Fans of Sherlock Holmes will recognize Baker Street as the London avenue where the fictional detective lived at 221B, an apartment 17 steps up from the street. Folks in Tulsa will identify it as a popular pub and grill occupying the old Mervyn's location at 6620 S. Memorial Drive.
Opened in Tulsa in April of 2010, Baker St. Pub & Grill is a regional chain with locations in Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado. The first restaurant was originally established in Houston in 1977 as Sherlock's Baker St. Pub, but new owners took over in 1995, revamping the brand and adding locations. Sherlock's, as well as Watson's House of Ales, another
Houston concept, aims to invoke Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 19th century characters, while Baker St. offers a more generic British pub atmosphere.
First-time entrance into the restaurant will no doubt have visitors straining their necks to see the English, Irish and German memorabilia that occupies nearly every inch of wall space inside the restaurant. Decorated in dark wood and black leather, with a large bar situated in the center, cozy booths to the south and east, and large tables in the spacious north end, the restaurant seats almost 440. The British pub environment at first seems genuine, but upon closer inspection it has a decidedly chain-restaurant feel. Though it's somewhat unique for Tulsa, it's definitely not one-of-a-kind.
Flat-screen TVs dot the space, and a stage, carpeted in flowers and lined with wooden shelves brimming with fat volumes, anchors the north end of the place. (These stuffed shelves also line the bathroom hallway, and locating the restroom door is kind of like solving a mystery.) Most nights, after about 9:30pm, the stage is occupied by local bands or amateur singers crooning to a karaoke screen.
The majority of the menu, with the exception of a handful of British pub favorites -- like Fish & Chips ($9.99 for a full order or $7.99 for a half); Bangers & Mash ($7.99), sausage with Guinness mushroom gravy, mashed potatoes and green beans; and Shepherd's Pie ($9.99), seasoned ground beef, cheddar cheese and whipped potatoes layered and served with green beans -- is pretty typical of its genre of causal chain restaurants.
The starters section offers stuff like chicken wings, served with spicy Buffalo sauce, sweet chili garlic sauce or honey barbeque sauce (six for $6.99, 10 for $8.99 or 20 for $14.99); potato skins, topped with bacon, cheddar cheese and green onion and served with Ranch dressing ($6.99); and spinach artichoke dip ($8.99).
Soups and salads consist of Baked Potato Cheddar or Tortilla soup ($3.29 for a cup or $4.99 for a bowl), Warm Bacon Spinach Salad, Chopped Cobb Salad or Chicken Almond Grape Salad (each $7.99), among others. Sandwiches include a Reuben ($7.99), the Crispy Cod Sandwich ($7.29) and the Turkey Avocado Bacon Club ($7.49).
Burgers and sliders are also offered, each for about $7 or $8, and include flavors like the House of Parliament Mushroom Burger (steak sauce, crispy onion straws, sautéed mushrooms and smoked Gouda cheese), Black & Bleu Burger (crumbled blue cheese and crispy onion straws), Southern Style Chicken Sliders (chicken sandwiches with cheddar cheese, dill pickle and mayonnaise) and Mini Tempura Fish Sandwiches (fried cod with cheddar cheese, dill pickle, lettuce and tartar sauce).
Grilled options, like chicken, salmon and steak, and Baja Tacos round out the menu.
My kids, in-laws and I joined the rest of the post-worship lunch crowd on a Sunday afternoon and were pleasantly surprised to be seated right away. We expected a packed house, but it was pretty quiet this day.
The server who seated us also took our drink order but told us another waitress would be taking care of us. Apparently, the other waitress was busy, because Emily remained our server, but we liked that just fine. She was friendly and attentive.
We ordered the Baker St. Trio -- salsa, queso and spinach artichoke dip with tortilla chips ($7.99) -- as an appetizer. The salsa was slightly spicy and tasted strongly of garlic; the queso was melted yellow cheese with what could have been Ro-Tel (though I don't know that for a fact) stirred in; and the spinach artichoke dip, though creamy, lacked flavor and artichokes. It tasted like Alfredo sauce that had been blended with chopped spinach, but I don't know that to be the actual recipe. The appetizer was OK -- not terrible, not exceptional; just OK.
For lunch, I ordered a small portion of the pub's signature dish, its Fish & Chips, offered for $6.99 from 11am-2pm. Delivered to me was a large piece of cod that had been battered and fried until crisp and golden (the full order comes with two pieces), sitting atop a pile of seasoned French fries.
The fish was tasty -- mild, firm and meaty -- and its thick sheath was crunchy and flavorful. It was delicious -- until I doused it with malt vinegar (something I usually enjoy on fried fish), which made it soggy. The fries were good but average, something I could have gotten just about anywhere.
Two in my party ordered the Turkey Avocado Bacon Club, a thick sandwich of turkey breast, bacon, pepper jack cheese, avocado and mayo pressed between two slices of wheat toast. The sandwich was tasty -- but again, sort of average -- and one of my pals was disappointed that the meager helping of avocado she was served came in the form of two thin slices she could barely taste. She also complained that it was a little dry. She did, however, enjoy the sweet potato fries she ordered as a side. We all liked those, actually.
The only male in our group (with the exception of my 3-year-old and 8-month-old) ordered one of two new specials on the menu, the Bavarian Pretzel Sandwich ($8.99): a soft pretzel bun filled with Black Forest Ham, bacon, Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato and a horseradish glaze. (The other special was the German Sausage Platter, which, for $9.99, offered one link each of smoked Polish sausage, knockwurst and bratwurst served with spicy mustard, warm potato salad and braised red cabbage.)
The sandwich was yummy. The bun was soft and sweet, with just a hint of salt on top, and offered, along with the horseradish glaze, a unique twist on what could have been a boring sandwich. It was served with fries.
Our food took quite a long time to reach our table, but our waitress stayed close by, ensuring our drinks were full and updating us on the progress in the kitchen. Her diligence and our good company kept us from complaining about the wait.
Overall, Baker St. Pub offered us an enjoyable experience. It does chain dining very well -- offering a semi-unique, though easily replicated, experience and a menu that appeals to just about any diner. Though it might not be my first choice for an evening destination, I'd choose it over another chain, like T.G.I. Friday's or Applebee's.
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