POSTED ON JULY 21, 2010:
Cheers to the Queen
New pub offers small and big plates for the late-night diner
Ordinarily I am not a big fan of chain restaurants. They just don't seem to have that personal, individual feel you get from a locally owned place.
At first blush, Baker Street Pub and Grill seems to avoid that pitfall. It is by no means small, and you know that the owner will not be around to your table to visit with you about your meal any time soon, but all the same, it just didn't seem to have that corporate feel as much as so many places do.
We showed up on a Monday night, and it was surprisingly busy. A patio area greets you as you first approach, and it was packed this night.
All seats (probably 45-50) were occupied, including a fire pit table with a group of 15 or so telling jokes, drinking Guinness and generally having a good time. It is actually deceptively small from the outside. The only down side we could see was that it overlooks the busiest street in the northern hemisphere -- Memorial Ave. at about 68th St.
As we waited for our Triple Dipper, a sampler of queso, artichoke and spinach dip, and house made salsa with a basket of tortilla chips for dipping, there was plenty of visual stimulation. The place is full of things to look at.
The hit of the three dips for us was the artichoke/spinach dip. Warm, creamy and full of chopped "artis," it was really good.
First runner up was the salsa. Finely chopped tomatoes, almost to the point of crushed, lots of fresh flavors and seasoning with a little bit of back bite, it was refreshing. Next on the list was the queso. It was just OK, until we stirred some of the salsa in with it, and it became tasty and appealing at that point. And in last place, unfortunately, were the chips. They seemed to be made in house, but unfortunately they were stale.
I have mentioned at other times that with Tulsa's humidity, you just can't fry chips more than a few hours ahead or they lose their crispness very quickly. The whole deal was $7.99. A fair price for the amount we received, if only the chips had been crispier.
Based on our server's recommendation, I ordered the fish and chips. She claimed it was one of the two best sellers on the menu, with the Guinness Beef Stew being the other, and I always look for a nod toward the most popular items from the server.
They generally know what's best and if the management is on the ball, everything on the menu has been sampled to all the service staff for exactly this reason. Trust me, this was better than any food I have ever gotten in the United Kingdom.
Flaky white cod, dipped in a light beer batter and flash fried, it was crispy and really tasty. The fish stayed hot the entire time I was eating it. I know where I'm going when I get a craving for fish and chips again.
It was served simply with seasoned French fries, lemon wedges and homemade tartar sauce that had an excellent tang and an "herby" undertone. I'll offer one caveat at this point: I ordered the regular dinner for $9.99, and it came with two large pieces of fish.
Unless you are a huge eater, the half order which offers one piece of fish is plenty for most appetites, and at $7.99, it's a bargain.
My wife chose a lighter fare: The chicken, almond and grape salad. It was delicious as it contained nicely toasted almonds, sweet ruby grapes and tender chicken.
Other options in the salad category included all of the standards; nothing of particular creative note, but it is just meant to be pub food after all.
For a few extra dollars, you can add chicken, salmon, tuna or shrimp to any of them, but I wasn't sure why anyone would want to. All the listed entrée salads already have meat on them, but I guess you never know.
The menu at Baker Street is varied to the point of being all over the map with everything from a selection of sliders to grilled tuna or salmon, sandwiches and salads, and entrees ranging from Chicken Alfredo Pasta, Bangers and Mash, Mum's Meatloaf and others.
A variety of soups and a huge selection of appetizers as well round it out to meet anyone's needs. With the exception of the London Platter, a combo of fish and shrimp, and a fried shrimp platter, nothing on the entrée section is over $8.99. These are not portions for shy eaters, either. It's a good value.
Grilled items range from $8.99 for grilled chicken to $16.99 for a rib-eye steak with onion straws, tuna and salmon come in at $10.99, and all the grilled items come with your choice of two side dishes. A few notables are the sautéed red bliss potatoes, garlic mashers and brown sugar baked beans.
The appetizer selection is pretty extensive, and considering that Baker Street is open nightly till 2am, this is the perfect part of the menu for them to focus their energies on.
Choose from wings, calamari, Scotch eggs, a variety of dips, baskets such as jalapeno poppers, fish fingers and chicken strips, hot kettle chips and beer battered onion rings. Additionally sandwiches and sliders round out the options. A special mention about Scotch Eggs: This is a hard-boiled egg encased in sausage, then breaded and deep fried golden and crispy. Served with spicy mustard and pickle relish, this is awesome bar food.
I remember as a young prep cook having to make hundreds of these things, and I hated it. They are time consuming and labor intensive. But now that all I have to do is eat 'em? I love the little guys.
Appetizers hover in the $5 to $9 range, with a couple of sizes of wing platters a bit higher. Additionally, they offer several different sampler platters of apps, which take a lot of the indecision out of the equation.
We had a great server that took the time to explain, answer questions and generally make us feel like valued customers. All the service personnel were hustling, obviously well-trained, and well supervised in addition. The manager was on the floor at all times, and keeping a close eye on everybody.
Our waitress's stock went up a few more points when she recommended the seasonal cobbler of the day. It was peach, and it was fantastic. Hot from the oven, (the bowl was hot to the touch), topped with a big scoop of creamy, rich vanilla ice cream, then drizzled with caramel sauce, this dessert was really, really good. It had a nice crumbly, streusel type topping, and although it could have been helped a bit by a few more peaches, that was not a major shortcoming. At $2.99, this dessert was an incredible deal.
High ceilings, plenty of space and a variety of seating from booths to pub tables to English-style islands with bar stools for singles and groups, not to mention a huge bar in the middle of the room make Baker Street a unique and interesting place to be.
Knick knacks, memorabilia, posters and pictures adorn every empty space available, even in the hallways and rest rooms and I mean all the way to the ceiling. I would love the job of looking for and buying all that stuff for the company. There is some really interesting, fun stuff to look at.
A big part of the late-night attraction to Baker Street is the music and entertainment calendar. It's enough of a variety and steady influx of artists that the website has a band and event calendar listing with everything from karaoke nights with Jules to bands such as Laron Simpson and the Captain Obvious Band, Dante and the Hawks, Travis Kidd, Crossland Acoustics, Uninvited Guest and more.
Baker Street Pub and Grill
6620 S. Memorial
HOURS: 11am-2am Monday-Sunday
Prices; $5 to $16 with an average of around $8.
Food *** 1/2
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