If you bring up the Boulder Grill menu on line, you can't help but be at least a little impressed. It's sleek, modern, avant garde cover offers a glimpse into a stylish "attitude" that carries throughout the restaurant.
The place has a very 21st century feel -- sleek, angular and crisp, with a minimalist, yet somehow comfortable atmosphere. It has a nice combination of booth and table seating, lots and lots of windows to give the traveler or the local a pleasant view of downtown Tulsa, or the afternoon happy hour folks a bright, upbeat venue for cocktails and appetizers.
Open the menu however, and it appears that they are trying to be all things to all people. I get that they are a restaurant in a downtown hotel, and that they ARE probably trying to be all things to all people, but I found the menu confusing and a bit disjointed.
The opening section, self-titled Small Plates, is anything but. We seem to have gotten away from the true definition of tapas or small plate, at least in Tulsa, and as we so often do in this country, tend to over portion everything. While there were some decent offerings: fried Tilapia bites with chow-chow tartar sauce, sweet corn tamale cakes w/Avocado and roasted red bell pepper coulis, and an Ahi sashimi with Macadamia nuts and won ton chips, the menu begins to, shall we say waver off task at that point.
There are a variety of flatbread pizzas, shrimp and grits, macaroni and cheese, a slider plate, a braised short rib with a tamale cake, a fish taco, and so forth. All range from $5 to a high of $8 for macadamia stuffed dates that were warm and tasty, with a bacon coat and brown sugar finish. Very nice dish although the macadamia was left whole so when one bit into it, it pretty much stole the show. Chopped or ground may have been a better choice. We were intrigued by the homemade tater tots for some reason, and rather enjoyed a large pile of the "sure enough homemade" little dudes, with a nice dipping sauce. There were enough to enjoy and still have 4 or 5 to go along with dinner.
Next one moves to a sandwich section that offers a large variety of burgers, clubs, and wraps. Everything from a Manchego Grilled Cheese Sandwich - Manchego cheese and tomato grilled w/Gorgonzola butter, to a Black and Blue Steak Sandwich, a grilled sirloin on ciabatta with melted bleu cheese, to a Manchego burger -- Chorizo Sausage and Manchego cheese, and in a departure from the rest of the burger sections respectable offerings a Velvet burger, an 8 oz retro-burger topped with Velveeta cheese. It's description is "A cheeseburger connoisseur's delight". Hmm.
Burgers range from $8 - $10. A bit pricey for a burger until you take into account that they are an 8 oz patty, and come with a side of either fries, sweet potato fries, soup, or a small salad and have some not inexpensive garnishes like smoked salmon, andouille sausage, avocado and bacon, and so on.
In addition to the aforementioned Black & Bleu and grilled cheese offerings, the sandwich side of the menu sports a grilled Lamb Kofta, a Smoked Salmon and Turkey Club, a Fried Tilapia Sandwich on Ciabatta, and Blackened Fish Tacos with Napa Slaw.
Everything on this side of the section is consistently priced at $9.
Drop down a section, and you arrive at a small salad box. A mere three entrée salad offerings, but they do hold their own in terms of composition.
We actually ordered the Strawberry Fields, split on two plates as our salad course while we waited for our entrees to arrive... a nice-sounding combination of strawberries, pistachios, honey/lemon almonds, feta, red onions (chunks instead of slivers) and chipotle/honey vinaigrette. At $11 it was sparsely populated with the above mentioned accoutrements, and WAY overdressed. Sounded better than it was, unfortunately.
The salad section was finished with a Steak and Feta salad and Thai Chicken offering. If they are as stingy with the ingredients as our salad was, the $13 price tag is way too high.
Now drop to the entrée section, (whew! Finally!) for a cross section of items. Everything from a baked macaroni and cheese with Parmesan crust, to the classic Charleston dish - shrimp and grits, a sliced Rojo sirloin over tamale cakes, a grilled chicken skewer with a variation of chimichurri - originally an Argentine marinade of oil and herbs, braised short ribs - the almost obligatory po' folks dish on just about everyone's menu these days, 3 rib eye items, (really? 3? No filet? No Strip?) plus the two salmon dishes Katie and I ordered. They both sounded nice enough. Hers was a simple grilled salmon filet she ordered with loaded mashers. I chose a potato crusted salmon filet with mustard crème and a sweet corn tamale cake. Both came with asparagus spears.
Unfortunately both of the salmon dishes were way over-cooked. I mean to the point of not just done, but dry done. I know not everyone likes their salmon medium to medium well, but the eating public is figuring out that salmon is much less appetizing when it is cooked all the way, just like tuna is, and for the most part people are willing to accept it that way. At any rate, it's a good idea to ask. I have stopped ordering my salmon medium because, for the most part, it comes out that way. The sweet corn tamale cake was a bit sweet for my taste, but a nice item all the same. I read it as sweet corn in a tamale cake, and instead it was a sweetened....tamale cake with corn in it. It would make a great brunch item with a maple or corn syrup over it, but really clashed with the rest of the meal. The potato crust was unidentifiable, which is to say that it was advertised as shredded potatoes, but seemed more like it was coated in potato flour. The mustard crème seemed to be...well, not mustard, and not a crème. At any rate, it got scraped off early on in the meal, and never got any attention after that. My wife was put off by the doneness of her salmon as well, and would have left hungry since she didn't eat her salad or her entrée, had it not been for the successful appetizers.
My comment about the menu trying to be all things to all people is simply this. In my opinion, and that's all it is, a separate sandwich and burger menu would allow the rest of the menu to maintain its somewhat upscale integrity, rather than looking like someone just threw a bunch of items on paper and called it a menu. It's just all over the map, and left us wondering whether we were dining out or having a late evening snack. It would also allow the kitchen to begin its shut down process earlier, if the sandwich menu kicked in at say 9 pm. And we all know that these days time is most definitely money.
The dessert menu didn't get any play with us. We were a bit turned off by the salmon, and just wanted to get home and relax. All 5 of the desserts come in at $5 each with everything from S'mores to an old fashioned Peach Slump, and others.
Entrees range from $11 for macaroni and cheese, all the way up to the low $20's for the steaks and short rib dish ($19) and the fish dishes were in the high teens. Speaking of which, the only fish on the menu was tilapia and salmon, and the ahi dish on the appetizer menu. Not particularly unique, and both the tilapia and salmon were used quite a few times. We may be land locked, but we ain't cut off! The same plane that brings in the salmon brings in lots of other stuff too.
The service was good, and the young lady was familiar with the menu and answered all of our questions satisfactorily. She was attentive without being overbearing, and helped make a not-so-perfect night pretty OK. The young man behind the bar, a large area in the front part of the dining room by the windows, was very nice and pleasant and we enjoyed visiting with him on the way out. The lobby carries on the stark but modern look and feel, (or maybe it's the other way around) and it is an impressive looking place for the vision most of us probably have of a Holiday Inn.
Boulder Grill 17 W. 7th St. in the Holiday Inn Downtown 918 585 5898
Mon -- Fri 6:30 am -- 10 pm
Sat Sun 7:00 am -- 10 pm
Food: ** and a half
Atmosphere ***and a half
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