Friends who grew up in Oklahoma City recommended Cheever’s Cafe for lunch while I was in town. When they described where it was they said, ‘just a bit north of Nichols Hill in Uptown’. There was a twinge of pride when they said Nichols Hill but it meant absolutely nothing to me. Turns out, as I googled my way to the restaurant, Nichols Hill, is the schmancy, old money area. It is beautiful and well-kept so next time in OKC, a walking tour will be in order.
The restaurant and bar are situated in a renovated Deco house; solid, dark wood bar, floor to ceiling windows overlooking the tree-lined property and a rustic but sophisticated feel. The house has history tethered to the very first child born to Oklahoma City. Generations of that family lived in the house before it changed hands in the 90’s. Much of the atmosphere is due to the admirable preservation of architectural details. A complete and interesting history is on the menu and is worth a read.
Oklahoma City is probably best known for its chicken-fried steak. I had to laugh since I was seated next to two ladies on the flight up and they spent the whole hour comparing and contrasting various venues for the best chicken-fried streak They never agreed on one place so they decided they would do two, one for lunch, another for dinner. Ah, the art of compromise.
You’ll find chicken-fried steak on the menu but Cheever’s is eclectic in their offerings, many of which are specials. I went the specials route and it was a win.
I was expecting the Potato-Sausage soup to have chunky ingredients but it was more a creamy potato base with minced sausage. And a lot of black pepper. I’d imagine some would be taken aback by the amount of black pepper but for me, it was great. Smoky sausage hit the tongue first followed by a creamy potato base. Later a black pepper retro burn started simultaneously with heat from the finishing drizzle of chili oil.
Chicken fried steaks came out for the table next to me at the same time as my Grilled Salmon Tacos. My tacos looked like an appetizer in comparison, however I barely finished them. Grilled salmon mixed with a mixture of corn, tomato, cilantro and chopped arugula in a light lime-cumin-chipotle dressing was intriguing both in flavour and texture. Spicy but not to the point it overwhelmed the main ingredient, the salmon. It was filling but not to the pants unbuttoning stage. The side ‘green rice’ tasted mostly like arugula and cilantro. I added a bit to my tacos, which was good, but on its own, it was missing something, maybe a little salt or heat.
I was on the tail end of lunch rush so it was just me and the chicken-fried streak couple to my left. Service was great, personable but not intrusive. Server was quite excited that I came from out of state on word of mouth.
Medium but it might be considered high for OKC. Soup, salmon tacos, 2 espressos – $25
I’ll definitely return to Cheever’s on my next trip to OKC, however I’m not sure I’ll ever be ready to tackle the chicken-fried steak!
Lunch: March 2015
Cheever’s Cafe | 2409 N Hudson | OKC 73103