Since 1987, Brothers Houligan has been a mainstay on 15th St., beginning as a neighborhood bar and over the years transitioning into the restaurant it is today. Melissa Mitchell, assistant manager of this location (there is also a south location at 61st St. & S. Mingo Rd.), offers a little history of the place.
"Brothers Houligan was opened by three brothers by the name of McMurchy, and Pat McMurchy is still the owner," she said, adding that the kitchen manager is another brother, Tim. She said that slowly they began serving some bar food, and it became such a success that they kept adding more items. "Soon after that, the pools tables went away" to make room for more tables to serve even more menu items.
"We have a great business," Mitchell said. "Seventy-five percent of our business is from regular customers who have been coming for over 10-20 years, and we even know them by name." She adds that many out-of-towners make Brothers Houligan their dining stop while in Tulsa. So what brings them here? Mitchell said it is the food, pointing out that one of the all-time favorites is the Chicken Fried Steak ($9.95). The menu even lauds the fact that this Steak is a "multiple ABoT (UTW Absolute Best of Tulsa) award winner."
"The steak is so popular because it is not gristly; you can cut it with a fork -- it's so tender. And the gravy..." Mitchell ends simply with a heavy sigh of satisfaction.
My visit here with a friend found us not choosing the Chicken Fried Steak, but rather we went for Deep Fried Chicken Livers ($9.25) and the Bayou Burger ($6.50). We began with the server taking our drink orders -- a beer for both. We were surprised to learn that no Marshall Brewing Company beers are served at Brothers Houligan, and moreover, wondered why only bottled beers are served -- especially since Brothers Houligan is called "An American pub." Mitchell said "we only keep a certain stock of beers that we can fit in our cooler. We have no room for kegs."
Soon, our meals were served. The Chicken Livers, classified as a Full Dinner item, is served with country gravy and a choice of Cottage Fries, French Fries or Mashed Potatoes, plus Green Beans and a choice of Tossed Green Salad, Cole Slaw, Apple Sauce or Cottage Cheese. I chose the Green Beans and Tossed Green Salad. With the Bayou Burger, under the Burger Baskets category, his meal included a choice of Cottage Fries, French Fries, Cottage Cheese, Apple Sauce or Cole Slaw. The burger is served on either whole wheat or white bun and served with all the trimmings.
Fried items are the specialties here: Deep Fried Chicken Tenders; Steak Fingers; Deep Fired Gulf Shrimp; Deep Fried Catfish; Deep Fried Chicken Livers; Chicken Fried Steak. Mitchell said what makes them so tasty and crispy is that they are hand-breaded and freshly fried to order. She did not want to give too much information away, but did say that items are dipped into an egg wash then dredged through the flour mix -- sometimes twice -- and then fried. Other Full Dinner items include Boneless Center-Cut Pork Chops ($13.95), Broiled White Fish ($11.25), Rainbow Trout ($11.25), Grilled Norwegian Salmon ($12.55), San Francisco Sirloin ($9.95) and Chopped Sirloin in Mushroom Gravy ($9.95).
The Chicken Livers were some of the best: hot, crispy and fresh. My dinner began with a Tossed Green Salad which was nondescript: dominated by iceberg lettuce, this salad also had large seasoned croutons and a side of basic blue cheese dressing. The salad was very fresh and a prelude to the Chicken Livers. The entrée plate arrived, overflowing with fried livers, a small bowl of mashed potatoes, white gravy also served in a white bowl and green beans in yet a third bowl.
The livers were very hot and over-the-top crispy: just as I like them. I found that dipping them in the gravy only made them better. The gravy was hot and creamy -- almost an elixir for me. While all is said to be homemade here, the gravy and potatoes did lack an authentic homemade flavor and feel; nonetheless, both were consumed with little effort and record time. Mitchell says "there's a secret to the green beans" which she could not divulge, although she did say the onions and bacon grease are part of the family recipe.
Cooked To Order.
My friend's Bayou Burger was described as cooked with Cajun seasoning and Pepper Jack Cheese. He said it was prepared to order: medium rare. Although it appeared to have been hand-patted out, Mitchell said they receive their meat patties from a vendor "ready to go and then season to order." She added while some establishments refuse to cook burgers other than well done, Brothers Houligan does cook to the customers' requests. This burger came with all the condiments on the side: lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions. My friend said the Cajun seasonings were light, mostly undetectable, and the cheese, also, did not add any "heat" to the burger. The large-cut crispy cottage fries were served with a bowl of white gravy.
Appetizers here are all fried items except the Back Bar Chili: Onion Rings, Deep Fried Mozzarella, Fried Shrimp Basket, Deep Dried Chicken Livers, Deep Fried Chicken Strips, Deep Fried Catfish Nuggets. Mitchells said a number of customers compare the Fried Shrimp to Pennington's, a Tulsa restaurant icon.
"We hand-butterfly the shrimp, batter them and then flash fry them," Mitchell said. In addition, she points out the steaks on the menu. "We hand-cut all our steaks and cook them to order," she said. "They are wonderful!" Top Sirloin ($9.95), Rib-eye ($17.95), Tim's T-Bone ($19.95) and Center-Cut Filet Mignon ($19.95) are the choices. "The 8-ounce filet is just immaculate," she adds.
It's a fun and comfortable atmosphere at Brothers Houligan. A small bar with TVs is set apart from the main dining area. The dining room is equipped with booths and tables, and many items to read on the walls. White lights dangle from the ceiling, bordering the walls around the dining room adding to the festive feel.
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