Monday, 13 August 2012

Unlikely, yet FANTASTIC- The Wedge

I have gone to The Wedge on several occasions, but my trip to this restaurant two weeks ago took me by surprise…in a great way. The Wedge specializes in hand-tossed, fire baked pizzas. They attempt to utilize as many local, fresh ingredients as possible, and bake all their made-to-order pizzas fresh. It is a very casual atmosphere that is far from overdone. 

On this occasion, we visited the location on Western with my mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and two children (under the age of two). We were immediately seated when we arrived, and were instantly greeted by a friendly, personable waitress. After quickly bringing our drink order, she brought a DELICIOUS amuse-bouche of warm cinnamon rolls for everyone at the table, followed by a plate of dough for the older of the two children to play with. 

It was a nice touch, given that this is not a place one would expect to be necessarily “kid-friendly.” We ordered a plate of the flatbread with marinara sauce to share. It was brought hot from the oven,  at just the right temperature. The flatbread was followed by two build-your-own pizzas with cheese, garlic, and marinara, and again we were quite pleased. When the meal came to an end, the waitress packaged our left-over’s for us, and quickly brought out the check. 

My Recommendation: A great place to go as a family, with a fun, casual atmosphere. If you go, expect to spend $12-$15 for a pizza that easily feeds three adults (A very reasonable price, for such great service). They have both indoor, outdoor, and covered patio seating, and also have a location in Deep Deuce downtown (although I have not had as great of luck with the service at that location).

Overall Rating: 8.5

Disappointment Prevails-Paseo Grill

My husband, mom, and I visited Paseo Grill for my birthday dinner at the beginning of April, and were ultimately disappointed in the service and quality. 

Despite being right on time for our reservation, and the fact that they had numerous open tables, we had to wait nearly 15 minutes to be seated at our table. Once we were seated by a less than friendly hostess, the night seemed to be taking a turn for the better. The table was very private with a romantic curtain partition between the table and the rest of the restaurant, and the room was dimly lit with candles everywhere. It was a very warm, romantic, and inviting atmosphere that definitely said “upscale.”  We were immediately greeted by our server, who was both personable and timely. 

We ordered Southwest crab Spinach Dip for our appetizer, and when it arrived, we were not disappointed. The dip was extremely appetizing, with large chunks of crab meat and a wonderful kick of southwest flavor. Unfortunately, soon after the spinach dip arrived, our waiter was seated with another table, and the service took a turn for the worse. Our drinks remained unfilled, as we waited a slightly too long for our food to arrive. Given the prices and reviews, I expected excellent food and service, but was immensely disappointed. My husband’s creaser salad was nothing special and gave no value to its $10 price tag. My mother’s crab and avocado salad took on a similar role; nothing special, but overpriced. 

Yours truly ordered the Fresco Chicken Farfalle (a pasta dish), but was highly disappointed to find that it had what appeared to be canned artichokes within the pasta, which gave it a very odd taste and texture indeed. I had nothing to wash this nearly inedible dish down, because I did not get a refill on my drink until half-way through my meal. At the conclusion of our meal, we were brought a parfait (something they were giving out to every table), which was a nice touch…a little too late. Overall, I have had worse, but I have also had way better for way less.
My Recommendation: If you go, expect to spend around $30 per plate for food (unless you order a small salad) and service that is far less than extraordinary.  This is also not a great place to take kids, although has a great romantic atmosphere for a date. 

Overall rating: 4

Book Vs. Movie: Something Borrowed

Emily Giffin has a series of books including the novel,“Something Borrowed." I have read her series of books several times, and it has now become familiar and comfortable in a way that makes it ideal reading on vacation or a rainy day. Emily Giffin has an easy writing style, and plot lines that engage without requiring too much thought. Her series of books are, essentially, perfect “read for pleasure” novels. Giffin utilizes many of the same characters throughout her books, which allows her to continue plot lines throughout her series. 

       "Something Borrowed" is Emily Giffin’s first book, and by far my favorite of the series. The story line is predictable, but tried and true: an average girl falls in love with her beautiful best friend’s fiancé.  Giffin finds a way, however, to integrate new freshness into a tired plot line. Her characters are relatable, and the situations are believable. The plot is set in Manhattan, and warning…you WILL want to visit and/or live in NYC after reading this book.

Given the book’s success as a New York Times Best Seller, it was no surprise to me when I learned nearly a year ago that they planned to make this book into a movie. "Something Borrowed," the movie, was released this weekend, and it has once again brought me to question why Hollywood insists on making best sellers into movies. Newsflash: Just because it is a great book, does NOT mean it will translate well onto the big screen. To say the producers took liberties with the plot would be an understatement. There were whole characters missing, and they completely glossed over subtle nuances and details in Giffin’s book. They did get a few things right: For example, their choice of actors/actresses for the characters of Dexter and Ethan were perfect, as was the overall “look” of the settings. However, for the most part, the movie was really nothing like the book. 

The movie was not only predictable, but tired and overdone. The acting was atrocious, and the whole movie really resembled a Lifetime movie. 
My recommendation: I highly recommend the book if you like light-hearted, love story novels, but save your money on the movie. If you read the book, do it over a vacation or long weekend…you won’t want to put it down.

Overall Book Rating: 9

Overall Movie Rating: 3

Upscale Lunch: Museum Café

I recently had jury duty in the downtown OKC area, and ate in the museum café in the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. If any of you have been in the area, you have probably noticed that the selection of sit-down restaurants within a walking distance is few and far between. By default, the jury group and I selected the Museum Café, due to its close proximity to the court house. 

The museum café carries the beautiful art of the Oklahoma City Museum of Art onto your plate, with divine creations that look good enough to eat. Their lunch menu is reasonably priced for an upscale restaurant, with choices ranging from $6 to $15. The restaurant is simple and elegant with linens and fresh flowers. Their service was superb…my drink was never empty, nor was it taken from me to refill; the waiter actually brought a single serving glass pitcher to refill my glass. I ordered the salad and soup lunch special with the creaser salad and lobster bisque. The soup was artfully prepared with a pinch of caviar (although the soup itself could have used a few more whisks to properly get the butter or oil to completely reduce into the rest of the soup.) Overall it was a wonderful presentation of fine lunch menu dining that would be perfect for an upscale ladies lunch or business meeting. 

My Recommendation: Go, and while you are there check out the Museum of Art (their blown glass exhibit is simply amazing). I have also heard that they have a wonderful Sunday brunch that you may want to check out on your visit. If you go, plan to spend a little, and remember to dress business casual. 

Overall Rating: 9


Consistently Impressive: Ted’s Café Escondido

My family recently visited Ted’s Café Escondido for mother’s day, and as usual, it was a portrait of good service. For those of you who don’t know, Ted’s is a casual Tex-Mex restaurant with several locations around OKC and Tulsa. I always enjoy visiting Ted’s…in fact, you could say it is one my favorites. I have visited the Norman, Edmond, and Broken Arrow locations, but this was my first trip to the location on May & NW 68th in Oklahoma City. 

The May location is quite a bit smaller than the other locations, but was incredibly noisy inside. In addition, presumably to make up for their lack of space, they have squeezed tables into every last inch of the restaurant, so that there is limited space to scoot your chair back. The noise and space issues are the only negative comments I can say about Ted’s, which seem to be confined to the May location, as the other locations I have visited have a much better ambiance. The service at Ted’s is impeccable and unparalleled. Warning: I have never been to Ted’s and not had to wait at least 20 minutes for a table, however, I have never been sorry I waited.  You will never have to wait on your waiter/waitress to refill your drink at Ted’s. As soon as you are sat at your table, you will be immediately greeted by someone who will fill your table with delicious salsa, chips, and queso. Your server will not be far behind to take drink orders, specialty salsa and condiment orders, and bring fresh house-made tortillas. The food at Ted’s Café is always top-notch and timely. Their menu is expansive, but I usually share a Special Mexican Dinner with my husband, which ends up being more than enough food for two. Dinner is always followed by complimentary sopapillas.

My Recommendation: If Tex-Mex is your bag, then Ted’s Café is a must! They have lite portions available on nearly all meals on their menu, and prices range from $6-$15 per plate (although most of the higher priced plates will feed two people). They have several locations, so there is probably one near you. Go hungry, but plan to wait 20-45 minutes for a table (It’s worth it).


Fun for Everyone- The Paseo Arts Festival

As many of you know I live very close to the heart of the Paseo Arts district, comprised of a few blocks of art galleries, upscale restaurants, and brightly colored Spanish-inspired architecture. On a normal day, the shops, galleries, and restaurants lining the main thoroughfare keep a slow, but steady flow of customers.

However, on the first Friday of every month, Paseo hosts

“First Friday Gallery Walk,” where the local artists open their gallery doors to the public: an event that draws a bit of a crowd to the area. These events have become increasingly popular in the community, due in part to recent recognition for the area; including being named as one of the ten great neighborhoods by the American Association.

The Paseo Arts District began renovating and restoring its buildings to their former glory in 1970, and the first Paseo Arts Festival took place in 1977. Since then, the Paseo Arts Festival has grown to one of the most popular local Memorial Day weekend events, with nearly 60,000 guests over the course of the weekend. The outlining streets and main thoroughfare fill with local art, culinary creations, crafts, and live music. In addition, all the local galleries open their doors; some even doing demonstrations for the public. There is even a section for the kids with crafts, balloon art, and the most fantastic face painting you have ever seen. There is art for every taste and price point. It took my husband and me nearly two hours to see all of the galleries and booths, but we could have easily spent another two hours listing to the wide variety of musicians and live music. There are food vendors, a few small cafés (Picasso Café & Sauced), and an upscale restaurant (Paseo Grill-See Previous Post).

My Recommendation: Go, and take your whole family. Wear sunscreen, and bring something to drink (vendor food prices are similar to the Oklahoma State Fair food prices, and can get expensive). It is free admission to the festival, but be careful where you park (many places are trying to charge). Edgemere Park is walking distance and you can park along many of the streets for free. The Festival is Saturday, May 28th through Monday, May 30th. (Saturday 10am-8pm, Sunday 10am-8pm, and Monday 10am-6pm).

Overall Rating: 10


Summer Fun-2011 Twilight Concert Series

This year, the Arts Council of Oklahoma is hosting the Twilight Concert Series at the Myriad Botanical Gardens. Local performers take the stage on the Grand Lawn every Sunday at 7pm, June through August. Admission is free, and there is a wide variety of music selections from Jazz, to Red Dirt, to Reggae, all of which are performed by artists from Oklahoma. This past Sunday (June 5) was the opening event, featuring The Stringents. The audience gathered on the Grand Lawn with lawn chairs, blankets, and picnic baskets. The Stringents performed a variety of rock songs using only their...


Franchise Folly- IHOP on Classen

I have always enjoyed the privately owned casual restaurant NOT tied to a corporate chain. There is something about their charm, food, and drive to keep their customers that draws me to these places. IHop, of course, is not one of these restaurants.  Their international franchise chain of “pancake” restaurants reach across the United States, Canada, and Central America. These restaurants are typically convenient because they are placed in prime locations. They also keep niche markets that are difficult to find in private, local restaurants. Ihop, for example, serves breakfast, lunch and dinner all day and into the wee hours of the morning- a definite plus if you crave a stack of pancakes at 3am. 

My husband and I, however, did not go to Ihop at 3am for pancakes (quite possibly where we went wrong), but rather went at 10am (frighteningly normal by any standards). Given the hour on a weekend, I was surprised to see no wait at the Classen location. We were taken to a table in the back, near the kitchen, and greeted by a bored and annoyed looking waiter (let’s call him Jake) ready to take our drink orders. His lackluster approach wasn’t surprising, as I don’t really expect peppy, friendly waiters at restaurants like this, but it didn’t award him any points either. After giving him our meal orders, he annoyingly checked back what felt like every three minutes, to interrupt our conversation and ask if we “needed anything,” which we clearly did not. 

Our food arrived, and my turkey sandwich (it was brunch time) lacked presentation and quality. It was quite literally a sub roll, Kraft mayo, processed turkey lunch mean, Kraft single sliced cheese, a slice of tomato, and a piece of wilted lettuce. It came with a side, something “Jake the waiter” didn’t bother to ask me about, which meant I got fries (not even enough to cover the plate, not that I would have ate that many). Up until this point, Jake had checked on us somewhere near 8 times since we arrived at our table. Once our food arrived, however, all trips to our table completely stopped. He delivered the food, saw that I did not have but a ¼ of a cup of drink left, but never returned with anything. At all. I ate my entire meal in peace, sure, but without the hydration I so desperately desired to quench the parchedness in my throat that can only come with a dry, processed sandwich and over-salted fries. At the end of our meal, when our plates were clear, and our glasses still empty, Jake the waiter returned with the check. I asked for a “large” to-go drink to take with me, but of course he returned with the smallest cup I have ever seen (go figure). To add insult to injury, as we went to the front to pay, we realized they charged my husband some 50 cents for a slice of toast (really?!)

My Recommendation: The moral of this story is that you should stick with individually owned and operated local restaurants. If you do go to Ihop, don’t expect amazing service or food…I’m pretty sure it doesn’t exist there. 

Overall Rating: 1

PF Chang’s- St. Louis Edition

I must admit- when my coworkers suggested PF Chang’s on a recent work trip to St. Louis, I was less than excited. I had been to PF Chang’s once before, and did not come out a big fan. This occasion, however, was quite different…

The food AND the service were spectacular. Our server never missed a beat on refills and timeliness.  My coworker and I went for the menu for two, and were not disappointed. The food was brought out in perfect succession, and the Mongolian beef was simply to die for (I didn’t know beef could be so tender!) The end of the evening, however, was the highlight. We ordered the “Banana Spring Roll,” and I do not think I have ever tasted anything so fantastic (and I am not a dessert eater). This spectacular dish had the crisp of a spring roll with a warm banana center, drizzled with caramel and presented with vanilla-coconut-pineapple ice-cream. Delicioso!

My Recommendation: Go-if for nothing else than to try the banana spring rolls. The location in St. Louis had excellent service, but I am assured all locations are of similar caliber. It is a nice restaurant, so dress accordingly. It’s also priced on the high side, so be prepared!

Overall Rating: 10

Royal Caribbean – A Royal Mess

This is a story about my experience with Royal Caribbean Rewards- A royal mess by any measure…   

It all begins with the Royal Caribbean Visa Reward card (similar to most rewards cards- one point for every dollar you spend, redeem the points for free cruises or cruise merchandise). My husband and I spent three and a half years racking up the points necessary for a 4 night cruise for two. Alas, the day finally came when we met our quota, set a date, chose a sailing, and called to make the reservation. 

When I called to make the reservation, I explained to the “booking expert” that we would be redeeming our reward points for the cruise. I booked, and that would be the end of a very short, pleasant story, but that is not, of course, how it went at all…
I received a call a few days later from Royal Caribbean Rewards asking me why I booked an interior stateroom instead of the ocean view I was supposed to get with my rewards points. 

Confused, I asked why I had not been told it was included with my rewards points when I had clearly explained to the “booking expert” that I would be using a rewards coupon for this cruise. The man on the phone proceeded to explain that they were now out of the ocean view staterooms that come with the rewards, and I would need to pay an additional fee to get an ocean view… No thanks, I guess I will stick with my interior stateroom…

I called back several times to the rewards department, getting the same answer each time…They couldn’t give me what I had spent three years to get- an free cruise for two with an ocean view stateroom. In addition to that, it came to light that I was responsible for paying the taxes and fees…so much for “free...” I wrote emails to notify Royal Caribbean and visa of the issues, but never received any response. Talk about batting a 1,000…

Finally, a week before my cruise, I call the rewards department in a last-ditch effort to get what I “paid for.”  By some miraculous measure, I convinced the woman to put me through to a manager (something that had been refused in all previous calls). I was granted the ocean view stateroom…finally.

Indeed, my story would not be complete without a bit about the cruise experience itself-

As bad as booking this vacation was, Royal Caribbean did not do a great job of convincing us it was worth the effort. Getting onto the cruise ship involved waiting in two unfathomably long lines (all total it took nearly an hour and a half to get on the ship), with workers that seemed to absolutely despise their jobs. Once on the ship, things did not get much better (although the thought of a beach vacation around the corner smoothed some rough spots). Once we entered onto the ship, the only thing open was the café- which was out of nearly everything in the way of food (we had not had lunch yet, because we thought this would be open and fresh). As the cruise went on, we found the staff to be slow and sloppy. The few “free” places to eat on the ship were open when everyone was off the ship having a good time, and closed when you wanted to have that midnight snack. In addition, we were rushed from the dining room every night for the next round of guests to eat (our waiter was not only slow, but frazzled and looked like he may burst into tears at any moment). 

One of the most frustrating things for us was that the staff tended to wait around like they were expecting a tip (this was particularly true for room service).  Every time they so much as poured you a cup of water, they stood waiting. We actually were outright asked for a tip from the guy that…get this…took our luggage from the trunk of our cab (when we arrived), set it on the curb, and put a tag on it..So much for “all inclusive…” To put the cherry on top, on the last “day” of the trip, we were forced off the boat at 7:30am…Anything before 9 on a vacation, is too early to be awake… Needless to say, if I choose to cruise again, it will not be with Royal Caribbean.

My Recommendation: If you are looking for a true “all inclusive” cruising isn’t it (look for adults only or family friendly all-inclusive…I have never been but hear they are amazing). Most cruises do charge for almost everything “extra,” as well as expect tips upon concluding (Royal Caribbean actually gives out envelopes with suggested tips for its employees). All cruise lines are not equal, however, and it is best to do your research to find the one that best fits your style of vacationing. There are several cruise lines out there, and cruising can be a great way to see a multitude of destinations in one trip. 

Overall Rating: 1

Iron Starr = 4 Star’s

My husband and I visited Iron Starr Urban Barbeque for the first time the other night, and we may just be hooked. ..

Iron Starr is in the 36th and Western area, and owned by the same group that owns Cheever’s Café on 23rd and Red Prime Steak downtown. At Iron Star, they infuse trendy and sophisticated with tried and true in everything from the decorating to the food. The dining area is country chic, with dark walls, modern light fixtures, stainless steel tables, rustic hardwood floors, and old milk jugs with yellow flowers scattered throughout. Their food follows the same general path, with a wide variety of fresh seafood, smoked meat, gourmet salads, and “famous” sides all presented with a sophisticated flare.

When we arrived at Iron Starr, we were seated right away by a friendly hostess. I ordered the WATERMELON sweet tea, which was, in fact, the reason I wanted to try Iron Starr. I was not disappointed. Props to whoever came up with such a great combination; watermelon and sweet tea…who knew? I will be trying to make this concoction at home in the near future. We also ordered the Frito Chili Pie appetizer, which turned out to be like a fancy loaded cheese fries, only with Frito’s. It was spectacular, but did not go over well with my diet (but neither did anything else we ate there). We followed this delicacy with a barbeque brisket sandwich with potato salad for my husband, and a BBQ Club with fancy mac and cheese for me.  I was a bit disappointed in their mac and cheese, as it lacked flavor; however, their BBQ Club sandwich was simply divine.
Now you are probably wondering why I gave 4 star’s and not 5 in the title, given my rave above. The reason is two-fold. 1. The service was slow. The waiter could not seem to keep our cups refilled, and at one point, I refilled my cup myself. Not good. 2. I would like to propose an addition to their menu- a BBQ Burrito, not unlike that which can be found at Mesa Verde restaurant (see next review).
My recommendation: Go, but be prepared to not eat for a week to make up for the pounds you will gain with this meal. They do have salads on the menu, but who wants a salad when you can have BBQ? The prices are similar to that of a chilis, and the portions range from medium to large. And if you go, you MUST get the watermelon tea!

Overall rating: 8

Mesa Verde Restaurant- Burrito Heaven

I do love to travel, and my favorite thing to do when I am away from home is to sample the culture’s cuisine. In my travels this summer, my husband and I had an incredibly long lay-over at the Denver airport. We decided to spend some time eating at a restaurant within the airport, and so we stopped at Mesa Verde Restaurant. 

The restaurant is located in the upper level of concourse A, and unless you are a smoker, I suggest sitting on the “patio” (which is a great place to people-watch anyway). The restaurant, service, and atmosphere would not really be anything to speak of if it weren’t for a certain menu item. It is a typical airport restaurant, and from what I can tell, not part of a larger chain. It does, however, have the BEST burrito you will ever taste in your life. My husband has an eye for always ordering items that, at first glance, do not sound particularly appetizing, which is why he was the one that ordered the BBQ burrito (I had Buffalo wings which were decent at best). The BBQ burrito was amazing, (I have heard that their other burritos are quite good as well) and was enough food to feed both of us. It consisted of a large flour tortilla filled to the hilt with brisket, black beans and rice, and topped with a flavorful, tangy BBQ sauce drizzled with a white, cream sauce. It was absolutely delicious, and good enough that I had to visit Mesa Verde Restaurant again, with my coworkers later in the summer, just to get one all to myself!

My Recommendation:

If you eat here, wait for the patio seating. This may be the only smoking lounge restaurant in the Denver airport (not sure), and it is usually very smoky inside. The BBQ burrito, however, is absolutely delicious, and worth a wait. Too bad it is not a little closer to home, but should be a definite stop on your itinerary next time you fly into Denver!

Overall Rating: 8

The Sushi Guide

Many of you are already seasoned sushi fans, but several of you have been hesitant to try it. Maybe the thought of raw fish turns your stomach? I was like you, but somehow, someway sushi has become a staple in my diet.

For those of you refusing to try sushi because of the whole “raw fish” thing, there is good news: There is such an animal as “cooked sushi.” It is actually quite common, and I know several people that eat it exclusively. Look for “tempura” rolls, as this denotes that the fish has been battered and deep fried before going into the roll. You can also go with a standard “California roll,” which usually includes cooked crab meat. However, I am a big fan of raw sushi. Once you get comfortable with the cooked versions, try some raw (just don’t decide to try raw when eating at a Chinese buffet…been there, done that, and the result is not pretty). Oh, and one more thing,  do not try to take “bites” out of a piece of sushi. Learn from my experience that it is better to just put the whole piece in your mouth all at once (not a good time to be lady-like).

So you are wondering how to choose a good sushi restaurant? (Especially if you plan to go raw). Obviously, one of the best ways to find a good sushi restaurant is to ask someone that eats sushi (particularly if they eat raw sushi). Enter me.

My first experience with raw sushi (outside of the whole Chinese buffet fiasco), was with Sushi Neko in Oklahoma City. Sushi Neko is great for both first time and seasoned sushi goers. The sushi is fresh, and they have an awesome deal called a “boatload of sushi,” which is a ton of different types of sushi all laid out on a small boat placed in the middle of your table (around $40, but enough to feed 3 people). You probably won’t be able to finish it between two people, but it is a great way to try several different types of sushi without having to order a whole roll (rolls are around $6 each). Sushi Neko is not the most flavorful option, nor does it have the best customer service. On a positive note, they  do denote which sushi rolls are raw, and which are cooked, directly on the menu (making ordering much easier for those of you that stick to cooked rolls). In addition, they have a very large selection for those of you looking to try something new. 

While in Miami Beach this year, my husband and I tried Sushi Siam, which was very fresh and also had a “boatload” of sushi. (It was recommended by some locals). It was pretty good, but the service was terrible.

Recently, we traveled to downtown Dallas for a short weekend stay. While there, I wanted to get some sushi, so we asked several locals their recommendation. The hotel mentioned that the sushi restaurant across the street (Dallas FishMarket) was good, but Zenna was the best. In fact, almost every local we asked recommended Zenna. We decided to make the trek to Zenna’s for their “sushi Happy Hour,” which included $3 sushi rolls, and $1 sushi pieces. The service was pretty bad, but it’s hard to complain when your entire bill is $15. It was some of the freshest, most flavorful sushi I have ever tasted. It was so good, in fact, that we went again before we went home. 

For comparison reasons, we also tried the sushi at Dallas Fish Market while we were there. We had high expectations based on the menu prices (one roll was around $10-$13), but were incredibly disappointed. The fish was not only not-fresh, but the service was terrible. The fish tasted like it was either a) going bad, or b) was a bottom feeder. Needless to say we informed the front on our way out. They were kind enough to insist on giving our money back.

I have been craving sushi ever since Zenna in downtown Dallas, so we decided to try another Oklahoma City sushi restaurant, “In TheRaw.” In the Raw has quickly become my favorite, and I have now ate there two weekends in a row. In my opinion, they have a better vibe and a more personal experience than Sushi Neko. Their sushi is fresh and flavorful, and their prices are reasonable ($5-$7 per roll). They do not have the selection that Sushi Neko has, but their service and sushi is better (in my opinion, of course). At both Sushi Neko and In The Raw, it is preferable that you make a reservation (although I have walked-in and got a table at both), as their tables fill up fast (particularly on the weekends). 

My Recommendation: 

If you are a first-time sushi goer, and not yet ready to try the raw stuff, go with Sushi Neko. Their boatload of sushi is great if you want to experience some raw sushi, but do not know what to order, and the menu makes it easy to choose between cooked and raw sushi. If you are not afraid to try some raw sushi, or even if you only eat cooked, In The Raw is a must. Their menu is smaller, and a bit less overwhelming, and their sushi is fantastic. 

Overall Rating:
Sushi Neko- 7
In The Raw- 9
Zenna- 10
Dallas Fish Market- 1

Red Prime: Swanky Steakhouse

For our anniversary this year, my husband and I decided to forgo our usual choice of The Mantel (due to an exceptionally rude hostess),  and instead decided on Red Prime Steak House in Oklahoma City.

Red Prime is located in downtown Oklahoma City on North Broadway Avenue. It has a swank, Miami Beach feel, courtesy of the red neon lights hanging everywhere inside (It could be considered a bit tacky, but it grew on me after a bit). Reservations are a must, and I highly recommend saving this restaurant for a special occasion, as their prices are a bit high. 

The service was decent, but left something to be desired. The servers did a good job, but were not as friendly and over-the-top as you would expect given the price tag. 

The food, on the other hand, was out-of-this world, slap-your-mama FANTASTIC. They have a great “fixed-price” menu for one that allows you to get your individual appetizer, main course, side item, and individual dessert for $39. Ordering these items individually would probably cost more like $50-$80 for one. I started with the French onion soup, which was so delicious that I had to try really hard to not lick the bowl clean. My husband ordered the shrimp cocktail, and was a bit disappointed in the portion size (it came with only 4 large shrimp). This was followed by the main course- a 7 oz filet. Here is the kicker: They let you choose from an array of “crusts” and “sauces,” for your steak, thereby making a wonderful collection of combinations. I went with a brown sugar and sea salt crust (what they use to “blacken” the steak with), and a brandy and mushroom sauce. I have never tasted a steak like it. It absolutely melted in my mouth (if that is even possible). Delicious! I paired my steak with slivered asparagus topped with Italian cheese, and finished this scrumptious meal with a warm fudge brownie topped with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce on the side. Mmmmm. 

My Recommendation:

Go for a special occasion and you will not be disappointed. I am not sure what their other menu items are like (they offer some seafood and chicken options), but the steak is a safe bet. Make sure you make a reservation if possible, and be sure to tell them if it is a special occasion. Dress a little nicer, as this is not Western Sizzlin.

Overall Rating: 9

Whole Foods: A Whole New World

My husband called the other day to invite me to lunch... at Whole Foods . It was strange, at best, to be invited to a "grocery store" for lunch, but Whole Foods is not your typical grocery store...

Whole Foods is now located in OKC on North Western Ave. It can be overwhelming for any organic market virgin like myself, but the friendly, helpful staff was readily available if there were questions.

Upon arriving, it was easy to find the cafe, but it took some detective work to figure out how to check out. The Whole Foods cafe offers a salad bar, coffee bar, pizza kitchen, sandwich bar, and SUSHI. Being the sushi fanatic that I am, I chose a tray of sushi and proceeded to attempt to a place to pay for my food. It was next to impossible to figure out where to go, and equally difficult to secure a beverage. Nevertheless, I was aided by an associate, and managed to find a table to consume my selection. The sushi was OK (not the best in town, by any means). Upon finishing, I realized that there were FOUR different types of trash-cans. I do what I can for the environment and all, but this was a little overwhelming. However, the trash-cans, upon further inspection, were well-labeled, and it was quite easy to figure out where to throw-out what.

After finishing my meal, I did some grocery shopping. I have been asked by several people about the prices, and yes they are a bit higher than, say, Wal-Mart . But lets face it, Wal-Mart is an evil corporation that encourages their workers to go on welfare, which is how they offer low prices, right? (I am exaggerating, of course, but who really likes Wal-Mart? Honestly.) Everything was VERY clean and VERY fresh at Whole Foods. The layout of the store took a little getting used-to, but made since once you got the hang of it. In addition, I managed to find some variation of almost everything on my list! Finally, check-out was a breeze. For the check-out time, alone, I will pay a bit extra. I walked right up to an open line... that never happens at the dreaded Wally World. On top of that, the check out associate was FRIENDLY, and they even bagged my groceries for me... Whoa.

My Recommendation:
It is worth the added price for the friendly service and fresh food. On top of that, for you green fanatics, they actually CARE about the environment. I will be back.

Overall Rating: 7