POSTED ON MARCH 13, 2013:
Height of Elegance
And satisfaction for the inner carnivore
If I were craving a fine steak dinner, there are just a few restaurants in Tulsa that would come to mind. Fleming's is one of them. From the impeccable table service to the excellent meal, Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar is a place for special occasion dining or simply a place that brings out the carnivorousness in all of us.
My preference is usually not corporate chains, but this one is an exception. Not only does their outstanding wine collection include 100 wines by the glass, but their menu of steaks, seafood, and pork chops is one of the best. Gene Mozingo, operating partner, gave a little history of Fleming's origins. In 1998, he said, "founders Paul Fleming and Bill Allen envisioned a restaurant that would depart from the traditional steakhouse and still provide a highly sophisticated yet comfortable environment. ... We think of ourselves as the 'elegant evolution of the classic American steakhouse.'"
Mozingo added that Chef Austin Terry and his team begin early each morning baking fresh sourdough bread, desserts, dressings, and sides from scratch.
My guest and I were warmly greeted by name when we arrived. We were led to our table and very soon our server greeted us. We were offered to review their award-winning wine menu on an electronic device or the old-fashioned way, on the "hard copy" wine menu. I chose a glass of Red Diamond Merlot ($8 glass/$32 bottle) while my friend chose the 14 Hands Cabernet ($8.50 glass s/$34 bottle). Both were well received.
In reviewing the menu, we noticed a new option called Small Plates with items such as New Bedford Scallops, Braised Short Ribs of Beef, and Colossal Shrimp Skewers. Mozingo said Fleming's now offers these as a way to "allow our guests to sample multiple items from the menu at a smaller portion size and price point." Prices range from $16.95 for Seared Ahi Tuna to $23.95 for Fleming's Lobster Tempura.
Other menu items include Appetizers (such as French Quarter Barbecue Shrimp, Pan Crisped Pork Belly, Roasted Mushroom Ravioli); Salads (Modern Caesar, Heirloom Tomato and House-Made Burrata, The New Wedge, Fleming's Salad); Prime Rib Dinner (which is only available on Sunday); steaks (Main Filet Mignon, Petite Filet Mignon, Newport Filet Mignon, Prime Ribeye, Prime Bone-In Ribeye, Prime New York Strip, Porcini Rubbed Filet Mignon, Peppercorn Steak); seafood (Barbecue Scottish Salmon Fillet, Broiled Pacific Swordfish, Alaskan King Crab Legs, North Atlantic Lobster Tails); Double Tick Pork Rib Shop; Double Breast of Chicken; and sides (from my favorite -- the Fleming's Potatoes -- to specially prepared staples such as spinach, corn, green beans, and others).
We began with an appetizer, the Tenderloin Carpaccio ($14.95) with caper creole mustard sauce and red onion. This dish of raw meat (sounds less appealing than its Italian moniker) was beautifully arranged: very, very thinly sliced tenderloin pieces spread fully across the plate with the mustard sauce zigzagging across the beef. Toasted bread rounds fanned one side of the plate and the center was a delicate mound of freshly sliced basil and shredded boiled egg. Capers and red onion were also part of the dish. The meat had an incredibly fresh taste and was almost better eating it without the toast.
COURTESY/FLEMINGS PRIME STEAKHOUSE AND WINE BAR
Service at Fleming's is one of its best features -- the servers almost intuitively know what to do and when, but with our server, knowledge on wines was not her strong point, and the service was good, but not great. Mozingo said Fleming's "seek out candidates with a passion to serve during the interview process. Then it's simply a matter of delivering on our promise to provide 'genuine hospitality.'"
"And honestly, that's the easiest part of my job," he added. A number of other servers attended to us that evening, almost invisible as they came and went. A nice touch when dining.
For dinner I chose the Petite Filet Mignon ($39.50) and my friend the Prime Ribeye ($46.95). Most diners would not consider ordering a side of potatoes for $10.50, but knowing that the sides are served home style in larger portions to share makes it more tolerable.
Mozingo said the potatoes are "our take on traditional scalloped potatoes with a little jalapeño added for just the right kick, and hands down the most popular side dish." Fleming's Potatoes are like no others I've had. Thinly sliced potatoes are layered with cream, scant jalapeños, and cheddar cheese, and then baked to an unforgettable tasty take on the simple spud. I particularly enjoyed the crispy top layer of cheese.
The menu explains their beef as "USDA aged Prime beef." Each steak is "individually selected, seasoned with kosher salt and black pepper then broiled at 1,600 degrees." My filet rested on a plate all alone with only a sprinkling of a green herb around the plate. It was prepared medium rare as I asked, and it was just shy of perfect.
My guest's prime ribeye was large and almost filled the plate. It was very good, but not the top he's had. It was prepared simply and perfectly. We also shared the Sautéed Spinach ($8.95), again a pricey pick, but a very good one. The red onion and bacon complemented this green.
Our server asked for our dessert order just as our dinners were place before us. Odd, we thought. She did say that if we wanted a few options, they take time to prepare. I went for the berry cobbler with Chantilly Cream (sweetened whipped cream). It was fabulous: fresh berries with a thick, crispy topping. Great with the cream. Mozingo said that while it is a good option and a favorite of his, the most popular dessert is the Chocolate Lava Cake.
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