What could be better than sitting on a deck overlooking the river, a light breeze blowing through where your hair used to be, a perfect sunset, your beautiful wife across the table from you and lots of folks sitting around you enjoying their favorite cocktail? The answer: not much.
I love Tulsa, and there are very few other places that I would consider living, but Austin, Texas, is one. If you have never been there, you can now get an idea of what the vibrant area along the Colorado River and Lady Bird Lake is like by heading down to Riverside Parkway, just north of the 21st Street bridge, and planting yourself on the deck of the new Blue Rose Café.
As you sit there, you can enjoy the runners, walkers and bicyclists as they go by. A large playground nearby was filled with tons of kids and families on a recent evening in late February. Some even picnicked on the lawn nearby.
Even on a Sunday night, we had about a 45-minute wait. The Blue Rose doesn't take reservations. When it's busy, you put your name on a list and sit outside at a high two-top table overlooking the river and wait for your name to be called.
Owner Tom Dittus has done it right. There is a large L-shaped room that seats a lot of folks, and the square footage doubles when the garage-style doors open up onto the deck for outside seating.
Wisely, Blue Rose's bar has an inside/outside configuration, so the bar staff can easily work both areas.
There are no pretenses here. The food is fresh, tasty and well prepared bar food and the new Blue Rose has a bigger menu than the original location on Peoria. Everything we had used tasty ingredients and didn't skimp on quality or quantity.
Our server was excellent, and it's always a pleasure to watch a pro at work. We never had to look for her, wave a finger or wonder where she was as she handles her station. As busy as Blue Rose is and promises to be, anyone waiter that can't handle a station won't last long.
We started with a basket of fried veggies. Lightly dusted in seasoned flour and flash fried. They came
burn-your-mouth-hot, and were excellent. Served with a ranch dip, they were very tasty. Although the menu touted a variety of vegetables, we only found zucchini and mushrooms in our basket, but they were plentiful and good and made a perfect combo with a cold beer.
Katie went for the classic burger, which was plump patty on a good egg bun and served with a mound of hot, crispy fries. The burger was hand-formed as opposed to a machine pressed one, and big enough that she couldn't finish it.
I picked a blackened chicken breast, coated in Cajun seasoning, topped with a grilled pineapple ring and accompanied by a small cup of marmalade. The sweetness of the pineapple and marmalade is the perfect answer to the spicy heat of the seasoning. The chicken was nicely cooked, still moist and tender, and was very enjoyable. I selected fries and coleslaw as my side dishes, and the meal was just right for a casual Sunday night on the river.
Other menu items include a variety of sandwiches, entrée salads, and a few entrees as well such as catfish, fried shrimp, steak, salmon and several chicken dishes.
I was curious about Blue Rose wasn't using the deck as an additional dining area, but we learned from our well informed server that of a plan to outfit the area with a taco stand and hot dog cart in the near future. Since the kitchen is tiny, Dittus wisely decided not to overload the back of the house with the extra demand. Smart. That wisdom could be a result of the 13 years he spent working in Eskimo Joe-land in Stillwater. If you can survive and succeed in that environment, you have to learn something.
Fried Delight. The fried veggies came burn-your-mouth-hot, and were excellent. Served with a ranch
dip, they were very tasty. Although the menu touted a variety of vegetables, we only found zucchini and
mushrooms in our basket, but they were plentiful and good and made a perfect combo with a cold beer.
A bonus area sits on the acreage, a short walk from the bridge that takes you over to the Blue Rose. It's called Elwood's, named for the penguin mascot associated with Blue Rose, and offers a quick-pick menu of sandwiches and beverages geared toward the busy passer-by as well as the folks looking for a simple meal before or during the outdoor music offerings planned for the venue.
There are some really fun items on this menu, including The Hanson, The Teddy Jack Eddy, The Mazeppa, and others that conjure up old memories. Others include the Naked JJ on the Run, and the Woody, which also may conjure up memories for some.
There's plenty of parking but both The Blue Rose and Elwood's are a short bike ride for most mid-towners and once the river trail is completed will be an easy ride for anyone. The Blue Rose Café is a great place, and a great way to spend some leisure time.
Blue Rose Café
1924 S. Riverside Parkway
11am to 2am seven days a week
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