POSTED ON MARCH 28, 2012:
Let's Meet at Our Bar
Brookside favorite spot re-imagined with panache
There are those decadent days in Tulsa that one word echoes in the hallowed halls of offices and our inner thoughts: patio. 'Tis the season when the thirsty and hungry masses seek the refuge of al fresco food and drink. On one of these blessed days, a sunshiny dining pal came along to soak up the best patio real estate on Brookside, the R Bar & Grill.
You've been there before, I assure you. Blue Rose Café was once its name, in recent memory, but oldtimers recall it was once the location of a Shakey's Pizza. Later on, Tampico Bay, and most recently Bruhouse. But this is truly a whole new landscape. The indoor is completely rearranged with a completely new look. Think upscale tavern or a polished pub. But the patio is where you want to perch, because everyone knows, beer tastes better outside on a gorgeous day.
Brooksiders have quickly taken notice of the rebirth of this space. A big part of this metamorphosis lies not in décor or architecture, but in drink selection and menu. A staggering selection of luscious brews is available on tap or by the bottle, starting around $4. The wines are respectable, and though they are developing a signature drink selection, if you can dream it their able bartenders can make it. Drink in hand, sunshine on face? Check. But my lovely dining companion and I began to feel a bit peckish and R Bar's menu really tickled our fancies. Appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches and entrees made for a well-rounded menu.
The menu has a variety of tempting appetizers, but one sounded so exotic it could not be ignored. Okies love their cheese fries, but so do Canadians? They call it poutine up North and R Bar's version ($7) had delicately hand-sliced fries covered with cheese curds and -- drumroll please -- brown gravy! A huge plate of crispy, fresh potatoes were dotted with chunks of cheese curd (more delicious than it sounds) and doused in savory, beefy brown gravy. As much as we didn't want to like it, somehow half the plate of fries disappeared. How do you like your cheese fries now, eh?
To atone for the gravy and fries, we ordered the Chimichurri Shrimp ($13). This was a great bar appetizer. Two skewers with three healthy-sized shrimp each were drizzled with chimichurri -- or an herb mixture of parsley, oregano and garlic. It came with a creamy remoulade with a few dashes of caper and a roasted lemon. The shrimp was ultra fresh, cooked well and all the flavors had a nice, clean finish. With a great glass of wine, of which R Bar has many, this excellent is patio fare.
R Bar also has some excellent flatbread pizza options. I didn't get much further than the Prosciutto, Fig and Goat Cheese Flatbread ($11). Prosciutto and figs go together like peanut butter and jelly. But this ain't your gramma's Fig Newton. Throw in some goat cheese and some fried sage, you've got a real party. The flatbread was exactly that -- flat and bread-like. But was an excellent delivery system for all that flavor. We were joined later by more masculine reviewers, and the B.E.T. ($11) -- Bacon Egg and Tomato -- pizza was an immediate choice. An over-easy egg is laid gently on a flatbread which is covered in bacon, cheese and cherry tomatoes. Once you let that yolk free, it becomes a delicious glue that holds the other flavors together. One might say an additional egg might be nice for a pizza this size. One might also say that moderation is also a healthy practice. I, however, err on the side of 'delicious' most frequently.
It was now time for the main course -- the piece de le resistance: Chicken and Waffles ($13). Sure, it sounds deviantly decadent. Maybe you haven't had it before, but R Bar's is a must-try, no matter how much your mind's tellin' you no. Because once you see this luscious piece of chicken breast coated in its perfectly-crunchy crust, it whispers to you "yeah, that's a bacon waffle lying next to me and that's a honey pecan drizzle absolutely all over me. Let's do this."
It goes against every diet plan from Jenny to the Watcher's. But what about the carbs, the "points," the fat and the comingling of breakfast with dinner?! Just relax. The R Bar's chicken and waffle moves in slowly and says to you gently "shhhh, just let it happen."
This is not my first chicken and waffle wingding and I daresay it is the best in town. Bold words I proudly stand by.Why the bacon waffle wasn't dessert enough just tells you the dedication we had to providing a thorough review. The maple soaked donut holes ($6) on the menu made me giddy. Perfectly fried, dusted with sugar, they had a great texture. An extra dose of maple syrup wouldn't have hurt this fat kid's feelings, but I digress.
The honey and cinnamon crème brulee ($5) was as delicately flavored as a first kiss. The creamy custard was the perfect brulee body and the brittle layer of sugary goodness atop complimented the lovely bouquet of honey and cinnamon.
Like most places on Brookside, timing is everything if you want to find a table or have full attention of your waitstaff. R Bar is popular, and there are some nights that it would be a battle to stake your claim on patio property and service may become understandably intermittent. However, when you're lounging on a patio with good friends, great drinks and tasty food, maybe it's not so bad to just take your time and drink it all in.
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