, light and not overly salty. Pieces of tomato, mild green chiles, and cheese melting through the soup were a nice variety of tastes and textures, she said.
The French Onion was the classis version with plenty of chopped onions, although some were no doubt from the outer ring of the onion and somewhat challenging to chew. Large pieces of bread covered with melted cheese provided the top for the caramel-colored broth below. It was an enjoyable taste on this cool autumn day.
For our "main lunch course," my friend ordered the Torta de Pollo ($8.95) and I the Fried Green Tomato Sandwich ($8.95).
The Torta was a beautiful and colorful dish to simply admire for a minute or two -- layered thin, crisp tortillas with chicken, black bean spread and Monterrey Jack cheese, topped with avocado-tomato salsa and sour cream served on a bed of lettuce and tossed in ranch dressing.
The only thing better than eyeing it was eating it; my friend said it was excellent. Each bite was an experience of tastes and textures, mildly spicy with plump, tender chicken pieces.
My Green Tomato Sandwich was pan-fried breaded green tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, herb aioli and red-leaf lettuce served on focaccia. It was served with chips and a pickle. I was disappointed with this sandwich--the lettuce was left off, and the sandwich was not only too "white" (white bread, white cheese, white sauce and whitish breaded green tomatoes), but too bland.
I could not distinguish any flavor that really stood out. The description attracted me, but the actual sandwich did not deliver the taste I was expecting.
JooJooBee's Club and Deli is an interesting addition to the slowly growing RiverWalk Crossing and while this first experience was not as smooth flowing as a more established restaurant, still, overall, both of us knew this is definitely a place to return, possibly an after work gathering at the bar for something from the Small Plates section and a cocktail.
JooJooBee's Club and Deli
500 RiverWalk Terrace, Suite 135
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