It was just another humdrum weeknight in T-Town, but this foodie was feelin' frisky. Somewhere a dog barked.
So I got on the horn and invited a dame with moxie to join me at a new downtown joint for a cool cocktail and some good eats. The place: Edward Delk's Bar and Restaurant at 427 S. Boston Ave. This new kid on the block is nestled discretely in the decadent Philtower Building.
Built in 1927, Philtower's beautiful architecture takes natives and even worldly molls by surprise. Ornate art deco detail can be found in every nook and cranny of the place. The building is just one of the many art deco starlets in the Art Deco district, aptly named and just in time. Exploiting the obvious is something Tulsa has come late to.
So it goes.
Walk in the heavy door and Delk's is a throwback to speakeasies and bootleggers. Tucked away into a cozy suite that can hold only about 50 merrymakers, when you hear a siren, you want to duck. How long has this place been here? Dillinger and Capone are sitting in the corner. J. Edgar just came in . . . look out.
It's the thriller inside me.
Though it obviously embraces the space's history, it's far from kitsch. Nothing is forced in this space; in fact, many layers of lavish embellishments have been removed to reveal the building's bare bones, not like it is undone as much as it is still in the building process. Notable details add life, like the delicate chandelier enclosed in a raw wire frame; and the panoramic photo of the Philtower during construction -- blended with actual architectural sketches -- emblazons an entire wall and sets the scene. Named after the architect of the building, Edward Delk's uses the architecture as more than just walls and floors -- it's the inspiration.
After settling into a cozy booth, the first order of business was to wet our whistles with some high-falutin' hooch. Edward Delk's has a variety of specialty cocktails that'll really blow your skirt up. My new favorite beverage is the Bitter Love -- a combination of ginger beer, ginger liqueur and other fizzy accouterments. The ginger spice in the Bitter Love wasn't overwhelming and would sweeten the meanest of hearts.
The Black Dahlia, The Delk and a host of other specialties feature freshly squeezed juices, imaginative liquors, and sometimes even a housemade grenadine cherry on top. So many restaurants are playing with infused "this" and housemade "that," but Delk's creative concoctions are spot-on without being over-the-top chemistry experiments. For those who don't want to hit the hard stuff, a good selection of wines and beers are also available.
Good looks and boozy goodness aside, their menu ain't too shabby either. Edward Delk's offers a robust selection of appetizers, salads, soups, sandwiches and flatbread pizzas. Even though this is a bar menu, it is definitely not typical bar food.
We eased into the evening with the parmesan chips ($3). Lighter-than-air flatbread, topped with parmesan cheese, cooked to a tawny hue was served with a chilled marinara sauce. These proved to be an excellent foil for typical chips and salsa, and for $3, they are a perfect crunchy treat to nosh. Other highlights include the Mediterranean dip trio ($12) with eggplant tahini, hummus and smoked tomato relish; prosciutto-wrapped breadsticks ($4) and Cajun pickled shrimp ($5).
My culinary canary and I agreed the wild mushroom fondue ($8) was a stand-out on the appetizer menu. Handsomely-sized wild mushrooms swam in a creamy sauce with slices of brie melted on top. When spooned onto the super-crisp herbed flatbread, the brie and wild mushrooms were an earthy delight just begging to be paired with a nice wine.
Next, tuna tartare. Tuna tartare? In a bar? You're pulling my leg! But I could barely believe my peepers when the tuna tartare ($12) appeared before me. Tuna tartare tends be a dish of miniscule proportions. Not at Delk's. A healthy mound of perfectly pink tuna topped a creamy avocado mixture, with a wasabi vinaigrette and Sriacha adding playful flourishes to the plate. The tuna was fresh, and when mixed with the buttery avocado foundation, it was downright decadent. It could've used a nice shot of citrusy acidity to make the flavors pop, and the sesame oil in the vinaigrette overpowered the delicate flavors of the tuna. But that lovely tuna and avocado was still tops in our book.
The chili-lime rubbed shrimp ($9) with avocado-corn cocktail was suggested as another favorite, and I could see (and taste!) why. A martini glass was circled with several ruddy shrimp and was filled with a corn 'cocktail' and avocado. Saltine crackers were also served with this dish, but we found them to be unnecessary and incongruous with such a flavor-packed dish. When tasted separately, the chili-lime rub overwhelmed the little shrimps, but when the corn and avocado joined the party it was a real humdinger for the palate!
The finale was the prosciutto flatbread pizza ($9) with arugula and shaved parmesan molded delicately in the middle. The crust was crisp yet chewy -- hallmarks of a great pizza crust -- and the tomato sauce had a sweet freshness that tamed the bold prosciutto on top. The arugula salad had a great balsamic vinaigrette and added a perfect peppery punch to the salty goodness of the prosciutto.
Other pizza varieties include a dainty Margherita ($8) with fresh mozzarella, tomato and basil; but I can't wait to get my meat hooks on the beef short rib pizza ($9) with barbecue sauce, cheddar cheese, caramelized onions and cilantro.
There are also several intriguing 'between the bread' sandwiches, like the housemade pastrami panini ($9) with sauerkraut, gruyere and whole-grain mustard sauce -- or get your mitts on the beer-braised short rib panini with pickled vegetables, aged cheddar and horseradish.
Enjoy these delicious vittles for lunch, too, and try the daily $10 lunch specials, like Cajun meatloaf, fried chicken or grilled salmon. Delk's also sheds the fickle hours of many downtown eating (drinking!) options, opening at 11am Monday through Friday, and 4pm to "Close" on Saturday.
At Edward Delk's the history is palpable, the menu has mojo and the cocktails are divine. Our server was cute as a bug's ear and treated us like royalty, despite the place bursting at the seams with cool cats and old timers alike. It's an appreciated addition worthy of the beautiful building it calls home. So stop in sometime, take a load off, and let Edward Delk's show you a good time with old Tulsa style.
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