Posts Tagged ‘Oklahoma City’

Golden Corral, Oklahoma City, OK (Warr Acres)

2 January 2013

Golden Corral Buffet & Grill on Urbanspoon

We used to eat the Golden Corral what was on May Avenue, but it was closed and replaced with this location a couple years ago. Since we don’t go out on NWX very often, it limits the opportunities. This evening, the first three (!) restaurants we tried were closed due to New Years Day, so we decided to hit GC.

It was a mixed experience. I don’t like their “steak” to begin with; it’s a cheap roast cut. There is usually a lot on the buffet that is good. Today, not so much. Now, it was very busy. They could not keep fried chicken on the line. They ran out of the slider burgers repeatedly. Even the usually very good pot roast was in short supply. I didn’t like the looks of the tex-mex taco stuff. Everyone ate their fill. I usually don’t get dessert, but wanted some today, but the desserts were pretty much stripped bare; I ended up with some banana pudding.

The iced tea was kept fairly filled, which was nice. Our check was $46.35, which I would say isn’t bad for a buffet, except in this case there were some lacks. We got there around 1545 and left around 1645. It was very crowded.

Freebirds World Burrito, Oklahoma City, OK (Belle Isle)

2 January 2013

Freebirds World Burrito on Urbanspoon

I ate at a Freebirds in Richardson and liked it. I noticed that one had been put in at a former Moe’s near a Wal Mart we frequent, and so Erin and I had late lunch there yesterday.

Erin got a standard chicken burrito. I had a burrito bowl with double ground beef. Both of us had queso (which costs extra, hmmm). We also got chips and salsa and chips and queso. She ate every bit of hers. I ate most of mine. I liked it, but it seems a little dry/congealed. I also noted that the queso that came with my chips and queso was extraordinarily thick (it broke most of the chips I tried to scoop it up with).

The staff was super friendly. The iced tea was excellent. Our order was $23.99. Good stuff.

Rudy’s BBQ, Oklahoma City, OK

2 January 2013

Rudy's "Country Store" and Bar-B-Q on Urbanspoon

I didn’t even know that a Rudy’s was coming to north OKC. Raegan and I ate dinner here last night. Rudy’s is different a bit in that the meals are ala carte. I got a half pound of moist brisket, and she got a half pound of turkey. The brisket was excellent, just a bit fatty, tender, and nicely smoky. The turkey was a bit bland, and had a distinct black pepper taste. We got some creamed corn (decent) and pinto beans (decent). The tea was excellent. It was a LOT of food.

The one thing about Rudy’s is the sauce. The Sissy Sauce is bland, very bland. The mild sauce has a bit of a not-entirely-pleasant aftertaste to it. The hot sauce is stupidly, taste-destroying hot. I blended the mild and Sissy and got a decent flavor, although it still had the aftertaste.

Our check was $28.11. Quite a bit for two, too much food for two to eat, but probably better for the four of us. I’m glad Rudy’s is in north OKC. Between JT’s, Earls, Billy Sims, and Rudy’s, we are in good shape in OKC, BBQ-wise.

Luby’s Cafeteria, Oklahoma City, OK

14 December 2012

Luby's Cafeteria on Urbanspoon

We had late lunch here last Sunday with Raegan’s parents to celebrate her Moms birthday. It was pretty good! Everyone but Ian and I got fish, and ate every bit of it, so it was pretty good. Ian got a CFS, but didn’t like it very much. I got baked chicken, mashers, and green beans – excellent.

Service was a bit slow (I ran out of iced tea three times). We got there at 1415 and left at 1515. A good visit.

Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Oklahoma City, OK (Northside)

14 December 2012

Five Guys Burgers and Fries on Urbanspoon

Ah, this location opened up very recently on Memorial Road in North OKC. I had dinner here last night, got there around 2005 and left at 2045. It was an as-expected meal. The bacon cheeseburger was perfectly cooked, and the fries were wonderful. All hot off the grill and fryer.

They had Gold Peak tea (not horrible, but PLEASE brew real iced tea!), and decent soda. They had a wifi AP, but it was protected, and none of the staff (I asked three people) if the wifi was for customers. Staff was friendly. My check was $15.15. This restaurant might be just a bit too close to my house :).

IHOP, Oklahoma City, OK (NW Expressway and Classen)

13 December 2012

IHOP on Urbanspoon

We had dinner here this evening. Or rather, breakfast. It was a very good meal. Ian got biscuits and gravy with eggs. Raegan and Erin and I got eggs and bacon and blueberry pancakes. All of this was excellent, hot and tasty. We got there around 1745 and left around 1845. Service was prompt and accurate. Our check was $49.62. Great stuff.

Good Gravy Diner, Oklahoma City, OK

7 December 2012

Good Gravy Diner on Urbanspoon

I love gravy. How could I not try a place that features 15+ different gravies? I had lunch here today since it was more-or-less on the way between the airport and home.

I got there around 1315 and left close to 1400. I got the (hand breaded) chicken fried steak, mashers, and green beans. The green beans were pretty good. The mashers were excellent; there were a lot of them, and they were, shall we say, lightly mashed, which wasn’t a bad thing at all. Then there was the CFS. It was almost perfect. The breading was a good complement to the beffy, tasty, fork-tender beef. That was a CFS I could have cooked at home. The only thing I counted the CFS down was that the thing was just a little overcooked (or possibly, the oil it was cooked in needed to be changed or filtered). But that was minor. To finish it off, the CFS, which defaults to cream gravy, came with sausage gravy at my request, yum! Since the CFS was a lunch special, it came with dessert; I chose a cube of yellow chocolate cake that was very good.

The tea was perfect, great stuff. Service was fast and very friendly. My check was $10.82. I will be back!

Charleston’s, Oklahoma City, OK (Meridian Avenue)

6 December 2012

Charleston's (Meridian Avenue) on Urbanspoon

We had early dinner here last Saturday, after the family picked me up from the airport.

We’ve been eating at Charleston’s for a long time, all the way back to the mid-80s. They use to have some of the best steaks around, and a wonderful BBQ chicken. Both of those disappeared for some reason, and we stopped going to Charlestons regularly. We go every once in a while still.

This time, we all started with the wonderful baked potato soup. We got a house salad (with the outstanding creamy garlic dressing), a CFS, baby back ribs, and a platter of chicken strips. The salad and strips were great. The CFS was a bit too peppery, and a bit tough. The baby backs were OK. We got some extra croissants, which are great.

Service was very good, as is typical. The tea is great and kept refilled. We got there around 1630 and left about 1730. Our check was $97.54, kind of expensive. The soup was $12.00 of that, and the baby backs $19. I don’t think the baby backs were worth that price.

Subway, Oklahoma City, OK (May and I-44)

6 December 2012

Subway on Urbanspoon

This location, which is inside a Circle K, is our go-to location when I pick up lunch for Raegan and Erin. I cruised by and got lunch back on 12 November, but I just found the receipt.

We got a pair of turkey clubs on wheat, and a meatball on wheat. The sandwiches were perfect. I really like it when the sandwich is made right in front of you, as it’s pretty much impossible to mess up.

So I was in at 1132 and out five minutes later. The three combos and some cookies set us back $20.21. The restaurant is always clean and the sandwich builders fast. Recommended.

Cattlemen’s Steakhouse, Oklahoma City, OK

18 November 2012

Cattlemen's Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

Cattlemen’s, of course, is an OKC institution. Given that, we don’t go here very often as it is really off the beaten path as far as our usual Oklahoma City trails go. Last Friday, we decided to meet there as Erin was finishing piano practice near Belle Isle, and I was returned a rental car to the airport after a trip to Dallas.

We got there around 1800 and left about 1945. The place was pretty much filled up at 1730, and we had a 20 minute wait for a table. Our table was in the back of the restaurant, and we were about 30 feet away from the door to the smoking area. One note here: when we were seated, there were only three people in that room, and around the end of the meal, it was full. There was so much traffic in and out that we had smoke smell for a bit while we were having dessert and waiting for our check. Be aware if you are smoke sensitive.

Raegan and Erin got salads with the famous Cattleman’s dressing, which I do not like at all. They didn’t eat much of it either. Ian and I had steak soup, which was very good.

Raegan got the salmon and liked it. Erin got a chicken fried steak but didn’t eat much of it (she was tired after a long day). I tried her CFS, and it was quite odd tasting. The odd flavor (in the breading) masked most of the beef flavor. I had another bite with just the steak, and it was pretty decent. So there was something in the breading that was weird. Ian and I got steak; he the ribeye, a t-bone for me. Knowing they use a super hot grill, we ordered them medium rare, and they came just that way. Letting the steaks rest at the table got them to a nice medium. Ian inhaled his. Mine was left as a piece of denuded bone. Great flavor and very tender, an excellent steak. I finished mine while Raegan and Erin had slices of chocolate and lemon pie.

Our check was $97.85 (big steaks and salmon add up fast). It was worth it, though. The tea was a little weak. Service was pretty good in spite of the restaurant being completely full. I need to go here more often. The last time was when Raegans brother was in town about six years ago. We shouldn’t wait that long again.

Panera Bread, Oklahoma City (NW Expressway), OK

18 November 2012

Panera Bread on Urbanspoon

Raegan and Erin and I had dinner at this Panera Friday evening. The food was great, the service quick and the order right on.

Erin got a grilled cheese with bacon and a cup of broccoli cheese soup, Raegan got a bowl of clam chowder, and I got a Pick 2 with the cuban chicken panini and chicken noodle soup. All of this was consumed with nothing left. ‘Nuff said.

Our check was $29.36. We were in an out in about 40 minutes. The iced tea was excellent.

I appreciate the fact that Panera uses plastic #1 cups and lids that can be recycled.

Johnny Carino’s Italian, Oklahoma City, OK

10 November 2012

Johnny Carino's Italian on Urbanspoon

We had dinner here last night at Erin’s suggestion. We got there about 1830 and were immediately seated.

Ian got fettuccine al fredo, I got chicken fettuccine al fredo and a caesar salad, Erin got chicken parmesan, and Raegan got chicken marsala and a caesar salad. To keep the story short, all excellent. Raegan and Erin ended up bring half of theirs home (I just ate Erin’s takeaway for lunch, yum!). The bread was wonderful, the iced tea excellent. The only slight downer was that it took about half the meal before our requested balsamic vinegar was obtained (I say this deliberately, I asked the patrons at a nearby table for theirs as they were waiting for their check).

Our check was $60.45. Great food and decent value.

Custino’s Italian Kitchen, Oklahoma City, OK

7 November 2012

Custino's Italian Kitchen on Urbanspoon

This place is really in the Village, I think, but whatever. My friend Mark recommended it to me, and it was a good recommendation. We ate there last Tuesday evening after watching Erins friend Olivia act in a play. We got there at 1900 and left about 2000. Erin and I got the fettuccine and chicken al fredo. It was excellent! The al fredo was not heavy like some places make, which was nice, and the chicken was sauteed (BTHOO grilled) and very tasty, and the noodles were perfect. Raegan got cheese ravioli and liked them, taking the extra home. Ian got chicken parm. I also got a spaghetti and meat balls for home (never mind that I ate 70% of it in the restaurant 🙂 ). The marinara was a little sweet for my taste, but it was still very good. The meat balls were also great!

A great meal, and a great value! Our check was 44.43, for five entrees. I’m already looking forward to going back.

Jimmy’s Egg, Oklahoma City, OK (Classen)

28 October 2012

Jimmy's Egg on Urbanspoon

Raegan and I had breakfast here today with our friend Jim and his mother, who were visiting from Fresno, and several other friends. We got there right at 0915, and surprisingly enough, were seated as a party of seven almost immediately.

Raegan had a standard breakfast of eggs and bacon and such. I had the biscuit debris, with two eggs over easy dumped right on top. It was delicious! The mixture of hash browns, ham and sausage, the eggs, biscuits, and sausage gravy was wonderful. We had milk, OJ, and iced tea to drink, all great and cold. Raegan and I also got a single pancake, it was gone before we knew it.

We left at 1015 as we needed to be at St. John’s. Our check was $24.50. Service was very good in spite of the fact that the place was so busy. The meal was great, the company better, and I would gladly eat here again.

Ann’s Chicken Fry House, Oklahoma City, OK

27 October 2012

Ann's Chicken Fry House on Urbanspoon

Raegan and I ate at Ann’s many years ago; it was when restaurants were 100% smoking, and we never went back. I’m always up for a CFS, though, and I noted that Ann’s does fried chicken as well, but only Friday and Saturday. So last night, we needed to find someplace to have dinner that was close to school, since we were going to the Fall Carnival afterward, and I decided we would try Ann’s again.

First thing we see is the “Cash Only” signs. I just don’t think places that don’t take plastic really want business. Frankly, I’m willing to oblige that, but I’m usually going to try the place once. Raegan and the kids went in and started our order, and I drove across 39th to an ATM and scored some cash.

Ian and I got CFS, Erin got a bowl of chili, and Raegan got the fried chicken. All of us but Erin got a salad, which consisted of iceberg lettuce, and a garlic ranch dressing (that was serviced in such small quantity that I had to ask for more). The dressing had so much garlic that I’m certain that Dracula would keel over if he bit one of us. My summary of all these meals is… “meh”. The CFS was tender enough (the gravy was better than average), but it had little flavor. The chili had zero heat, and not much flavor. The fried chicken had a lot of stringy meat, had been fried a touch too long, and was short flavor. In short, not a bad meal, but not a good one, either. I got mashers and pintos as my sides. Meh. Ian got mashers and corn, he liked it. Raegan got mashers and okra, and said they were OK. The tea was OK.

If you know me, you know I can put some food away. I didn’t finish my CFS here. I also had some of Erin’s chili, and one of the pieces of chicken Raegan ordered. I didn’t finish those, either. I just didn’t have any motivation, flavor-wise.

Our table was borderline uncomfortable to sit at; Ian and I were so close that we were mashing elbows. Service was pretty good. The meal was just boring. There was a distinct lack of flavor. So my recommendation is to avoid Ann’s. There are far better CFS to be had in the area, and they actually want customers. Our meal was around $46.00.

Johnnie’s Charcoal Broiler, Oklahoma City (south), OK

23 October 2012

Johnnie's Charcoal Broiler on Urbanspoon

I was really surprised to realize that I hadn’t written about Johnnie’s. We eat at the location on Britton fairly often. A couple weeks ago, I was running an errand along I-240 and needed lunch, so I hit Johnnie’s. I got there at 1115, and about two minutes later a line stretched out the door. I ordered a double chili cheeseburger and fries, with iced tea. The cheeseburger was very good. It was medium well, not too greasy, and with just the right amount of cheese, and chili. I like both their fries and onion rings.

My check was $10.50. An workmanlike cheeseburger, just the right amount of food, and in and out in good time. Recommended.

Subway, 122nd and I-35, Oklahoma City, OK

20 October 2012

Subway on Urbanspoon

I don’t usually review fast food places. We have run up to the Subway here more than once as it is closest location to our house. We did this afternoon when we had a lot going on at the house, and wanted good food fast. Raegan and I got ham and turkey sandwiches, and Erin got a ham and cheese. The sandwiches were done just as we asked, and were excellent as I suspected they would be.

The product quality at Subways is consistently excellent. I’ve had them all over the country, even in small towns out in the sticks, and have never, I think, had a bad sandwich.

Barry’s Grill, Oklahoma City, OK

18 October 2012

Barry's Grill on Urbanspoon

I’ve driven by Barry’s about a million times since 1984. I decided to try it Tuesday, and I’m glad.

I got a jumbo cheeseburger, which is a double meat cheeseburger, mayo and lettuce, and fries. That was one fine burger! The beef had great flavor, and the burger was cooked perfectly, with a nice crust, good texture, overall excellent. Not too greasy, either. The fries were very good. Clearly real potato, thick sliced, and deep fried. They probably could have spent a bit more time cooking, as some of them were a little “bare” and not cooked all the way through. They have a soda fountain, and unsweet iced tea.

I got there around 1150 and left at 1225. My check was $10.22. I will gladly go back.

Little Mike’s Hamburgers, Oklahoma City, OK

13 October 2012

Little Mike's Hamburgers on Urbanspoon

Raegan and Erin are at camp this weekend, so Ian and I went looking for dinner they would not necessarily like. We decided to try Little Mike’s.

OK, first of all, if you are in the slightest bit liberal or independent politically, and thin skinned, you probably won’t like this place. The owner, presumably, is quite conservative, sells anti-Obama t-shirts, and has the walls plastered with anti-liberal papers, quotes from the Founding Fathers, and the like. Regardless of his political leanings, the food is darn good!

Ian got a cheeseburger, and I got an onion cheeseburger. Both of us got the half pounders. The beef was excellent, great flavor. The burgers had a nice crust on them, and the texture was very nice. The onions on mine were cooked completely (one of my big gripes about onion burgers are undercooked onions, not a problem here). The meal came with fries, rough cut, a bit greasy, but good stuff. They only have Gold Peak tea in concentrate, so we got Coke, which was pretty good.

Little Mike’s is in a strip shopping center; we’ve driven past it numerous times and not noticed it. It’s worth a drive if you want to ignore all the political stuff.

We got there around 1640 and left at about 1730. The check for the two of us was $22.00. Good stuff.

Bubba’s Bub-Ba-Q, Oklahoma City, OK

3 October 2012

Bubba's Bub-Ba-Q on Urbanspoon

I’ve driven past Bubba’s many times over the past year or so. Two weeks ago, Ian and I tried it while Raegan and Erin were at a Girl Scout event.

Ian got a rib dinner. I tried one of the ribs, and was impressed. On a scale of 1 to JTs, the rib was about a 9! It had good crust, decent flavor, and was tender. I could eat more of those. Ian got baked beans and fries; he didn’t like the beans, and ate all the fries.

I got brisket and chicken. Overall excellent. The meats were smoky, tender, and moist. I got baked beans and mac and cheese and liked all of it.

The tea was self service. Our check was $38.15. Bubba’s is good stuff, I will gladly eat there again.

Mimi’s Cafe, Oklahoma City, OK

3 October 2012

Mimi's Cafe on Urbanspoon

We like Mimi’s. We ate at the location on Memorial recently. It was a typically good experience. We got there about 1730 and left just after 1900.

I got the turkey and dressing dinner. It was excellent, with a lot of turkey that was flavorful and juicy. Erin got a fish dish, Ian got country fried steak, and Raegan got soup and salad. All of this, and the service, was excellent. We like the small basket with a variety of breads.

Our check was %58.33. The iced tea was excellent and kept refilled. We will be back again.

Whataburger (N May), Oklahoma City, OK

3 October 2012

Whataburger on Urbanspoon

My last experience with Whataburger was not pleasant. My good friend Gary and I had departed my night shift computer operator job at Tayloe Paper in Tulsa, OK, about 2200, and went to a Whataburger just north of the place. At that point in my life, I was living about 80% off of McD Quarter Pounders with Cheese. Anyway, Gary and I went to Whataburger, I had one, and I became very, very ill. I didn’t like the burger, either :). I’ve not been back since. That was 1980.

Fast forward to 2012. A car dealership across the street from St. J was torn down a bit ago, and a number of businesses built there, including the Whataburger. I was working at school in early September, didn’t have a car, and so I decided to walk over and give the place a try.

It wasn’t bad! I got a #2, which is a double cheeseburger with mystery sauce; I subbed mayo. The burger had some texture (which is disappearing from many chains, Sonic and Braum’s in particular), and had decent beef flavor. The fries were nothing special. The place has brewed iced tea that was pretty good. My check was $6.93. I would not mind going back. I might even try another WAB somewhere else.

Iron Starr BBQ, Oklahoma City, OK

3 October 2012

Iron Starr Urban Bar-B-Q on Urbanspoon

I ate lunch at Iron Starr a long time ago, probably seven or more. We tried to eat dinner there a couple years ago, but it has a long wait. In mid-September, we needed to eat somewhere central to three places we needed to be, and I picked Iron Starr. Raegan and Erin met Ian and I; we had three cars.

We got there around 1730 and left close to 1900.

First: I do not like jalapeno cornbread. Iron Starr serves it. Ack.

Ian and I got iced tea, it was very good. Erin got watermelon sweet tea and pronounced it “meh”. Raegan got water.

The ribs were OK at best. I thought they were not terribly tasty. Ian did not eat all of his order. The brisket was pretty darn good, not fatty but moist and tender. It had decent smoke flavor. The pulled pork and turkey were both very good; the turkey in particular. It was smoky and tender and had a lot of flavor.

The mac and cheese and bbq beans were both very good. Raegan and Erin got okra – it was whole okra (instead of the usual sectioned okra), and it was very good.

The sauce was excellent, just the right touch of spicy, and it brought out the flavor of the meat. It was warm!

Service was pretty good. Our check was $65.75, which I think was not a bad value for the money. I would not mind eating here again.

Irma’s Burger Shack, Oklahoma City (northside)

12 August 2012

Irma's Burger Shack (Suburban Northside) on Urbanspoon

We ate lunch here today. Kind of expensive, but a great meal!

We started off with some very good iced tea, and ordered the bacon cheese fries. Those fries were excellent. I told our server they should be classified as a drug. The potatoes were wonderful, but the cheese and bacon on top was just killer. The combination of flavors was perfect. The fries came with some excellent ranch dressing; our server said they made their own. It was great stuff.

Raegan got an Irma salad, which is a cobb salad with chicken. It had more of that ranch dressing on it, and was great. Erin got some chicken strips. She didn’t finish the sides, but said the chicken was great (so did Ian, he had some of hers). Ian and I got double-meat No Name cheeseburgers. The burgers were two 5 oz patties. The meat was cooked just like it was supposed to be, and had a nice crust on it, but there wasn’t a lot of flavor. Both of us ate all of our burgers regardless. The fries that came with the burgers didn’t have any bacon or cheese, regrettably.

We finished the meal with a piece of chocolate flat cake and a slice of pecan pie; neither survived very long.

Our meal was $67.41. Kind of expensive, but the burgers came in at $10 each, and the desserts added $6. Service was pretty good. I don’t know that the burgers were worth $10 for little flavor. I like their CFS, but I’m just not sold on the burgers.

Jamil’s Steakhouse, Oklahoma City, OK

13 July 2012

Jamil's Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

Their slogan is “Thick Hickory Grilled Steaks”. I have been to the original Jamil’s in Tulsa many times. It was a family favorite. The steaks were sublime. I have not been since the original location moved a couple years ago due to the I-44 widening project there. We ate at the location in Edmond many years ago, and were dreadfully disappointed.

So last Friday, Raegan told me that I could choose where we went to dinner. I chose Jamil’s. We got there around 1800 and left around 1930. We walked in and it took a while for our eyes to adjust – the place was dark as a tomb. I fired up my Blackberry in video mode to activate the LED (which is very bright) to get enough light to read the menu.

We got the usual appetizers of smoked bologna (very good) and cabbage rolls (decent). The tea was pretty good. I was disappointed that the small smoked ribs were not included, as they are in Tulsa.

I got the porterhouse. Raegan got the ribs. Ian got the CFS, and Erin got the chicken strips.

Erins chicken strips were excellent. They tasted like actual fried chicken. Ians chicken fried steak was bland; it was not worth the $21 cost. Raegans ribs were pretty good. My steak was charred a couple places. It wasn’t fork tender (there is no way a steak that is almost two inches thick can be), but it had decent flavor.

My overall evaluation: hmmmm… The meal was good, but not great. Service was OK. Our check was $127.25. Very expensive. But I don’t think it is worth the cost.

Again, I look at Longhorn. The last steak I had at Longhorn was a T-Bone, and it was fork tender all the way, flavorful, and only $22. The Jamil’s steak was on the order of $36.

And I have yet to taste a chicken fried steak that was worth $20+. Period.

So, a good meal, but way over-priced. Maybe they needed extra to pay the light bill.

Gabriella’s Italian Grill & Pizzeria, Oklahoma City, OK

29 June 2012

Gabriella's Italian Grill & Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

We have passed Gabriella’s as it was being put together, and looking forward to trying it. There is a dearth of restaurants between the St. John’s area and our house, so any new restaurant is a good thing.

Raegan and Ian and I ate dinner here tonight. We got to the restaurant about 1715 and left about 1845. It was a very good meal. The meal started out with a family-style salad and bread. The bread was a combination of loaf bread, fairly rough texture, and very tasty, along with some baked garlic bread strips, excellent. The salad had a creamy garlic type dressing on it that had just the right amount of bite, and was largely romaine lettuce. Good stuff.

We also got a meat ravioli appetizer. The ravioli were large, 2-3″ across, and the filling was very finely ground beef. The ravioli were uniformly non-uniform, so it’s likely they were handmade. Excellent. These were served with a heavily garlic-laced marinara.

My meal was perfect. I got a bowl (large serving!) of chicken and fettuccine al fredo. The al fredo was not too rich, and had wonderful flavor. The noodles were just a little short of being fully cooked when the meal came, but they finished cooking over the next bit. The chicken was tender. It was shaved, which is different from most presentations.

Raegan had manicotti. It was very good, and they prepared it the way she likes it, which is two manicotti, one with red sauce, and the other with white sauce. She couldn’t finish it, so brought it home for lunch tomorrow.

Ian had a bit of a meltdown meal-wise. He is not a fan of spaghetti (what’s wrong with the boy?). So he ordered chicken parmesan, but, he asked for his side to be fettuccine al fredo. The usual presentation of this is the chicken parm on half the plate, covered with marinara, with the fettuccine al fredo on the side. Instead, he got a bowl of fettuccine al fredo, with the chicken parm was placed on top of the pile of noodles, with no marinara. I think we were entitled to send the food back for being redone, but I’m always afraid that they would toss the existing food, so he ate it as delivered. The chicken was sliced into 1/4″ wide strips; I think the chicken could have been left whole.

I’m not sure about the quantity of Ian’s meal. The menu claimed that the chicken parm was two chicken breasts, but he clearly only had one. I should have raised this with the restaurant; I think I will drop them an email.

Service was uneven. We got left for stretches, and for some reason our server just would not fill the tea glasses all the way up. Repeatedly. After we got our check, I wanted to get an itemized receipt, but our server disappeared for ten+ minutes, and then after I flagged him down I waited another ten, but finally just left, without the receipt. Our check was about $64.00.

This was a superior food experience. If they can get the server issues worked out, they will have a winner.

Longhorn Steakhouse, Oklahoma City, OK

28 June 2012

LongHorn Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

Raegan and Ian and I ate at this Longhorn tonight for dinner. This was not our first visit here, probably our 10th.

The meal was uniformly very good. The baked potato soup and bread courses, along with the ceasar salads. My t-bone was excellent; not as tender as some I have had, but well within specs. Raegan had salmon and enjoyed it. The only issue we had was with Ians New York Strip; it had rather more seasoning than we normally like (the steak was tender and had a lot of flavor, it didn’t need all the pepper).

Tea was excellent, and so was service. We got to Longhorn around 1730 and left around 1900. Our check was $73.45. I like Longhorns.

Mama E’s Wings and Waffles, Oklahoma City, OK

2 June 2012

Mama E's Wings & Waffles on Urbanspoon

After our trip to McAlester today, Raegan said that she would like to have fried chicken. We thought about it for a minute, and thought of Mama E’s. A quick check of Google showed that Mama E’s was open until 1900, and it was 1815, so off we went, getting there about 1830.

The ops concept is to check out the pre-made meals that are available. We all got some variation of two pieces of fried chicken, and each box had two sides (greens, mashers, mac and cheese). You also get a cup of punch-of-the-day, and a piece of cake.

The chicken had decent taste. I think they were a bit on the small side, and it was pretty clear that the birds had not been cooked shortly before we arrived. The sides were good also.

So my advice, if you are visiting Mama E’s, get there earlier than we did. You will get a better selection.

We finished and left right at 1900. Our check was $34.46. Good value, not a gut-buster meal, and all of the staff was super friendly. A nice place to visit.

Mamasita’s, Oklahoma City, OK

18 May 2012

Mamasita's on Urbanspoon

We’ve passed Mamasita’s about four zillion times over the past 20mumble years. Last Monday we decided to give it a try. We got there around 1700 and left around 1830.

Raegan got a blue corn tortilla chicken enchilada. She said it was OK, but she didn’t know that the tortilla was true from blue cord, in that it… bled. Erin got a chicken quesadilla, and Ian got a cheese quesadilla. I got an El Grande Burro, which is a largish burrito filled with (in my case) ground beef. We also got a bowl of spiced queso.

The rest of the family said that their meals were “OK” at best. Raegan was not entirely happy with hers. In contrast, I really liked my burrito. I thought that the filling had a wonderful taste that was the right balance of spices. It seemed to me to be like a casserole in a tortilla. It was excellent.

The iced tea was not very good, I think it was instant. Service was curt, at best. It seemed to me that our server was much more interested in something else, and so he would rush up to the table, and hurry off again. We didn’t see him very often. The restaurant was not crowded at all the entire time we were there. Our check was $49.95.

Would we go back? Probably not. I really liked that burro, but if it did not appeal to Raegan then we have a showstopper there. If I were by myself in town one evening, then maybe I would go back, but probably not.

Mother’s Day at Saltgrass Steakhouse, Oklahoma City, OK

14 May 2012

Saltgrass Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

We can’t hardly get Raegans parents into a restaurant. This past weekend we determined to have Mother’s Day out, picked the Saltgrass, and it helped that her brother was in town for his yearly visit from Germany.

We got there at 1430, and with the call ahead seating we were at the table in less than five minutes.

We started off with three appetizers: fried mushrooms, loaded fries, and a crab stack. The wheat bread was an excellent addition.

Everybody had potato soup except Raegans Mom, who had a wedge salad.

Ian and I had the bone-in ribeyes; Tom and Loretta had the Mother’s Day special, a 10 oz ribeye with a side of BBQ shrimp; Erin had a chicken fried chicken; Blaine had an 11 oz top sirloin, and Raegan had baby back ribs. Every bit of this was excellent; every scrap was eaten (except that I took home about 1/3 of my steak; those bone-ins were 24 oz (!), and with the appetizers and all the steak just made it too much).

One more word about my steak; it was thick (more then 1″), but it was a perfect medium, with just a hint of charring on a bit of the fat around the rim of the steak. Whoever was cooking did an outstanding job with that meat. It was also very tender (there’s no way a 1″ slab can be fork tender) and had a lot of flavor as well. It was great value. Ian did a number on his steak: the bone that was left behind looked like it was from the Museum of Osteology!

We ended the meal with a large slab of cheesecake and another slab of chocolate cake.

Service was really good, in spite of the fact that the Saltgrass was pretty much full, and stayed busy the entire time we where. So, this was an expensive meal. OTOH, there were seven of us, and we got some of the most expensive meals (for example, those bone-in ribeyes were $31), and multiple appetizers. Our check was $258.81, which makes it the second most expensive meal we’ve had as a family. We were there almost two hours, and had a great time. It was worth it for the company and the pleasant experience.

Lola’s Family Restaurant, Oklahoma City, OK

18 March 2012

Lola's Family on Urbanspoon

Raegan and the kids ate here a month or so ago and liked it. Since she and I were childless today, and in NW OKC, we decided to try it out.

Raegan got a BLT and a slice of some kind of pie (we think it was banana), and ate every bit of it. I got a chicken fried steak, with mashers and green beans. I ate every scrap. The cfs was clearly breaded and cooked up right there; there was a touch of burned-oil flavor in it. But it also had a good flavor, and was tender all the way through. The mashers and beans were also quite edible. So overall, I would have another CFS there anytime. The tea was good, and kept refilled.

We got there about 1330 and left shortly after 1400 (they close at 1400 on weekends). Service was quick and accurate. Our check was $18.06. Good value, good food.

Billy Sims BBQ, NW Expressway, OKC

17 March 2012

Billy Sims BBQ on Urbanspoon

I think that I’ve eaten at the entire Billy Sims chainlet now. I cannot really sing the praises of this BBQ too much. Overall, I like Billy Sims BBQ as well as I like JTs. That’s saying something! The Sims ribs are about a 9.75 on a scale of 1 to JTs. They are that good.

This evening, Raegan and Ian and I ate at the location on NWX. Raegan and Ian got ribs, I got the two meat, chopped BBQ and smoked chicken. The brisket was wonderful! Full of flavor, tender, just great stuff. The BBQ sauce has just the right amount of spice, and does a great job enhancing the flavor of the beef. The chicken was sliced breast meat, tender, smoky, and just the right about of juicy. Great stuff also. I got a rib as a side (that’s a great idea, BTW) and BBQ beans which I really liked. The ribs are tender and meaty; they almost have the red crust that JTs ribs have. JTs also has just a better smoky flavor.

We got there about 1745 and left about an hour later. The restaurant slowly filled up over that time period. Like all the Bill Sims restaurants, the staff is super friendly and pleasant to talk to. The tea (both sweet and straight) is excellent. Our check was about $32, good value. Highly recommended.

Shartel Café, Oklahoma City, OK

12 March 2012

Shartel Café on Urbanspoon

We’ve eaten at the Shartel Cafe a couple times over the past year or so. It’s always been very good. We decided to have lunch there today on the spur of the moment.

Raegan got basic bacon and eggs, Ian got biscuits and gravy and biscuits and sausage, and Erin and I got french toast (I got sides of hash browns and bacon). All of this was excellent. We ate every bit of it, except for one of the biscuits and a sausage patty that Ian brought home for breakfast tomorrow morning.

We were there about 1300 and left about 1400. Our check was $35, which I think is pretty good value, given that the food was excellent.

Smashburger, Oklahoma City, OK

6 March 2012

Smashburger (Memorial) on Urbanspoon

About three weeks ago, I saw that Smashburger had opened up in north OKC. Later that evening, Raegan and I were out by ourselves (cool in itself), and given that I had enjoyed a Smashburger in Bellevue, NE some months ago.

We got there around 1915; there was a line to the door. That line never got any shorter while we were there, but it did back out the door a couple times.

Raegan got a mushroom swiss with a root beer float, and I got large BBQ bacon cheddar burger with a vanilla shake and fries. All of this was excellent. The burgers were highly flavorable, not too greasy, and the bacon on mine was nicely crunchy. I really liked the vanilla shake, it was just the right thickness (and it was a huge amount).

I’d eat at a Smashburger anytime. Our check for two was $25.84. Expensive, but worth it.

Wing Stop, Oklahoma City, OK

6 March 2012

Wing Stop on Urbanspoon

Every once in a while, we like a meal of just chicken wings. Raegan is fond of buffalo sauce, I like BBQ. A couple weekends ago, we were in north OKC, and saw the Wing Stop and decided to check it out.

We each got different things. I got BBQ, Raegan got a split order of garlic parmesan and buffalo, Erin got some plain, and Ian got some gliders (small slider-style burgers). These came with fries. The fries were very good!

That being said, the wings were OK. Just OK. I really didn’t like the garlic wings that Raegan got, but that’s just a preference on my part. The wings were all decent sized and had an OK amount of meat on them. But they were, in the end, just wings. The iced tea was pretty good.

We got there around 1215 and left at 1315. The wings are cooked on demand and take about 20-25 minutes. The place was moderately crowded the time we were there.

Our check for four was $39.70. I think that is pretty darn expensive for chicken wings. I’ve stopped at places many times and got 10 chicken wings (an appetizer) and a drink, and got out for $6, so I think that Wing Stop is a bit high priced for typical quality. I probably would not go back.

Golden Chick, Oklahoma City, OK

5 March 2012

Golden Chick on Urbanspoon

I drove past this restaurant a couple weeks ago and noted it. We really like fried chicken every once in a while, and few places serve it, and fewer still serve it well, so I’m always on the lookout for a new place.

Two weeks ago, we decided to give it a try. We got there around 1220 and left about an hour later. The place was fairly busy during the entire time, including two extended families (one looked post-church and the other was post-soccer).

Ian got chicken tenders, Erin got roasted chicken, and Raegan and I got fried. We got a mix of sides as well. The chicken was uniformly excellent. My fried chicken had plump, moist meat with nice and crunchy breading. It didn’t get dry in the center as a lot of chicken does. The kids all scarfed down their lunches, as did Raegan. The restaurant had brewed iced tea that was very good.

So overall, the chicken at Golden Chick was well received by our family. I would gladly go back. Our check was $31.36.

In a side note, I sorta through while we were there that I had been in a Golden Chick at some point in the past. I looked through my posts, and realized I had been to the Golden Chick in Richardson, TX back over the summer, and had liked it. Consistency is nice!

S & Bs Burger Joint, Oklahoma City, OK

2 February 2012

S & B's Burger Joint on Urbanspoon

This is a bit of a catch-up post. Back on 05 January, Raegan and Erin and I were out running errands and needed lunch. Since we were a half block away, we decided to hit S&B, which had been recommended by our friend Jackie.

I ordered a Porker (which is a standard bacon cheeseburger), dould meat; Erin got a chili cheeseburger; Raegan got a mushroom and swiss burger. We also got onion rings.

The rings were PERFECT. The breading was lite, and the rings were fried hot, light, crunchy, and tasty. The onion was sweet and fully cooked, great stuff.

The cheeseburgers were pretty darn good. The beef was full of flavor, cooked medium well, and juicy but not greasy. The burgers were not huge; we all finished ours completely, even Erin.

We all got iced tea, which was good. Service was very attentive, but not overpowering. The tea was kept refilled.

Our check was about $38. A little expensive for cheeseburgers, but I would not mind going back again.

We Can Recycle At The House Now!

24 December 2011

A couple of years ago, I wrote a gripe about how even though we pay the same taxes as everyone else in OKC, we couldn’t participate in curbside recycling.

Over the summer, our neighborhood association sent out a newsletter that talked about how we might be getting curbside recycling, then over the fall we got another that said that we wouldn’t be getting it.

Then, weekend before last, blue recycling bins were distributed throughout the neighborhood. Cool, I thought!

So now we down to two recycling actions. We put everything but paper in the recycling bin, and it gets picked up and taken to wherever recycle stuff goes in OKC. We keep the paper, and take it off to St. John’s since the school gets a tiny bit of money for the paper we recycle there.

So I’m happy about this. I didn’t mind hauling our stuff to the city of Nichols Hills, but having OKC do it for us means one less side trip ever couple of weeks.

Now, if we can just get fire hydrants…

Chubby’s Chicken, Oklahoma City, OK

16 November 2011

Chubby's Chicken and Grill on Urbanspoon

Last Friday, after we dropped Ian off for a weekend Scout campout, Raegan announced that She Wanted Fried Chicken. How could I argue with that? We headed from uptown OKC out to Peidmont to Chicken and Chops, which was closed… Crud.

I pulled out my trusty Blackberry with Google Maps, entered “chicken”, and Chubby’s popped up, conveniently enough on Northwest Expressway along our route back into town.

We got there around 1900, the place was pretty much empty (there were more arrivals later).

We ordered an entire fried chicken, eight pieces. It came with two sides, including a decent mayo potato salad (you can get mustard-based also). Erin also decided she wanted a fried chicken wrap.

All of this was excellent! We have been looking for a good fried chicken place (do not speak to me of KFC), and had settled on Chicken and Chops until now. The fried chicken at Chubby’s was far better than Eishen’s, Chicken and Beer, and quite better than Jim’s. We ate every bit of our order, and ended up taking part of Erin’s wrap back home.

Raegan and I got iced tea, Erin had water, and Raegan and Erin had yummy root beer floats.

Service was excellent. Our check was $33.82, which I think was excellent value. We’ll be back.

Jack’s BBQ, Oklahoma City, OK

16 November 2011

Jack's Bar-B-Que on Urbanspoon

I drove past Jack’s a weekend back when I was going to a daylong Scout leader training. It’s on 39th Expressway east of Meridian. I went back home and got Ian, and we ate there for dinner.

Ian got the rib dinner, and I got a two meat special with brisket and pulled pork. The ribs, while large, were pretty tough and didn’t have much flavor (Ian didn’t finish them, and that’s a statement right there). My brisket and pork were pretty much the same (I left some behind as well).

I think that the meal was oh so close. It looked good, it just was lacking in the flavor department, maybe just a touch more or less smoking needed? The sides (he got fries, I got something) were OK.

YOu order at the counter and then pick up the order. Tea (which was good) is self serve. THe check for the two of us was $31.17. I probably won’t be back.

Museum of Osteology, Oklahoma City, OK

28 September 2011

This place was really, really cool.

Raegan and I are science nerds in the broadest sense. We like natural history museums, national parks, and national monuments. We have stopped unannounced at radio observatories we passed, and talked our way into a tour. We have paid money to go through optical and radio observatories. We thought this place rocked.

We have wanted to visit the museum for six months. Saturday was national museum day, and we decided it was a good day to go.

When you enter, the first thing you get to see is a fish tank inset to the wall of the atrium. In the tank are various bone pieces, and the small beetles that are used to clean most of the non-bone stuff off by eating it. Decomposers at work!

You walk in and get a view of two levels of bones:

Notice the whale skeleton that dominates this area. The story here is that the whale washed up on a beach, and the Museum people found out about it, and spent a long while recovering the decomposing remains. It took (IIRC) two years to get it prepared for the museum.

Another one is a manatee that was killed by a boat. The adult is hanging above, but the calf she was carrying is also on display in one of the cases. I spent some time looking at the differences in the shape of the bones between the two.

The exhibits are broken up into some interesting divisions. I was fascinated by the locomotion section. Through the air, through the trees, along the ground. A number of the avian exhibits had feathers attached to the bones. There were a number of bats, well-exhibited.

This koala bear was not nearly so cuddly.

Erin really like the giraffe – it went from the first level all the way to the second.

Finally, a couple of the exhibits had very understated humor. One of the full human skeletons was holding a hammer (tool user!). This one was also pretty good.

Click on the picture too see the full size version, and check out the two signs.

The Museum has a pretty cool gift shop. It’s the only place I’ve been where you can buy human and other animal skulls and other bony remains. They also had some very neat science-related things to buy.

It’s $5 a person to get in, it’s worth it!

Fire Emergency in Oklahoma City Yesterday

31 August 2011

There was a serious wildfire in Oklahoma City yesterday, that continues today. It was apparently south of, and close to, my house and neighborhood.

The information surrounding this fire was confusing and contradictory. I am in San Diego, and found out about the fire from CNN in the lobby of the Navy facility I am working at this week. I got in touch with Raegan, and she collected Ian from the house.

So the NWS sent out several fire warning statements; these indicated a mandatory evacuation area that included our house. I was in constant contact with Ian to ensure he was not terribly worried (in fact, he was calm, and executed my commands very precisely, and I am very proud of him for that). The police came through the neighborhood house to house as well.

But the media (at least, none of the TV station websites, or the Oklahoman website) never reported that our neighborhood was evacuated. The reported area still today stops a mile south of our house. There was ONE report of a specific location of fire yesterday (on the KFOR website, I think), and that report was 3/4 mile due south of my house).

The OKC FD had to have had PA people out with them, and there were scads of reporters around, and still, almost 24 hours after the event started, the information is still not consistent. The OKC FD website reports a different set of fire areas than the media.

All of this really leads me to question the information sharing between the various agencies and the media. The media had helicopters up, and if nothing else they should have been able to precisely show the boundaries of the fire areas at least. Why could the spotters in the helicopter report the actual fire locations to their reporters, and to their web site people? I could see the smoke plume on NWS radar yesterday, and it showed the fire source at least, and that was the best I could get, but it is a very low resolution at best.

So to find out what happened, I am going to have to go drive the neighborhoods when I get home this weekend. That’s not a good testament to the media in OKC.

44 Diner, Oklahoma City, OK

27 July 2011

44 Diner on Urbanspoon

24 June 2012 note: this place *was* called 66 Diner when it opened, but I just noticed the 44 Diner today.

Saturday afternoon, we had run an errand in NE OKC, and were in the vicinity of Kelley and I-44, and hungry for lunch. 66 Diner opened at that intersection a couple months ago, and we have a dearth of restaurants in that area, so we decided to give it a try.

We got there around 1230, it was about 25% full. Three of us got floats; the one I tried was good (and cold!).

Erin ordered corn dogs. This was a disappointment. The dogs came fried golden brown on the outside, but were cold to the touch on the hot dog inside. I suspect these were bought pre-made, and the heating process curtailed.

Ian got a cheeseburger. Not bad.

I don’t remember what Raegan got.

I got a chopped steak, covered with fried onions and mushroom gravy. It was very good, but the onions needed a bit more time on the grill.

We left around an hour later, and there were only two other tables occupied. Our check was about $30, which I thought was not a bad deal. Service was OK. I would like to try 66 Diner again.

San Marcos Mexican Restaurant, Oklahoma City, OK

13 July 2011

San Marco's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Raegan has been to lunch at this restaurant several times as it is near school. The location is on May Avenue just north of I-44.

We were running errands Sunday and decided to eat late lunch. We didn’t have the kids, but I’m sure that didn’t have anything to with our decision… We got there around 1400 and left around 1440. The place was largely empty the entire time.

The iced tea was really good and kept refilled.

I got the enchilada dinner, which defaults to one cheese and one beef. I asked for one chicken and one beef, and got them with no issue. They were very good. The chicken enchilada had sour cream sauce over it, and the other beef had chili con carne over it. The rice and beans were very good also. A solid meal. Raegan got a chimichanga and said it was good, if too large for her to eat all of it.

The meal came with a couple sopapillas, with copious honey available to slather.

Service was very good; our check was about $24. A good meal, I will eat here again.

Chuck Wagon Gathering and Children’s Cowboy Festival, Oklahoma City, OK

29 May 2011

We went to the Festival today. We’ve made most of them for the past 10 years or so. We usually let the kids take a friend (or two). Ian hasn’t done this in a couple years, but Erin always does, we took her friend Sophie this year.

So what do you do at one of these? Here is a comprehensive list:

  • Ride the stagecoach or wagon, they are horse-drawn
  • Ride a pony (have to be less than 70 lbs)
  • Ride a horse (led by a helper)
  • Walk through the Museum
  • Make a rope
  • Rope a fake cow head
  • Sit on a huge steer with enormous horns
  • Listen to a variety of live country and western music
  • Watch a flim-flam artist do a medicine show
  • Have your face painted
  • Do some crafts
  • Do some horseshoe throwing (this was new for this year)
  • Get sunburned and very hot
  • Now, most of this stuff is fun for kids, and that’s the reason for having most of the activities (see “Children’s Cowboy Festival” in the title). You also get a chance to tour the Museum, which is first-class. It’s also air-conditioned, which is a good thing. The Museum has a small restaurant which is pretty good. It’s air-conditioned also, still a good thing.

    I like the music also. There were only three stages this year, and I sat and listened to music on all three. None of it was slick, but it was all good. A couple of times I took my food cup in (they are all under big awnings, so they are shaded, and that is a very good thing), sat, and ate while listening to the singing and playing.

    But for me the real attraction is the cooking. This is the “Chuck Wagon Gathering” part of the title. Good cooks from all over the region come to Oklahoma City and cook “trail food”. This mainly means beans, chili, brisket, stew, corn bread, biscuits, and the like. There are always a couple cobblers and other sweet stuff also. This stuff is really very, very good overall. This year I had two things in particular, one beef stew that was probably the finest I have ever had, and a chili that was so flavorful I could not believe it. I had about eight cups of one kind or another of food, so I essentially got a great buffet lunch a bit at a time. The food sampling is part of the admission.

    I think they should have a petting zoo. Make sure everyone gets sun block – a lot of the activities involve standing in line in the sun. Ian is probably a bit old for most of it – he went to the museum the first chance he got both this year and last. But school age up to about 13 will probably enjoy this a lot.

    You can enter through the Museum, or park east of the Museum. The Festival is held in a wooded area east of an below the Museum. It gets crowded in there! And usually hot!

    It costs $18 for an adult, I think $12 for a teen, and $10 for 12 and under, something like that. They take credit cards for entry, but you need cash for drinks (water and Coke are basically it). One thing that is nice is that the entry covers everything except for drinks, so you are not getting nickle-and-dimed at every turn.

    This is a nice activity that is very safe, and I think is under-known in the Metro area, but if many more people came then it would be too crowded unless the number of activities increased.

    Kudos to the NWS and the OKC TV Stations

    25 May 2011

    We had quite the round of severe weather this evening. At least seven tornadoes, including some significant ones that caused a lot of damage.

    The National Weather Service, and the agencies the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) and the local Norman Weather Service Forecast Office (WSFO), were talking about the potential for severe weather about three days ago, in very strident terms. As the days rolled on, they kept ratcheting up the commentary. In the end, they were right on the money. The SPC issued a High Risk this morning around 0500, after first mentioning it explicitly yesterday evening.

    This morning around 0715, I made a tour of the three network stations here, and none of them reflected the High Risk that had been issued a couple hours previously. The mets did all talk about the potential for a big event, but the graphics were not reflective (they all showed a Moderate Risk, and there were two different interpretations, curiously enough).

    The stations made up for all that this evening, going wall-to-wall with chasers, helicopters, and video from all over central Oklahoma. They kept people up to date as to where the storms were and what direction they were heading.

    So the NWS and SPC and Norman WSFO deserve high praise for their great predictive work today. While their warnings can’t help people completely avoid the storms, those warnings help people be aware enough to be able to take some actions to protect themselves.

    Pappy’s Cafe, Oklahoma City, OK

    30 April 2011

    Pappy's Diner on Urbanspoon

    I have driven by Pappy’s many times over the years, and have eaten at the BBQ location next door a couple times. I had arrived at OKC yesterday very hungry after a very early early start in San Diego, and so decided to eat here for lunch. One thing – they close at 1400, and are only open Monday – Friday.

    I got there about 1325 and left about 1415. It was not crowded. I got iced tea, pretty good.

    I ordered a house specialty, the chicken fried steak. It was advertised as hand breaded. I was not impressed. The CFS was very thin. There was rim of breading around it that was tough. The breading had an odd flavor to it that was not altogether pleasing. The steak part was smallish and had little flavor to it. The gravy was pretty good. It came with mashers (decent) and two sides (green beans and mac and cheese, both OK).

    Service was excellent. The cheeseburgers that I saw looked pretty good. My check was $9.81.

    Overall, I was not impressed by the CFS. If I get a chance to go back, I would try something else.

    Skyline Restaurant, Oklahoma City, OK

    9 March 2011

    Skyline Restaurant on Urbanspoon

    The four of us ate at the Skyline Restaurant yesterday evening for dinner, since it was conveniently located in central OKC.

    We got there about 1700, and left about 1810. The restaurant was nearly empty the entire time.

    We sort of regressed in time eating here, the place reminded me greatly of the restaurants that I had eaten in with my family during summer trips back in the 70s. The architecture, the food, the service, and the servers were all right out of those restaurants. Both Raegan and I were marveling at that.

    Raegan got fried cod fish. She said it was OK. It came with really good peaches; they had a bit of nutmeg in them. There were two other sides.

    Ian got a cheeseburger and tater tots. The burger was decent, the tots very good.

    I a chicken fried steak. The steak I do not think was breaded there; it was too consistent. It wasn’t too bad, mostly tender and good flavor. The gravy was very good. It came with three sides. I got mashers, made from former baked potatoes, green beans, and cottage cheese, all good.

    I can’t remember what Erin got; I’ll ask her later.

    The tea was good, as was the DP Ian got.

    The check was something like $33, which I think was a pretty good value.

    Notes: Skyline is cash only. There is an ATM in the restaurant.

    They have a smoking section; it’s in the back of the place, so we didn’t have to walk through it. We sat in the front of the building, and didn’t smell any smoke, which is good.

    Italia Express, Oklahoma City, OK

    6 March 2011

    Italia Express on Urbanspoon

    We ate lunch here today at the recommendation of friends Noel and John. In short, an outstanding eating experience, and great value.

    Three families were working at St. John’s cleaning up after the annual auction, and we were hungry! Italia Express is just south of the school, on May Avenue. We got there around 1300, and left around 1430. We had four adults, a teenager, and four kids.

    The meal started off with salads. Most of us got Caesar salads. The salad was very basic, the dressing was excellent. Just the right amount of bite, and a tremendous flavor. Great stuff. The meal also starts off with bread, a nice crusty roll. We also ordered some cheese bread, and then another round, and the staff added some garlic to that round. All excellent. We also got deep-fried cheese sticks for the kids; this came with a large bowl of marinara. The kids said the cheese sticks were great, and I tried the marinara; it was excellent.

    My meal was fettuccine and chicken alfredo. It was, if not the best, some of the best alfredo I have ever had. The flavor was amazing, the texture and consistency perfect. Ian also got some on the side, and asked for a bit of extra alfredo; they gave him a cereal-bowl sized amount, and I was able to add some to my meal, and for Raegan to dip some bread in it.

    I asked for a small side of spaghetti and meat sauce. It was also outstanding. The dish was the same-sized bowl the side of alfredo came in.

    Jackie got a meatball sandwich that looked and smelled pretty good. Noel got tortellini; she gave a bite to me, and it was excellent. Raegan got ravioli and approved, and Ian said his chicken parmigiana was perfect. All of the kids also ate all of their meals.

    Service was excellent and attentive. The only thing I could mark the place down for was that the tea, while good, was a little weak.

    Value was outstanding. The check for nine of us, with more than full meals and all the appetizers, was $92.80.

    I like Olive Garden. I like Italia Express better, much better. Our meals for four at OG run around $60. I think that Italia Express has better food, and better prices. I will always choose Italia Express first in the future. Recommended.

    Zio’s Italian Kitchen, Oklahoma City, OK

    2 February 2011

    Zio's Italian Kitchen on Urbanspoon

    I ate here at the Bricktown location a couple weeks ago with some work friends from out of town. We got there around 1830 and left around 2000. Service was excellent.

    I got some toasted ravioli as an appetizer. The meal came with excellent bread, and EEVO to dip it in. If you ask, they will bring balsamic vinegar to add; I did, it was great.

    I got chicken marsala for my meal. It was, basically, perfect. I asked for some fettuccine alfredo as my side, as I usually do, it was wonderful.

    My check was $20.30. This was my third or fourth visit to Zio’s. All have been great.

    Spaghetti Warehouse, Oklahoma City, OK

    2 February 2011

    Spaghetti Warehouse on Urbanspoon

    I’m playing a bit of catch-up on the blogging front. It’s been pretty busy around here.

    I ate at the Spaghetti Warehouse in Bricktown a couple weeks ago with a group of people that had been at a meeting that day. I have to say, I was not impressed.

    We had about 20 people; that wasn’t the problem. We were served slowly,l but we also arrived slowly, decided what to eat slowly, and ate ate slowly. Service was not bad given all that.

    The problem was, the food was crappy. I got a couple orders of garlic bread (they were OK) with marinara (lousy). I had some bites of other appetizers, not good either (pre-fab breaded mushrooms, for example). The salads were flat and lacking in dressing.

    I ordered fettuccine and chicken alfredo. I asked that the chicken be sauteed instead of grilled; this was done. The noodles were tasteless. The chicken was OK, but it was in two bug chunks, and was tasty enough. But the alfredo was not good. It had an odd aftertaste that was not pleasant. I did not like it, but I did eat all the food. I had a bit of a queasy stomach for a bit afterward (and that’s a rare thing for me).

    My check was $26.26. There was an extorted gratuity due to the number of our party, so the Warehouse screwed the server out of what he deserved.

    I will likely not ever darken the door of Spaghetti Warehouse again.

    Spam And The St. John’s Server

    23 December 2010

    I am the IT Department for St. John’s Episcopal School and Church, and as such have to keep the network, servers, and workstations running. One the biggest problems I have had in the past couple years is spam. Not the canned variety, but email spam.

    Spam has been a running problem for a number of years, but was generally manageable. Starting around the beginning of 2009, the amount and virility of the spam got much worse. I was getting a lot of complaints from my users, especially the science teacher in the building, who was very persistent in her complaints (usually, I heard about this at night in bed. About the SPAM, that is!).

    I started looking for some solutions, and after a bit settled on using SpamAssassin. It had good reviews and was free for a not-for-profit. I installed it towards the end of school (to minimize user impact if something went wrong), and spent some time each evening for a couple weeks having spams that my users found run back through the SpamAssassin tool. After a bit, the spam load started trending down (see the chart below).

    I don’t know why this was. I didn’t have a way to automagically collect metrics on the spam coming in, but my gut told me that it was in the 150-200 per day range, which is about what the chart shows. My guess is that as I started automatically rejecting spam at the server, the spam was not able to call home (a lot of it had embedded single-pixel loads from a remote server, intended as a return receipt from our IP address).

    Whatever the reason, spam dropped a lot at the user level. I rarely got complaints about it, and what was getting through was getting manually killed by the users. For a couple months, I put in a couple hours ever couple days running the spam though manual analysis, tightening the reject criteria.

    This happy situation persisted for more than a year. Daily spam was in the 100 or less range, and the users rarely got any.

    Then, over the summer of 2010, my resident science teacher started getting a LOT of spam. You can see that spike, up in the 800-1000 range. It dropped off a little bit, but she was getting a significant amount of spam that SpamAssassin was not catching.

    My analysis showed that most of it was coming in as if it was being sent from our own domain. I had whitelisted all school- and church-related email addresses I could get, including the teachers, of course, and that made SpamAssassin think that the stuff was legitimate. I did some more tuning of the filter criteria, but we were clearly in a world of hurt.

    I was reading one of my daily set of admin/security emails, and the spam blocking service Spamhaus was mentioned. I went and checked it out. Spamhaus maintains a set of know spammers domains and IP addresses. They will feed this to you, and some institutions like schools and churches could use it free if you were below a certain volume of traffic.

    I went back and did some grepping in my mail logs, and found that I was getting connections on the order of 1% of the maximum Spamhaus criteria. The reviews of the service were good also.

    So one evening in early November, I made the changes to my Sendmail MC file, rebuilt it, and then sent myself a batch of emails to make sure that I had not broken the server. While I was doing this, I checked the log file to make sure the messages had come in OK, and there was… a log entry from the Spamhaus service. It had zorched an attempt to connect and deliver some spam, it seems.

    Well, that was pretty cool, I thought. I headed home, and checked again when I got there. The number of blocks was up to about 50! I asked people in the school and church to tell me if they got spam, or more importantly, if they didn’t get an email from someone who had sent it.

    As the weeks went by, the number of blocks was steadily increasing. I decided to do a bit of analysis. First, I made a script that traversed a set of files I had set up for each user to dump spam into. I had to tweak the grep commands a couple times, but ended up with a file that had one line in it for each spam, including the date.

    I then wrote another script that pulled the same data out of my maillog file; that was easy. So now I had about 10MB of data.

    Next, I wrote a short (~100 lines) Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) app that made that data graphical. I used VBA since I wanted to use Excel to plot the data, and VBA was built into Excel, and it handles flat data files well. I had some issues with getting Excel out of compatibility mode, since I needed a spreadsheet that was about 1000 cells across. The VBA app got the earliest and latest dates so I could get the width of the spreadsheet right, then it read each line, and for the date extracted from each record, it incremented the cell value. There were two lines of data – one for SpamAssassin actions, and one for Spamhaus Zen actions.

    The data were remarkable:

    The data showed that the Spamhaus Zen blocker essentially killed off most of the spike in spam that started last summer. It took the level down to the previous level, and once again my users are not complaining of spam. So the Spamhaus Zen function blocks connections to the St. John’s server at the attempt to connect to the sendmail. This saves CPU cycles since sendmail doesn’t have to process as many messages through SpamAssassin.

    One thing I need to add to my data collection is how many actual messages make it to the users. That is a project for the next couple weeks.

    This was interesting project in several ways. I had not done any VBA programming. It was EASY. I have a lot of lines of code of Visual Basic under my belt, so the syntax was already there. I had to do a bit of research to get the specific Excel commands, but they were not too bad. The resulting spreadsheet was about 500 cells wide, and had three rows of data in it, and that spreadsheet caused my rather beefy laptop to get really, really slow.

    I used VBA since I knew that Excel made nice graphs, and that’s what I had on my laptop. I don’t know if OpenOffice Calc does the same or similar. I want to find out what kind of scripting (if any) OO has. I also want to have a look at tools like GnuPlot (I know this exists, I just don’t know if it will work for this) to see if I can have the server generate this automagically every week or so.

    Always a new skill!

    Charly’s Restaurant, Oklahoma City, OK

    13 December 2010

    Charly's on Urbanspoon

    We decided to try Charly’s Saturday evening. It’s fairly near our house. We had been headed for the IHOP at 122nd and I-35, but did a real-time change.

    We had eaten at Charly’s quite some time ago, just after it opened. The verdict then had been: “it’s OK”. Not good, not bad, just OK.

    So we got there about 1900. There were a number of cars in the lot, but only two tables occupied. I quickly figured out why – there is a separate smoking room that is not very well sealed.

    We ordered quickly. Ian and I I got T-bone steaks. Both steaks were overcooked, and mine had some very tough places. The steak was not overly flavored. I got hash browns and green beans with mine, Ian got fries and green beans. Erin got a taco salad. It wasn’t bad, there was a LOT of it. She asked for salsa, and all they had was New Mexico green chili sauce; she had wanted a baked potato, but they were out, and wouldn’t have any for 30 minutes. Raegan got the fried catfish, a baked potato (she asked them to micro-nuke it, which they did), and green beans. She reported the catfish to be good to OK (which I note is not a ringing endorsement).

    The salad and ranch dressing was good. I got vegetable beef soup with mine, and like it a lot. In fact, I think it was the best part of the meal. The tea was good, although it wasn’t refilled quite as quickly as I like.

    Overall, the meal was “OK-“. Between the quality of the food, and the persistent smoke smell in the main part of the restaurant, it’s unlikely we will be back. Too bad. I would really like to have a good home-cooking place near our house.

    We left at 1950. Our check was $46.31.

    Italian Kitchen, or Rather, Steak and Catfish Barn, Oklahoma City, OK

    10 November 2010

    Steak and Catfish on Urbanspoon

    We have been to the Barn on Waterloo a couple times. I read an artical in the Oklahoma Gazette that mentioned how the Barn used to be a very good Italian restaurant. A couple months ago, I drove past the downtown location, fairly recently opened, that confusingly bears both names.

    I got there around 1230 for lunch today. It was pretty much empty.

    I ordered spaghetti with meat sauce, with a couple extra meat balls. It comes with a garden salad: I got some very good ranch dressing with it.

    The spaghetti was excellent! It was al dente, rare for a restaurant, and the meat sauce was just perfectly thick enough, loaded with beef, a bit of sausage, mushrooms, and lots of thre stuff.

    The meat ballas were another thing altogether. I didn’t like them at all. They had an odd texture, and there was no meat flavor to speak of. I just couldn’t eat them, and would not get them again.

    The only “problem”, the amount of food was grossly huge. I could have fed everyone in my family with that bowl (well, except Ian, he doesn’t *do* spaghetti).

    I ended up bringing a bunch home (a rarity for me). I didn’t even try to eat the garlic bread, although it looked good.

    The tea was good. Service, I don’t think was very good. Even in the mostly-empty restaurant, I was seated and served slowly. I left around 1320, it was pretty much empty.

    My check was $22.20. I think that the spaghetti and meat sauce was $13, and so the meat balls must have been pretty expensive. I would not get them, and I would get a half order of pasta as well, if possible.

    Boulevard Cafeteria, Oklahoma City, OK

    8 November 2010

    Last Sunday afternoon, we were in downtown for Ballet Oklahoma. We got our tickets from the Will Call, and needed lunch.

    We sort of randomly drove up Walker, found a couple places closed, and then though we would hit the Irma’s there. But… in back of Irma’s was Boulevard Cafeteria. Raegan said that someone had told her it was good, so we gave it a try.

    There wasn’t any line when we showed at 1300. One thing that struck both of us, Boulevard is straight out of the late 60s and 70s. The decor, the mode of service, the types of food, all transported right out of our childhood.

    Raegan and Erin both got baked salmon with some sides, and both liked it a lot. Ian got fried chicken, but didn’t like it. Raegan and I both tried a piece and thought it was good. He ate all the chicken, and some of her salmon, and all the veg he selected, though. I got beef tips over rice, and it was darn good! I had some decent green beans and corn also.

    I topped the meal off with a slice of custard pie. The iced tea was good, and the service was surprisingly good.

    I cannot find our check, but I think it was on the order of $45. You could do a lot worse than hit this place.

    Boulevard Cafeteria on Urbanspoon

    A Cool Weather Effect

    25 October 2010

    As I was driving to work last week on Wednesday, I noticed a fog layer that had formed on the west side of I-35 just south of Hefner. Since fog is condensation that is less dense that at least part of the surrounding air, the condensation and temperature/humidity conditions were consistent along that couple hundred yard stretch of land.

    I just thought it was cool.

    Well, *We* Always Knew This…

    13 October 2010

    USA Today had a very nice article about Oklahoma City in the Tuesday edition. The article is here.

    When I was in high school and college, I had the idea in the back of my head that I would be leaving Oklahoma as soon as I was able. The vagaries of relationships, work, and inclination all conspired to keep me here, for what I thought would be a short time. But as that time grew, I decided that I liked living in Oklahoma far more than I wanted to leave. There was lots of recreation, the people were friendly, and I had (and have) family here.

    It has become better over time, with better restaurants, better recreation, and even better attitude by the residents. Hopefully Oklahoma City will continue to improve; I think it will.

    Nomad II, Oklahoma City, OK

    12 October 2010

    Nomad II on Urbanspoon

    Raegan and I ate at the Nomad a long time ago after we had just met. I don’t remember anything about the food one way or the other. We’ve driven past this restaurant on May avenue approximately 1 billion times since.

    So Friday, after we dropped Erin off for a craft party, she and I and Ian decided to try it. Rather, Raegan and I decided, with a cranky Ian in tow.

    We got there around 1800 and the place was already about 75% full.

    Ian ordered fried chicken. It came with veg a salad. He got a Caesar salad, and thought it had an odd taste, which it did, but it was not a bad taste. He didn’t like the chicken. It came with a bowl of gravy that was excellent. Raegan and I both tried the chicken and gravy, and it was good stuff, as good at the chicken I had at Jim’s a couple weeks ago.

    Raegan got chicken parmesan and liked it, so did I. The marinara was very good.

    I got chicken marsala, and would get it again, it was very good. I had a side of spaghetti and marinara, and it complemented the meal well.

    The iced tea was good, and the service decent.

    We left around 1900, and the place was about 90% full. Our check was $63.83. A little on the expensive side for three, but probably on the list to visit again.

    Mama Roja Mexican Kitchen, Oklahoma City, OK

    11 September 2010

    Mama Roja on Urbanspoon

    This is one of the newer restaurants on the Lake Hefner waterfront east shore. Our good friend Jackie suggested it, and it was a darn good idea.

    We got there this evening at 1730, and were immediately seated. I was surprised that we were seated so quickly, as we had seven, and the place was pretty crowded!

    We had read reviews of Mama Rojas on the way over, and one review complained that queso was not served free with the meal. Not so for us, we had small bowls of queso and salsa for each seat. And it was GREAT! I think it was the best queso I have had, at a minimum, in the top five. There was a taste of something in there, a smoky flavor that I found irresistible. The salsa was pretty darn good also. It was a little thicker than a lot of restaurant salsa, and had just the right heat. I mixed a good spoonful of the salsa into the queso, wonderful! The chips were really good also, thin and fresh fried, with a slight sprinkling of salt. Great starters.

    I got two enchiladas, one with chicken and one with ground beef, both covered with chili con carne. It came with some spanish rice and some pinto beans that had small ground sausage cooked in, pretty good (you can also get plain pintos or refried). The enchiladas were very good, as good as you could get at any good Tex-Mex place.

    Raegan liked her sour cream chicken enchiladas, but they were too big for her appetite.

    Jackie and Jack shared ground beef nachos, and like them.

    Ian had chicken quesadillas and didn’t complain about them, so I guess they were good.

    Livy had a hard taco and Erin had a soft taco. Both disappeared in less time than it takes to type this sentence, it seems.

    The tea and Coke were good, although the tea started off a bit weak.

    I think the prices were comparable to other place around town, although I think the entree portions were a bit smaller than, say, Ted’s.

    When we left at 1825, the place was full and rocking! This was good, and the prices were reasonable, so I think we ought to eat there more. Of course, I could get addicted to that queso! Service was pretty good in spite of how busy the place was.

    Labor Day Weekend Biking on the Katy Trail in Missouri

    8 September 2010

    September was designated as patrol camping month for Troop 15, and Ian’s patrol decided to have their patrol camp by riding part of the Katy Trail in Missouri.

    A bit of diversion. When I was a Scout, I think that we had about a 30/70 split of patrol camping to troop camping. The patrols would decide where to go and buy food and find a way out to a camp. Most of the time one or more parents would drop us off, we would do our thing, and then get picked up a couple days later.

    Since I have been a Scout leader, there have been NO patrol camps until now. So this was kind of cool, even with the adults doing most of the planning. The long Labor Day weekend was the perfect choice. Out target was the Katy Trail, a “Rails to Trails” project that runs through the majority of north-central Missouri.

    We headed out from the church that the Troop meets at around 0900 Saturday. We stopped for lunch at the Glass House McDonald’s near Vinita, and then made a stop at Springfield, MO.

    We got to Hohn Scout Reservation about 1600. Hohn is on one of the north sides of an arm of Lake of the Ozarks. The camp is mostly about 100 feet above the lake. We got there, and immediately saw about 15 deer, including four bucks!

    The guys got to work getting camp set up. I have to say that I was pretty impressed, the patrol was really good about getting set up, striking camp, and getting ready to leave for the bike ride in the morning.

    That’s Ian doing a bit of bike riding.

    My Kelty is the second tent from the left. I didn’t put the rain fly up the first night, and got a LOT of condensation on the tent the next morning.

    It’s hard to see through the trees, but the lake was below us, and was very pretty.

    We were on the west end of the biggest open area in the camp, with the climbing tower and the volleyball court across the way.

    Each camp has concrete platforms (for Baker wall tents, I guess), and several shelters for food prep and eating. One thing I thought was cool – each shelter has a fixed patrol box for food storage. Raccoons tried to get into ours. We also saw a muskrat, I think.

    After a nice dinner of hamburger and noodle casserole, I stood on the big field for a while and watched the stars. We all talked for a bit, and adjusted bikes, and then racked out. We were all up at 0630, had breakfast, loaded up, and headed out. We got to Boonville, MO, unloaded the bikes, did some last-minute checks, and headed out.

    We started out across the big Missouri River bridge, and we were off!

    Just to the south of this bridge was an old railroad bridge with a center section that could be raised up. Very cool.

    Most of the trail, being former railroad bed, is flat and gravel covered. Most of the gravel is smaller than pea sized, and is on a hardpacked dirt surface, and so it very easy to ride on.

    The trail goes over rivers and along bluffs and swamps, and fields of various things.

    There is not much shade on the trail. Every once in a while you find it, but there wasn’t much.

    The objective for the ride was 50 miles in less than eight hours (this is a requirement of the Cycling Merit Badge). All but two of us made 25 miles. One other Scout and I made it 15.8 miles. He was tired, and I got a very painful thigh muscle cramp – the first muscle cramp I have ever had. He and I met the trailing van at Rocheport, which was our lunch stop. The rest of the crew went on to McBaine, and so racked up 25 miles. Since we had a long drive back to camp (on top of the long drive from camp to the trailhead), and the boys wanted to go swimming, they elected to stop there.

    This is the part of the biking trip that I made, overlaid on Google Maps:

    This is the altitude plot:

    What you see here is a couple trips over the big Missouri River bridge to start, then the rest of the trail is fairly flat (if I pulled the X-axis out it doesn’t look high at all).

    A couple observations. These will seem obvious.

    Trying to do 50 miles on a bike when you are trained up as a hiker does not work very well. I routinely can do a 2000 ft altitude gain with little strain, but a bike uses several other muscles. My cramp was probably due to lack of exercise of that muscle.

    My bike was not able to get into the highest gear. I should have realized that and adjusted for it before the trip.

    I drank both of my Nalgene bottles on the trail. Lots of water is important.

    Riding east into a moderate wind blowing west is hard!

    There were tons of people on the trail! It always makes me proud when I go out and see lots of people walking or biking or what have you.

    We headed back to camp and the fire was built quickly and the cooks started in cooking. A couple of the boys and leaders went down to swim. The lake was pretty from the shore.

    We had hamburger stew for dinner (Ian was one of the cooks) and it was excellent. I was in the tent by 2130, but awoke to this:

    We were up and out of camp by 0830, and made it back to Oklahoma City around 1540. A nice way to spend the long Labor Day weekend. I didn’t get to hike any of the trails at Hohn, but if I am ever back, that will be my priority.

    Trosper Park Golf Course Snack Bar, Oklahoma City, OK

    28 August 2010

    Trosper Park Restaurant on Urbanspoon

    I got the chance to eat at this snack bar yesterday before playing golf. I ordered at 1137 and got it at 1155.

    I got a double-meat cheeseburger and a large iced tea (free refills!). The burger was perfect, with great flavor and an excellent crust on the meat, and just juicy enough to require a napkin between bites. The bun was even good! These come with lettuce and tomato (which I asked not be added), and then you add your dressing from a nearby area (I put on some real mayo). I didn’t get fries, which was good since they would have been too much.

    The tea was a bit coffee-flavored, which I let the staff know about. I ended up putting about a half packet of sugar in and that masked the coffee flavor mostly.

    So this was a good burger, and fast, and far better than anything you would get at McD. The cost was $7.04 (might seem high, but it was a double). Great stuff.

    Ingrid’s Kitchen, Oklahoma City, OK

    18 August 2010

    Ingrid's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

    Last Saturday we were at a St. John’s work day. Lunch came late, and Ingrid’s was suggested to us.

    We got there around 1300. We opened the door to the sound of live music! There was a five-piece band playing standards and dance music (as in waltzes), and there were about 40 people out on a small dance floor. Very cool.

    You order from a line and then your food is delivered to your table. We ordered wienershnitzel (very good, a little tough), chicken noodle soup (excellent), and some other stuff. Everybody liked their food, even though I don’t remember what the rest of us had.

    The tea was good, and serve yourself. The place was crowded!

    Ingrid’s has a bakery as well, and we left loaded down with cookies. The peanut butter cookies were especially good. I think our check was around $40.

    Ranch Steakhouse, Oklahoma City, OK

    27 June 2010

    Ranch Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

    This is a very difficult post to write, because this meal was soooo expensive.

    Raegan got a $100 gift certificate to Ranch Steakhouse from a students family, and we decided that this evening was a good time to use it. So we invited her parents, made a reservation, and met them there.

    The four of us ate at Ranch maybe four years ago. It was pretty good, as I recall. I think we went on an evening in the middle of the week, and were there close to opening, and the restaurant was mostly empty while we were there.

    No so tonight. We were probably the third group in there this evening, and by the time we left about 1930 the place was pretty much full.

    We got there and perused menus and ordered a bunch of stuff. I started off with iced tea and a glass of White Zinfandel, both were good, and only the tea had free refills. My personal limit is one beer or glass of wine.

    For appetizers, we got two shrimp cocktails and some of the “1051 Onion Rings” (at least, I think it was 1051, it was some four-digit number). This was a good start. The shrimp cocktails were really good, and the onion rings were excellent – perfectly breaded, slightly sweet onions, and huge! We were brought some ranch dressing to dip them in. Really liked these.

    I’m going to run down what each of us got. One thing to bear in mind is that each of these items are ala carte, so even a baked sweet potato is $7, on top of the main course.

    Raegan’s mom got the “pork two”, which was a thick pork chop and a couple spare ribs. They looked pretty good. Her Dad got beef medallions. Those were thinly sliced and looked pretty good also. They had no comments one way or the other.

    Erin got a small lobster. This was the single most expensive item at $55. She had some, and all of the rest of us had at least one bite. I am no lobster expert, but the meat tasted like shrimp I have had before. Raegan’s parents have have lobster many times; her dad pronounced it “terrible”. I’ll take his word for it. She also got a cup of the baked potato soup, but she did not care for it. I ate most of it, and thought it was pretty darn good, there was a smoked bacon flavor.

    Raegan got an appetizer for a meal, the smoked salmon, with a baked sweet potato to go with it. She said it was pretty good.

    Ian got a 14 oz sirloin, with sides of steamed broccoli and creamed corn. I recommended he get his medium well after reading the description on the menu as “hot pink center”. The server recommended butterflying it, and I agreed. It came not butterflied, but it was also what I could say was medium well per the menu. Ian thought it was OK. He also said the creamed corn was too sweet, so Erin ate most of it. He said the broc needed some more steam time – I tried a piece and agreed.

    I got a 14 oz New York strip, and also ordered it medium well based on the menu description. I asked for the Yukon Gold mashers (and got some pushback, why not get the garlic mashers?), but I held out for the Yukons. They were good. I also got the creamed corn and liked it. My steak arrived medium well per the menu (which I would have called medium), but the darn thing kept cooking, and ended up almost well done. There was some charring on it. I ate all of it, but it was not the most tender or flavorful steak I have had.

    Overall, I was disappointed by this visit. When you visit a fairly classy place, and frankly, if the strip steak is $38, you expect perfection in all things. The more I think about it, the more I think I should have complained or sent some food back. I really feel that the quality we experienced this evening was about what I would expect from a Logan’s Roadhouse or a Cheddar’s. Those places make a decent steak, and that’s what I got tonight, a decent steak. Those places have good service, and that’s what we got tonight, good service.

    One thing that I think might be indicative. One of the specials tonight was a bone-in strip, 16 oz. It was $58. I asked “That’s dry aged beef, right?”, and the answer was, surprising me, no. She said it was wet aged. Now, I eat a lot of steak, most of it strips, or porterhouse/t-bones, and in general, when you get into a price range north of $35/$40, you are talking dry aged beef. Certainly I would expect my steak to have NO charring on it.

    So I do not recommend Ranch Steakhouse, in spite of our good first experience with it. If we had another gift card, we would probably eat there and keep the cost under the card amount, or give it to one of our single friends.

    Given all that, the four adults, teenager, and pre-teen, ran up a tab of $287.06. That is the single most expensive family meal I have ever had. $55 lobster tails and $13 shrimp cocktails add up fast! The tip for this meal was more than what we spend at a typical family dinner for four. Even with the gift certificate, this is the most expensive family meal we’ve ever had.

    I just do not think it was worth it. I was really disappointed with the quality of the food. And it was not just me. Raegan’s Dad and his comments on the lobster back up my thoughts on the steak. Can we afford to eat there? Yes. Will be eat there again? I doubt it. I would choose a consistent, flavorful steak at someplace like Longhorn Steakhouse first – we could eat six meals as a family there for the same price as Ranch, and the quality would be better.

    If you go to Ranch Steakhouse, i would recommend ordering your steak one “level” less than you usually get. You can always send it back! Or maybe go in the middle of the week.

    Camille’s Sidewalk Cafe, Oklahoma City, OK

    24 June 2010

    Camille's Sidewalk Cafe on Urbanspoon

    Raegan and I were out running errands this afternoon, she is on summer vacation, and I was taking some well-deserved leave (especially well-deserved, I might add).

    We had looked at Camille’s a month or so back, and chose Classen Grill instead.

    We got there around 1340 this afternoon, and left about 1430. The place was pretty much empty the entire time.

    Raegan got a pick two lunch, and chose the potato cheese soup and a 1/2 a turkey deluxe sandwich. She ate it all, so it was good. I had some of the soup, and I liked it.

    I got a chicken caesar wrap. The first couple bites were OK but boring. The rest of it was pretty good. I surmise the dressing had all flowed down to the interior of the sandwich. I got a bag of Fritos also.

    Both of the meals came with a small tub of salsa and some multi-colored tortilla chips. That salsa was some of the best I have ever had! It was just a touch spicier than Pace mild, but it was so flavorful! The only thing – it was a little thin and had a time staying on the tortilla chips. Great stuff.

    We each got a cookie. Raegan got oatmeal raisin and I got peanut butter, both were excellent!

    The iced tea was OK, a little weak. They had a soda machine, and it would flavor the soda with stuff like vanilla. Pretty cool.

    Our check was $20.52.

    Spencer’s Smokehouse and BBQ, Oklahoma City, OK

    24 June 2010

    Spencer's Smokehouse on Urbanspoon

    First, off, I don’t really know if Spencer’s is in Oklahoma City or Midwest City or Nicoma Park. Go to 23rd and Post Road, and you are there.

    I had a meal at Spencer’s a couple years ago for a coworkers going-away lunch. I think that I had a buffet that time. It clearly didn’t make much impression one way or the other.

    So yesterday, Spencer’s was mentioned in the office, and I thought – BBQ! So a coworker and I went off to have lunch.

    We got there about 1130. A crowd surged in immediately thereafter, but the restaurant was not nearly full.

    I got a two-meat lunch. Now, at most places, you get about the same volume of meat, but with two items. Not here, it was a quarter chicken and a HUGE pile of brisket! The chicken was perfect, smoked and juicy and tasty. The brisket… it was odd. It came with mild sauce like the chicken, but something about it made me pucker like licking a lemon would do. It was really sweet (not the sauce). I liked it once I got past the pucker part, but it wasn’t a huge like. I am not sure I would get the brisket again. The chicken, sure!

    They have self serve iced tea (both sweet and unsweetened), I got the un and it was good! Three big glasses worth.

    We left around 1210. My check was $20.42.

    Chelino’s Mexican Restaurant, Oklahoma City, OK

    24 May 2010

    Chelino's Mexican on Urbanspoon

    This evening, after we finished a Girl Scout project at St. John’s, we went to Chelino’s on Jackie’s suggestion. It was a great suggestion, and a very pleasant surprise.

    We got there about 1920 this evening. The seven of us were seated immediately.

    The salsa was OK, it had a heavy tomato flavor. The queso was really mild and kind of thin. The chips were pretty standard.

    I ordered the enchiladas, one beef and one chicken. The beef enchilada was good, but the chicken was excellent. One of the best I have ever had, the flavor was outstanding. The meal came with beans and rice; the rice was good; it was kind of light colored.

    Raegan had a taco salad. It was pretty good, since it was too big for her I ate part of it.

    Ian got two chicken enchiladas, when he thought he was ordering chicken quesadillas. Gripe gripe gripe.

    Jackie got the Mexican Dinner. I had a byte of her tamale, and it was really good also.

    Erin got chicken quesadilla and ate all of it. Jack and Olivia both got a beef soft taco. Everybody pretty much ate everything.

    The meal came with some light and fluffy sopapillas.

    The tea was good, in a large container, and refilled often.

    It was our turn to buy, and we got out with a check of $65.81. This was very reasonable, I think.

    While I want to try the fajitas and maybe a burrito, I think that Chelino’s is very good and a good value.

    We ate at the location on May Avenue in Oklahoma City.

    Old School Bagel Cafe, Oklahoma City, OK

    17 May 2010

    Old School Bagel Cafe on Urbanspoon

    While we were out and about yesterday, my very cute but unusually indecisive roommate had a very distinct desire for a specific lunch. So by gosh, we found it for her. She wanted a ham and cream cheese bagel. We called Panera Bread, but they didn’t have them. The Google Map app to the rescue! It pointed us up the road a bit to Old School Bagel Cafe.

    We drove up there, and lo and behold they had exactly what she wanted. I’m not a big fan of bagels, but they put the same stuff on either croissants or wheat bread.

    Raegan got her ham and cream cheese bagel and pronounced it simply wonderful. She said it was “bliss”. I got a Cowboy (roast beef and turkey) on wheat, and Erin got a ham and cheese on wheat. We got chips and such. We all liked our sandwiches.

    I got iced tea to drink. It was labeled China Mist. China Mist comes in straight black and a fruity variety. They have China Mist at City Bites, but I have not been impressed with it. So the people at Old School do something different to their China Mist that improves the taste significantly.

    We enjoyed the meal. Their wifi was down when we were there. Old School closes at 1500 on Saturday (and I think they close at 1400 or so every day). We got there about 1445 and left around 1520. The staff was super friendly.

    Classen Grill, Oklahoma City, OK

    8 May 2010

    Classen Grill on Urbanspoon

    Classen Grill has been around forever. It used to be on Classen Circle, which got replaced with a much less interesting interchange.

    My very cute and kidney-annoyed roommate and I were headed to her doctor appointment and decided to try Classen Grill.

    We got there around 1230, the place was less than 10% full. We got a booth. I ordered iced tea, it was good.

    Raegan ordered cheese sticks for an appetizer. After a bit, the server said they were out of cheese sticks, so we got chips and queso instead. That was some darn fine queso, it had a rich flavor and just a minimal touch of spice. The chips were good also.

    Raegan got a club sandwich. She liked it, but was only able to eat part of it (the rest became dinner this evening). The meal came with “Classen Potatoes”, which were potato wedges and were very good.

    I got a chicken fried steak. It was pretty darn good. The gravy was smooth and not peppery. I would rate that CFS as a 9 out of 10. The breading was tasty and not sweet. I’d gladly eat another one. I got mashed potatoes, they were kind of bland, but still got eaten.

    The CFS came with a garden salad, the ranch dressing was EXCELLENT.

    This was a delicious meal. Raegan wants to come back for a breakfast, and our good friend Jackie also told us later that the breakfasts there were wonderful. So that’s a mission!

    Our check was just under $20. We left at 1335, and the place was pretty much empty (they close at 1400 M-W, then at 1500 the other days).

    Abraham’s Western Cafe‎, Oklahoma City, OK

    6 May 2010

    Abraham's Western Cafe on Urbanspoon

    I had read that the onion burgers here were the best in OKC. I had an opportunity to try Abraham’s Tuesday afternoon.

    I got there about 1330. The place was about 1/3 full, but one of the tables had a friend from our Scout troop, so we had lunch together.

    I ordered the double meat onion-fried cheeseburger and fries. The burger was excellent! Perfect taste, good crust on the outside, well-cooked onions, and a good bun, even. The fries were rough, hand-cut, and greasy. Not as good as I like.

    I had tea, and it was good, but they ran out! I switched to DP, and it was decent.

    I was out about 1400. My check was about $9. I would gladly go here again.

    Belle Isle Restaurant, Oklahoma City, OK

    18 April 2010

    Belle Isle Restaurant & Brewing Company on Urbanspoon

    I’ve eaten a lot of meals in this space. I ate here several times when the space was “Pistacio’s” (which was the site of the infamous penny-down-the-bra incident, about which the less said the better), and many, many meals when it was an Interurban. Raegan and Erin and I ate here once a couple years ago, when Ian was at a Scout outing, but we had not been back.

    Yesterday evening after a Girl Scout awards ceremony, three families decided to have a late dinner, and Belle Isle Restaurant was suggested as a more-or-less central point.

    We got there about 1930, the place was pretty much full. We got two tables, one for the adults, and one for the kids, seperated by a low wall so we could keep an eye on them.

    We started off with two appetizers, a basket of breaded fried mushrooms and a basket of fried cheese. All were really good. The mushrooms in particular had a wonderful flavor to them.

    I asked about the chicken fried steak. The server said it was not hand breaded, but was very good. I giot it, and it was decent. It had good beef flavor and the breading was not obnoxious. The gravy was very good, and the mashed potatoes as well. It came with some steamed veg, which I ate most of (at one point, I got a really strong taste of bell pepper, but a quick drink of iced tea fixed that).

    Raegan got a tukey urban sandwich and liked it. It was a bit more than she could eat, and so part of it came home.

    Erin ordered… a steak (that’s my girl!). She got a ribeye on my advice. I told her to get the steak medium, and that’s just the way it came. She only ate about half of it, and I got the rest. It was excellent, full of flavor, not charred, well marbled. A superior cut and well cooked.

    Ian got… a cheeseburger. He got it medium well on my advice (always take hamburger medium well or well done due to e. coli concerns). I snagged it when he was not defending it; it was an outstanding burger, good flavor, a grilled bun, and probably a half pound. The only minor gripe is that the burger was right between medium and medium well. There was very little pink in it so I didn’t have him send it back.

    Jackie got pickle chips and liked them. I forgot to ask what they are.

    Jack got kid corn dogs and scarted them all down.

    Livy got the kid pasta. I didn’t see any left, so I’m guessing she approved.

    The iced tea was really good, and kept full. The service in general was excellent. The restaurant was full, but our server (Andrea) kept both of our tables fully up with whatever we needed. She did an outstanding job.

    We left about 2110. The place was still pretty much full. The noise level was not too bad. The bar part looked to be busy and active. Our check was $80.84, for two families (it was our turn to treat). I liked it better than the last time we ate at Belle Isle. I would not mind goiing back.

    Vito’s Ristorante, Oklahoma City, OK

    17 April 2010

    Vito's Ristorante on Urbanspoon

    This place is on North May Avenue in Oklahoma City. We had dinner there with good friends this evening, and had a great time.

    We got there around 1815, late due to the rain and traffic, and our friends had the table for us already. Vito’s was about half full. It’s not a large place.

    The appetizers include really good bread, and garlic olive oil and balsalmic vinegear to be dipped in.

    I got fettucine alfredo, and they added sauteed chicken to it (it’s not on the menu that way). It was pretty good. The alfredo was creamy but not as rich as I’ve had before, but it was good. It did not have the odd aftertaste you get in some alfredo. The chicken was in several big chunks, but that was easily remedied.

    We all got Ceasar salads – they were excellent. I really enjoyed the perfect dressing.

    Raegan got the salmon and liked it. It was too much for one sitting so it went home as lunch for tomorrow. Erin got steamed mussels and lliked them. Ian liked his also.

    Our friends Trace and Jackie and the kids all seemed to like theirs also. I don’t remember what everyone had, except that Jackie had meatballs in hers, and the piece of meatball I tried was good.

    We got a variety of dessets since it was Friday, my chocolate cake was good, Raegan liked the cheesecake.

    One thing that was really nice – they had live entertainment. A guy sat up front and sang American standards. We requested Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered and Mack the Knife. The singer had a really good voice. He had a computer with the background music to sing along with.

    One gripe – the tea is weird, apricot-flavored. Ack.

    We finished and left around 1945. I don’t know what the check was since we were treated (it’ll be our turn next time). The place filled up right after we got there, and there was a line of people at the door from then until we left. It’s a small area, maybe 900 sqft.

    A good experience. The service was outstanding, and the staff was wonderful. I would not mind going to Vito’s again. They just need to get some real tea!

    Interurban, Oklahoma City, OK

    11 April 2010

    Interurban on Urbanspoon

    Raegan and Ian and I visited the Interurban on Memorial, between Rockwell and MacArthur, for dinner today.

    Permit me a trip down memory lane. When I moved to OKC in 1984, I had an extremely traumatic couple months, between a new job, and home issues. My friend Shel introduced me to the first of the Interurban restaurants, which was in Northpark Mall at 122nd and May in Oklahoma City. That particular restaurant became a significant part of my life for about five years. I ate there at least once or twice a week. The servers and cooks knew who I was. I had a lot of good times, was introduced to fettuccine and chicken alfredo (and got hooked on it there, the tagline on the menu was “It’s unusually good!“, and it darn sure was!), drank more than a few mixed drinks and beers there. I met at least one future girlfriend there, and took my future and then actual wife there many times. Another friend got caught trying to take a set of salt and pepper shakers out of there. I heard a horrible personal story there from a dear friend that I was hoping would be more than a friend, but the cause of the story interfered, and it never worked like I was hoping. I had one date there that was interrupted, by another former date. Shel and I saw someone there we were both interested in once, and sent her a Bloody Mary, her favorite drink. In short, many adventures were had. And through all of this, that Interurban was consistently an excellent restaurant, and in the process became sort of a gold standard for me for restaurants. The fettuccine, the Okie Pig (a pulled pork sandwich), the appetizers, the steaks, the fish and chips (really!), the iced tea, all were excellent and consistent. Even when that location closed in 1988 or so, and reopened at 50 Penn Place, we continued to eat there a lot. We also ate at a location in downtown Tulsa near the Doubletree a couple times. When the 50 Penn location closed a couple years later, I was surprised to see an Interurban (with a new logo, but the same basic menu) open in Ardmore a year later, and then another in Edmond. When we ate at the these locations, the food quality was not nearly as good. So, if you are responsible for the Interurban, please bring back the good fettuccine, and keep the Okie Pig, and the Theta. I’ll come back, I promise.

    To today. The location on Memorial has been open a couple of years, but it’s far enough outside of our usual haunts that we don’t get by there very often. This day, I saw the fajitas delivered to a table near ours, and they smelled so good I ordered some: mixed beef and chicken. I asked for no bell peppers, but got them anyway. I picked them all out. The fajitas were OK, not any better than OK. The chicken had little flavor. The beef was OK, but was small. I didn’t think it was very good value. I asked for beans and rice (an upcharge!?!?); they were not delivered at first, I had to ask. The tortilla container was empty on delivery, and I had to ask for them. I had to ask for iced tea refills several times, with a 10-minute wait at one point.

    Raegan got a Caesar salad and a lunch sized fettuccine with chicken, and sun-dried tomatoes. The salad was excellent. The pasta, she said was OK, but it had a LOT of the tomatoes in it, way too many. They took up a significant fraction of the volume of the meal.

    Ian got a ribeye. It was a really good steak, and the most expensive part of the meal. He got it medium, and that’s how it came. It was tasty and had great flavor. He didn’t eat all of it, so I did. He got wild rice and mixed steamed veg, and ate most of it.

    We got there around 1745 (the place was about 20% full), and left about 1830 (close to full). Our check was $51.15; I think that’s kind of expensive for what we had. The service was not very good. I had to flag our server down a number of times for stuff, and we had the small issues with the order. I don’t know that I would rush right back to the Interurban.

    Maybe to get an Okie Pig next time. Or maybe if they bring back the original fettuccine and chicken…

    BTW, they have some really good photos of OKC from the (I think) 30’s and 40’s on the wall, really, really cool.

    Lake Hefner Golf Course Snack Bar, Oklahoma City, OK

    11 April 2010

    Ian and I decided to take advantage of the beautiful day today and hit a couple buckets of balls on the Hefner driving range. Since we hadn’t had lunch, we decided to get something at the course snack bar.

    We both got cheeseburgers and fries. His was a single, mine a double. He got a bottle of Coke, and I got iced tea.

    The burgers were excellent! Tasty, cooked well done. Great flavor, and not too greasy (but just greasy enough!). Ian had his with catsup, and I had may and lettuce.

    The fries were not all that good. They were super crispy, and seemed to be shells with little potato. That sounds strange, but that’s what I thought about them.

    The iced tea was good. It had free refills, while the sodas from the fountain were one serving, one payment.

    We got in there just after 1500, and the place was about half full. We left at 1530, and it was still about half full. The check for the two of us was $15.17.

    Really good.

    In a related note, I can recommend the snack bar at the Lincoln Park course as well. I’ve had cheeseburgers in there twice, and a really good grilled ham and cheese.

    “Cats” Tour, Oklahoma City

    10 April 2010

    The kids and I went to see the national touring company of Cats last night. We would normally had all four of us, but my very cute buy quiet-deserving roommate chose to stay home and relax.

    We got there about 1940 for the 2000 show, but there were some power problems, and the show didn’t start until almost 2100. One comment I would have made to the staff of the Oklahoma City Civic Center Music Hall: instead of trapping a couple thousand people in the atrium, maybe next time, let us take our seats?

    When the show started, all minor gripes melted away. Most shows, I have a consistent complaint that the sound is too loud. Recent concerts by Elton John and Bill Joel, and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, were just too blasted loud. Not Cats. The individual performers had microphones, and the balance between the singers and the live mini-orchestra was perfect.

    The singing was matched by the dancing. The cast acted like cats, while doing some pretty darn good dancing.

    We sat in the Mezzanine level. I was a bit concerned that we would be too far away to see anything, but it turned out to be a good view.

    It was a great two and a half hour show.

    Casa de los Milagros, Oklahoma City, OK

    9 April 2010

    Casa De Los Milagros Mexican Restaurant and Cantina on Urbanspoon

    This evening, we had the not unusual situation of not knowing where we would like to eat dinner. After a bit of sitting and looking, we decided to try Milagros.

    We got there around 1730, and were seated immediately, the place had few tables filled.

    One issue – the place was COLD. There was cold air blowing down everywhere. I had to go back out to the car to get jackets for the kids. We asked one of the hosts to turn the AC down (i.e. make it warmer), but nothing happened for a bit. We asked one of the servers, and something was finally done. The restaurant temperature was quite uncomfortable, and I got the impression that the hosts didn’t really give that much of a darn about what we thought.

    I ordered the two ground beef enchiladas, Raegan got two sour cream chicken enchiladas, Ian got chicken quesadillas, and Erin got cheese quesadillas.

    I was not impressed by my meal. It was not bad, it just was not good. Erin ate most of hers, and Ian ate all of his. Raegan’s chicken enchilada was, on the other hand, very good.

    We got a couple desserts. I got a rice pudding that was OK, and the sopapilla that Erin got was pretty good. Raegan got a Pecan Pralines and liked it.

    We left at 1830. Our check was $52.51.

    If friends wanted to go here for dinner, we would go. I don’t know that we would go back just ourselves.

    Shartel Grill, Oklahoma City, OK

    30 March 2010

    Raegan and Erin had eaten here a couple months ago, and thought it was OK. Sunday, I needed a place to eat that was near NWX and Ann Arbor, and Shartel Grill fit that requirement OK.

    We got there around 1300, and the place had maybe four tables occupied. You order and pay at the counter, then the food is brought out to you. They have self service drinks. The iced tea was pretty good.

    I got a chicken fried steak. I was asked if I would like it breakfast style, with eggs and hashbrowns, or lunch/dinner style, with mashed potatos. I got it breakfast style. This was the second place I have been to that offered this choice without my asking; I like it! The CFS was pretty darn good. They bread it up by hand, and the gravy was decent. Overall, I’d say that CFS was about an 8.5 out of 10. The hash browns and eggs were good also.

    Raegan got a chicken salad crossount. She said it was pretty good.

    Erin got a bowl of baked potato soup. She didn’t like it. I tried it, and while it wasn’t bad, there was an odd flavor to it that neither Raegan or I could identify positively. I didn’t like it either. We ended up leaving that on the table.

    Ian got a cheeseburger. I shortstopped it before he got it and tried it, it was really good.

    We left about 1345 or so. The service was decent, and our check was about $45. Not unreasonable. The place might have had wifi, but I’m not sure, the signal was weak and you couldn’t get an IP address from it, and the SSID was the always-informative “linksys”.

    Pepperoni Grill, Penn Square Mall, Oklahoma City, OK

    27 March 2010

    Pepperoni Grill on Urbanspoon

    We had dinner here Thursday with some friends. There used to be a couple of the Pepperoni Grills around the metro area, but this is the last one left. We had not eaten at this restaurant for a couple years at least.

    We ordered Bruscetta to start. The bread was wonderful! Toasted and crunchy, with just the right amount of garlic. The tomatoes were fresh and excellent.

    R2 and I got chicken marsala. We both thought it was pretty good. Jackie got chicken risotto, and Trace got the soup and salad. The Ceasar salad looked really good; none was left. Olivia and Ian got fettuccine alfredo; Ian had chicken in his. He said it was very good. Erin got cheese ravioli and liked it, although she didn’t finish it since she was in near-constant chatter mode.

    The iced tea was good and kept refilled. Our check for seven (four adults, one cranky teenager, and two terribly cute girls) was $86.58. The service was pretty good as well. You get some really nice crusty bread, and Balsalmic vinegar and oil to dip it in, reallly good.

    I think the meal was decent value – when I first saw the check, it took me a second to realize that there were seven of us instead of the usual four. We might want to eat here again, in less than five more years.

    Zorba’s Mediterranean Cuisine, Oklahoma City, OK

    7 March 2010

    Zorba's Mediterranean Cuisine on Urbanspoon

    We have eaten at Zorba’s a couple times over the past couple years. It’s a good place, but we just don’t think of it very often. We went there yesterday with another family we are friends with, for lunch.

    We got a couple Greek salads, and I thought they were really good. The dressing has just a bit of a bite to it, which works well with the green leafy stuff in it. Raegan ordered the pita and hummus and yogurt dip appetizer, which went over really well, and Jackie got the Tabouli and pronounced it excellent.

    I got the gyro dinner. It came with yogurt sauce for dipping and pita. I really liked it, the gyro meat was tasty and had just a hint of spice to it.

    Raegan got the chicken over rice. It was a lot of food, and in spite of me eating some of the chicken and rice, and Erin and Olivia eating some more of the rice, she ended up taking some home. It was really good, the tomato-based sauce really brought some flavor to the chicken.

    Jackie got the Greek Pizza. It had a flat pita crust, and lots of veggies on it. She said it was excellent.

    Erin and Olivia and Jack got chicken kabobs and ate most of them, including the veggies! Good for them.

    The iced tea was excellent, and filled often. I never ran out.

    The kids got a couple churros for dessert, which is a pastry with chocolate to dip it in.

    I don’t know what the check was, but from the menus I think the prices are reasonable. The service was good.

    Zorba’s had a sign up that said that flamenco dancers were there Friday nights, and belly dancers Saturday night. We need to go check those out (especially the flamenco).

    So Mayor Mick Cornett Got Re-Elected

    3 March 2010

    Oklahoma City residents re-elected Mayor Cornett. His margin of victory dropped from about 90% four years ago to about 57% today.

    The real tragedy here is that only 28320 people voted. That’s only about 5% of the population.

    I did not vote for Mayor Cornett. I think that he is a bit too quick to commit taxpayer money to his and his friends pet projects (MAPS not being the only thing), and has not been really up front about the current MAPS projects, their cost, and the independent oversight of those projects, in particular the fate of the Myriad Convention Center.

    I did not like his constant cheerleading for the relocation of the Seattle basketball team to move here at local taxpayer expense, and the obscene amounts of taxpayer money poured into the Ford Center for more “improvements”.

    I hope that the vote margins that changed from last time to this time will be noticed by the Mayor, and that he will do something to maybe curb his enthusiasm for spending our money.

    El Pollo Chulo, Bethany/Oklahoma City, OK

    2 March 2010

    El Pollo Chulo on Urbanspoon

    We have driven past this place about 100 times over the past couple years. It reminded me of the El Pollo Loco chain in California, a place I really like.

    So this evening, we decided to eat dinner here since we were tight on schedule, and the place is fairly near the school. There are apparently two of these, one down on 23rd, and this one on 50th, just east of MacArthur.

    Erin ordered grilled salmon and french fries. They were not really fries, they were more baked potato wedges. I really liked the one I snagged. Erin said it was all good, and she ate most of hers.

    Ian got a chicken burrito. He ate all of it. That says something.

    Raegan got a deluxe chicken burrito, with added beans and stuff, and thought it was OK.

    I got a half grilled chicken. It was small. The parts that had some decent meat were very good. The chicken is marinated in a citrus bath that adds a faint but pleasant flavor to the meat. The only downside is that the chicken was significantly charred on some parts of it. I got a Spanish Rice/Pinto Beans combination for one of my sides, and spaghetti (REALLY!) for the other. Both were good, I wouldn’t mind having the spaghetti as a main dish.

    The tea was good, and self service.

    This place was not anything like El Pollo Loco. It was kind of an odd combination of Chipotle Grill, and Moe’s, and something else.

    The place had one table occupied when we got there at 1730, and one table occupied when we left at 1830. Our check for four was $32.55.

    The place has wi-fi. I have taken to scanning all restaurants and “public” places for wi-fi, since the Blackberry makes an excellent portable scanner.

    I would eat here again.

    Billy Joel and Elton John Concert, Face to Face Tour 2010

    27 February 2010

    My very cute and music-loving roommate and I went to see this concert last night at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City. We had seats in Section 107, which was just a bit above eye level with the two stars.

    I like Billy Joel’s music, and I like some of the Elton John’s stuff also. The concert was an unexpected pleasure.

    First of all, I’ve got to say up front: if you are a sound guy, please pay attention to this. LOUDER IS NOT NECESSARILY BETTER. Music that is largely vocal and/or acoustic (piano comes to mind) should not cause your ears to hurt as it is being played. That was the only real down from this show, but it is unfortunately that way for many concerts.

    The two stars came out at about 1940, sat down, and started playing. An Elton John song went first, then a Billy Joel song. They played and sang together, and did it really well. Well coordinated piano, and trading song verses like a well-oiled machine. It was occasionally really hard to hear the words because of the high sound pressure levels (distortion), but that didn’t seem to matter to the thousands of fans in the Ford Center who knew the songs by heart.

    The Ford Center was packed. We think it was sold out. Wikipedia reports the capacity of the place as 20,817, and I think it was that full.

    After about ten songs, Billy Joel took a break, and Elton John performed solo for about an hour. He didn’t say anything to the crowd, he just sat and played. He got up a couple times and signed autographs for people near the stage, but otherwise it was just straight playing. That man can play a piano! His music was from the 60s and 70s.

    When Billy Joel took his break, his grand piano disappeared straight down through the floor, then a replacement floor slid into place. Very cool. The band members on the upper part of the stage also did the disappear-down-the-hole trick. The members of the band did great work with the various guitars and the drums.

    After Elton was done, his piano sank into the stage and Joel’s came back up. More amazing piano work! The music he played was mainly from the early 80’s. At one point, he got a guitar (the piano did it’s sinking thing again) and did a great version of “We Didn’t Start The Fire”. Joel also did some talking to the crowd, identifying the band members, cracking a few jokes (he sang “Uptown Girl”, and afterward he cracked “and then she divorced me”), and introducing the songs by year and album. He played a version of “Oklahoma” at one point, which was a nice touch. He was very personable.

    Joel’s piano also rotated like a Lazy Susan, so the entire crowd could see all sides of him.

    After about an hour, John’s piano came back up again, and the two of them went back at it for another half hour.

    In spite of the too-loud speakers, you could clearly hear the crowd singing loudly along with the performers. There must have been thousands singing along with every song. Raegan and I sang along, or rather bellowed, and I could not usually hear myself sing, much less her right next to me.

    The two of them did a beautiful duet of “Candle In The Wind”. Joel also did another rendition of “Oklahoma”.

    Surprisingly, in spite of the crowd shouting, there were no encores.

    All being said, this was a really, really good show. It happens to be the most expensive pair of tickets I have ever paid for a show of any kind. That includes a number of Broadway productions and two different Las Vegas major shows (Phantom and Mama Mia). Given that it was two major stars, and the fact that the concert was almost solid music for three and a half hours, it was worth it. I do wish the sound had been better managed.

    Pappy’s BBQ, Oklahoma City, OK

    26 February 2010

    Pappy's World Famous BBQ on Urbanspoon

    I was driving over to a certain hamburger place for lunch today, when I drove past Pappy’s. It’s on the corner of Reno and May Avenue. I’ve driven past it a lot over the years. Once (this has to be in the mid-80’s) I went there for breakfast, when the building was some other restaurant altogether.

    So today, I looked at it as I was waiting for the light, and decided that I had had enough cheeseburgers for one week (surprising even myself) and had not had enough BBQ (less surprising). I flipped a U by the Fairgrounds and headed back.

    I got there shortly after 1100. There is a Pappy’s Cafe next door. The BBQ place had about 10 tables, and two of them were occupied. The people running the place were super friendly. I had my order carried to a table before I had paid for it.

    I got a two meat with ribs and brisket. The ribs were excellent – an 8 out of JTs. They were not the most meaty ribs I’ve had, but they were tender, had that dark red crust on the outside, and did not have the “grilled” taste. They were not terribly smokey, which in this case is too bad.

    The brisket – on reflection, I think that brisket was the best I’ve ever eaten! It was really moist, without being greasy.

    They had three kinds of BBQ sauce – mild, sweet, and hot. The mild was good but had little bite. The sweet was pretty bland. The hot wasn’t very hot and had good flavor. I mixed the hot and mild about half and half and liked it.

    I got slaw and beans for the sides. The beans were outstanding – great taste. The slaw was a good, basic creamy slaw. The two sides were great.

    The iced tea was excellent and strong and serve yourself. Great stuff.

    The meal is served on a piece of wax paper on a tray. The serving sizes were a little small. There were two ribs and maybe 4 oz of brisket. My check was $14.21

    Overall, this was a good meal, if perhaps a bit expensive. I would be glad to eat here again. I may even have to try out the cafe next door.

    Lee’s Sandwiches, Oklahoma City, OK

    20 February 2010

    Lee's Sandwiches on Urbanspoon

    I noticed this place on Classen in Oklahoma City a couple years ago as we passed by. It’s near the meeting place for Ian’s Scout troop. This is useful, since I often drop him at the meeting, and go camp out and catch up on work, or do stuff at school, until the meeting is over. I like my “camping” spot to have iced tea and things like cookies.

    I looked it up online, and found to my surprise that it was a chainlet. I was out in California a couple weeks before, and found that I had passed right by a Lee’s in Garden Grove, CA several times.

    So today, after a Girl Scout activity, we decided to check Lee’s out. We got there around 1220 or so, and left around 1330.

    The smell of baking bread in the place when we walked in was wonderful!

    We noticed pretty quickly a couple signs that said that Lee’s was cash only – no credit cards. Curiously enough, the place DOES take gift cards! I am sort of biased against most places that don’t take plastic. It’s almost as if they don’t want customers; I can certainly comply with that.

    One thing I just remembered – there is an ATM in the place for people to get cash to pay for a meal. The ATM is owned by Lee’s. So they don’t take credit cards, but they will gladly charge a $2 fee for you to get money to spend in their store – a nice little racket.

    I ordered a daily special of beef stew and a baguette. The bread was really, really good, and it was HUGE. The stew… not so much. It was in a thick gravy. The taste was an herb I didn’t recognize. Raegan said it was coriander. I did not like it. The stew consisted of big chunks of carrots and beef. The beef was tough and tasteless, stringy, and had a lot of fat. I tossed it after having about 1/3 of it. It takes a LOT for me to toss food. The baguette came home with us, so we can have it with dinner.

    Erin had a ham and cheese that was heated it. It was OK. Raegan had a ham, turkey, and cheese. It was OK. The bread was the best part.

    The place had wifi. The iced tea was OK. Our check for three was $22.82. I do not think I will go back again, at least to this one. I might try a Lee’s in one of the towns I visit to see if they are the same.

    Jersey Mike’s Subs, Oklahoma City, OK

    16 February 2010

    Today was a well-earned Federal and school holiday (except for son Ian), and we had errands to run about OKC, so we decided to check out the Jersey Mike’s location on 23rd in Oklahoma City, across from OCU.

    The three of us got there around 1200. The place is kind of small (about 10 tables). We got ordered and sat down. The place was bloody cold! Even very warm-blooded Bill put his coat back on. Talking in the third person suddenly.

    We got our food in decent time. I ordered a cheesesteak, with mushrooms instead of peppers, on wheat. It was OK. On a scale of 1 to Geno’s/Pat’s, it was about a 7. It didn’t have wiz, it had sliced provolone. The mushrooms were really chopped up fairly fine. I got a regular sandwich. It filled me up until about 1600, when I started getting hungry again. I also got some Ms Vickie’s Smokehouse BBQ chips, which I discovered out in Sacramento a couple years ago – they are excellent! I got tea, it was OK.

    My very cute and sandwich-loving roommate for a Chicken Parmesan on wheat. Except – it came on white. Not good responsiveness. She ate about 3/4 of it, pronouncing it “OK”. I ate the rest of it, and had to agree. She got some Ms. Vickie’s Sea Salt chips – they are excellent also.

    Erin got a ham and cheese, and had it heated up. It didn’t stay warm long in that meat locker. She said it was OK. Raegan and I tried it and liked it – the ham was really good. Raegan ate most of the rest of it, liking it better than her sandwich.

    When we left about 1300, the place was about 3/4 full. Most of the business seemed to be takeout. Our check was about $30.

    Would I go here again? Yes, if someone else wanted to go, you could do worse than eat at a Jersey Mikes. One thing we couldn’t figure out: every once in a while someone would ring a bell (like a hotel desk clerk bell), and the crew would shout YEA like they had just eaten Robin’s minstrels. Wonder why?

    Ricky’s Cafe, Oklahoma City, OK

    5 February 2010

    Ricky's Cafe on Urbanspoon

    I had lunch here with a friend on whom I was pushing Girl Scout cookies. It is on 23rd Street between I-235 and the State Capitol.

    The place was about 90% full when we got there around 1150, and about 60% full when we left around 1300.

    Ricky’s is Mexican food. I got the #2 (I think) lunch special, and Pat got the #9. Hers was three chicken tacos, and mine was three shredded beef enchiladas. I liked mine just fine. It did not come with any beans or rice. You do get chips, salsa, and queso, and tortillas if you want. I had a sopaipilla for dessert.

    This was a basic, quick lunch. You could do far worse. Our check for two (I was pushing cookies, after all) was $16.93.

    Some More Cool Things From The Air

    31 January 2010

    I went up to Omaha in early January, and I saw some cool things on the trip up and back.

    Flying OKC-DFW, we went a bit west. This is Girl Scout Camp E-Ko-Wah, east of Marlow, OK. Erin and Raegan have been to camp here.

    Flying into Eppley, we came in over the train yards in Council Bluffs, IA. There was a train turntable.

    I do not know what the tall structure is in the right lower center of the picture. It looks like a train could come in under it. A coal loading building?

    Coming back from Omaha, we came right down I-35. This is my neighborhood.

    The longish lake in the lower left quadrant of the photo is along Air Depot; the right side of the lake is Hefner Road. My neighborhood Apple Valley is the upper right quadrant of the intersection. There is still a lot of snow from the 24 Dec 2009 blizzard.

    This is Tinker Air Force Base and Lake Draper. You can see the Northrop Grumman and Boeing buildings on the right side of the picture.

    This is downtown Oklahoma City from just northwest. You can see the Ford Center, the Myriad Convention Center, and the National Memorial.

    This is Moore, OK.

    I almost missed this, since I was focused on looking out the left side of the airplane. Lake Overholser in western Oklahoma City was on the right side of the airplane, and it had ice on it! I barely got a decent shot.

    That’s the western part of the Kilpatrick Turnpike in the picture.

    After we overflew OKC, I got a better shot of E-Ko-Wah camp.

    That’s it!

    Swadley’s BBQ, Oklahoma City, OK

    25 January 2010

    Swadley's Bar-B-Q on Urbanspoon

    Today, after returning from the weekend Girl Scout camp, my very cute and hungry roommate announced we were going to lunch, NOW, IMMEDIATELY. She suggested Swadley’s, which we had not visited in some time. So off we went.

    The original Swadley’s is down in Moore. We went to the location in a former Grandy’s on Memorial in north OKC. We have eaten at the Moore location a number of times and enjoyed it, and when the location on Memorial opened several years ago we ate there and liked it also. We had only been there once.

    We got there and ordered. I ordered a two-meat with brisket and chicken, with green beans and mac and cheese for the sides. I actually got “sweet beans”, I guess that sounded like “green” when I ordered. The max and cheese was excellent, really, really good. The sweet beans were basically baked beans with some brisket in them, and they were pretty good also. The brisket – excellent. It was tender (I got sliced, chopped was another option), and had a good, general taste. It was very lean and didn’t have a lot of beef flavor or smoke flavor, but some BBQ sauce helped that. The chicken was OK, not dry, but it did have some char on the outside. One thing kind of different – the chicken came deboned. The baked beans were OK.

    Swadley’s has three different sauces to choose from. One thing – they are served warm! This is great, since cold sauce is not good on hot ‘Q. The classic, sweet sauce is OK, not too sweet. The thick version is basically the same, and is in fact thicker, but tastes the same. The hot sauce is not too bad at all. I found that a 50/50 mix of the hot and classic sauce was pretty good.

    Erin got turkey, that was OK, almost but not quite dry, and again without a lot of flavor. Raegan got chicken and turkey, and Ian got a… cheeseburger. He got a significant ration of grief for that. The fries were pretty good.

    Overall, Swadley’s seems to be OK. Not bad, not spectacular, but OK. I wonder about how they smoke their meats. The stuff was tender, but just didn’t have too much flavor. Not much hickory? Or mesquite?

    The place had one table occupied when we got there around 1500 Sunday afternoon. Those folks left after about 10 min, and another table was seated as we left around 1600, so it wasn’t too busy. Our check for four was $49 and some change. Swadley’s has servers who will fill your iced tea for you periodically, or you can self-serve. The tea was good; Raegan got sweet tea at one point, and it just about knocked her fillings out, it was so sweet.

    The cheeseburger, BTW, wasn’t bad either.

    Some More Cool Stuff From The Air

    2 January 2010

    In late December, I took a trip to Omaha, NE, and on the way back, I saw some cool stuff from the airplane.

    We flew over Fort Riley, KS. I looked at the base boundaries using Google Maps, and so I do not know if these structures are part of the Fort. When I first saw these, I thought they looked like ordnance storage bunkers, but on looking at the photos I am not so sure. I wonder if they are driving practice areas, or part of a firing range. They area is either the NW part of the post, or NW of the post proper.

    We also got a good look at Milford Lake. It has a causeway most of the way across it, and the ice has piled up north of the causeway.

    Just a bit farther south, we flew over the boundary of the large snowfall that had happened a week before. The picture doesn’t do it full justice, but the patterns of remaining snow was really pretty.

    We flew just to the east of Wichita, and got a good look at the Boeing modification facility that shares a runway with McConnell Air Force Base. I was on the lookout for an E-4B that is in modification at the facility. There is a white aircraft on the ramp, but I think it’s more 737 sized. There is a large greenish airplane nearby that looks B-52 sized.

    Farther south, we flew over downtown Edmond, OK.

    We had good views of NW OKC (this is where St. John’s is located), Lake Hefner, the State Capitol, and downtown OKC.

    On the leg from DFW to OKC, we flew near a number of fairly new mines in southern Oklahoma. I do not know what the mine product is.

    Finally, as we came in to OKC, I got a good view of the new Native American Museum just SE of downtown OKC. That’s a lot of dirt piled up.

    The OKC Blizzard of 2009, From NE OKC

    25 December 2009

    Well, it snowed like crazy here today. The wind was also blowing really hard; I saw a reported gust of 61 at the Oklahoma County Mesonet site.

    These are before and during shots. The first was taken about 0900, and the next about 1600. The first does not look too bad, but at that point it was about a half inch of pure ice. We had sleet and freezing rain for the first part of the event. It started snowing around 1030 or so, and kept snowing until 1900.

    We have snow drifts of about 18″ on the deck:

    There is about a foot of snow drifted on the roof:

    Our front porch is about 7 inches above grade, but with the snow there isn’t any distinction now:

    Our bird feeder was very popular today:

    I will look to get some impressive photos tomorrow morning. It’s the first snowy Christmas in a while.

    25 December 2009 Update:

    The snow made it easy to see the tracks of a deer that came from the wilderness to our east, through the yard, making a scrape, and then off to the yard next door.

    There is a LOT of snow here. The circle in front of the house has about a foot of snow on it:

    That’s Erin at the bottom of the hill after sliding down the driveway on a snow disc.

    The birds are all out and trying to find something to eat. This was holiday-card-perfect, thanks to a little cropping by Raegan.

    We have some huge drifts (more than 3 ft) on the roof. I’m glad the house is built with 2×6 rafters.

    There are amazing drifts around the house.

    I like the way the wind sculpted the snow around the mailbox.

    All this snow, and in typical Oklahoma fashion, the temperature here at the house at 1419 is about 35F, so there is already liquid water dripping from the roof, so some melting is already happening. It’s probably going to be a yucky mess in the next couple days.

    Media Coverage of the 2009 OKC Blizzard

    24 December 2009

    Well, the OKC area is under a blizzard warning, the first I can remember. The local TV stations started wall-to-wall weather coverage at some point before 0830.

    Right now they have a lot of people out standing at intersections watching snow come down, and driving around watching snow come down.

    I don’t know that it’s necessary to put your employees at risk just to show your station is keeping it’s viewers informed. For severe events like tornadoes, the areas affected are typically small enough that you have to spread people out to catch that elusive video. But for larger, synoptic scale events like a snowstorm, pretty much everywhere in a couple hundred square mile area is affected, and the pictures from the parking lot of the station look the same as the view out my windows, and the view out of windows in Moore, Norman, and Warr Acres.

    We had constant, steady sleet here for about four hours, and for the past hour or so it’s been pure snow. Pretty impressive, and it’s supposed to last for another eight or ten hours.

    Irma’s Burger Shack, Oklahoma City, OK

    24 December 2009

    Irma's Burger Shack (Midtown) on Urbanspoon

    I just knew I was forgetting something. Last week I went to Irma’s for lunch with a friend. I have driven past the Irma’s that is at 63rd and Classen many times, and saw in The Oklahoma Gazette Best of OKC poll that Irma’s had been voted best burgers. So when Pat suggested the uptown location, what could I say?

    We got there around 1140 on a Monday and were immediately seated. The place was about 30% full.

    There are a lot of things on the menu. We both got the Irma’s signature “No-Name Burger”. This is a six-oz burger that is allegedly made from Oklahoma beef. At $7 a pop, it’s not inexpensive. I found it to be OK. Not spectacular but not bad either. I started the meal with some of Irma’s chili, since it was kind of blustery outside. That chili was pretty darn good. It has the right texture, heat, and taste to it. It was the best part of the meal. We got onion rings to go with the meal, and they were pretty good also.

    Irma’s has a CFS that is claimed to be hand-breaded and with home-made gravy; that’s what I am going to try next.

    We left around 1300, and Irma’s was about 90% full. The check for the two of us was about $25.00. Service was pretty good; I never ran out of iced tea.

    The restaurant’s web site is

    The MAPS 3 Election

    10 December 2009

    I saw yesterday where MAPS 3 passed in OKC. I think it has a bit of risk to it, given that the projects are not actually what were voted on, and that the Mayor and City Council can change the projects as they wish. I hope that if this monied corporate welfare program tanks, the Mayor and City Council people that pushed it get to pay the electoral price for it.

    MAPS 3 Debate on Flashpoint Today

    6 December 2009

    I am still undecided about MAPS 3. Today I watched Flashpoint on KFOR, which was a “debate” about MAPS 3. It wasn’t much of a debate.

    There was one guy, Porter Davis, who clearly is not for MAPS 3. Arrayed around him were three fervent MAPS 3 supporters, Kirk Humphreys, Mike Turpen, and Ron Norick.

    Davis tried to make points about what he thought was wrong about MAPS 3. While the other side also tossed out rebuttal, there were also a lot of personal attacks, particularly from Humphreys. He did make a couple valid points pertaining to statements made by Davis about Humphreys land ownership interests, and Davis admitted he had bad information, but Humphreys kept repeating “you were wrong” probably five or six or more times. Humphreys also made a personal attack on Davis pertaining to Davis moving out of Oklahoma to live somewhere else due to concerns about Y2K. About what I would expect of him.

    Even Mike Turpen got into the personal attack mode, demanding to know if Davis had visited the MAPS stuff already built, and talking about how many investment dollars had been spent in response to the public money that have been spent.

    I don’t know Davis, for that matter I don’t know that I know anyone who knows him. But I think he got the shaft on KFOR this morning. And good for him to go on that program, and know that was going to happen.

    Davis mentioned his website this morning ( I visited the website, and find that some of the information on it seems to make sense.

    I’m going to read the election ballot today and come to a decision about how to vote. I am really not happy about how some of MAPS 3 is happening, but I do want OKC to advance and grow some. I don’t know that we need to spend somewhere between $300M and $500M for Myriad/Cox Convention Center replacement. But maybe as a corporate jobs program, or a local stimulus package, that’s OK. Except that the main benefactors are going to be the already-monied corporate interests.

    I’ll update later.

    Pro-MAPS Ads in OKC

    28 November 2009

    There are a couple ads running on TV in support of the MAPS 3 proposal. I have already said that I am not necessarily either a supporter or detractor or MAPS 3.

    At least one of the pro-MAPS 3 ads uses the term “does not raise taxes” several times. I am not sure that statement is honest. The existing MAPS sales tax is going to expire (in April 2010, I think). MAPS 3 proposes extending that sales tax for a number of years. So, MAPS 3 is a tax increase; MAPS 3 raises taxes. It may not raise the tax rate, but in the end, it raises the taxes extracted from the OKC economy.

    At a minimum, the pro-MAPS people ought to tell it like it is.

    Memo To News Media

    27 November 2009

    I would like to point out to the news media in general: It’s Not News If It Happens All The Time

    Examples of this:

  • “Black Friday” or “Cyber Monday”, especially when it is reported day after day before. This includes “stories” about people camping out a couple days before the stores open.
  • T-Short shops gearing up to print T-shirts after some sporting event (like the Cotton Bowl).
  • Boxing day: People queuing up to return presents they don’t want.
  • This is all filler, as far as I am concerned. It is not news.

    MAPS 3

    15 November 2009

    I am of a couple minds about the MAPS series of projects (and for that matter, the closely related efforts to get the OKC Thunder basketball team here). It has always seemed to me that our city leaders were more for the sports and business-oriented parts before the parts that most of the public can benefit from.

    We’ve spent hundreds of millions of taxpayer-provided dollars for what can be argued are big-ticket items that few people can directly enjoy. We dug the OKC Ditch (er, Bricktown Canal), gave the franchise to a single company, that then charges high, non-competitive prices to take citizens on boat rides; this mainly benefits the single boat operator. We spent many millions to dam the Oklahoma nee North Canadian River, then the City Council promptly passed an ordinance making it a criminal offense to put a boat in there, except for the rowers, a water taxi, or a kayaking rental place. We spent millions building the Ford Center, then put ANOTHER $70M into it to get a basketball team that only seats about 4000 people at a time (and many of those tickets are with season ticket holders, which restricts the general public), and it’s too expensive for most people anyway. We spent a large number of dollars to update Civic Center Music Hall; again, it’s a limited use to the general public since it’s a limited audience and it’s relatively expensive to go. Some of the money went to finance Bass Pro Shop, which is owned by the Gaylords, and which family unsurprisingly supported MAPS wholeheartedly.

    The stuff that the general public could use, for example the trails along the river, were among the last things to be completed. The VERY last? The Downtown Library, arguably the most useful and accessible to the public venue on the list.

    I’m all for OKC getting upgraded. But one thing that bothers me, we have had arguably conservative/Republican leaders for the last three mayors, and in the Council, and one of the Republican keystones is local business investment to make Good Things Happen. MAPS is more like a government-run jobs or corporate welfare program for a few people or companies that already have huge amounts of money.

    Mayor Cornett was on KFOR Flashpoint this morning, and one thing he and former mayor Humphries kept saying was “a vote against MAPS 3 is a vote against Oklahoma City advancing”. Well, Mr. Mayors, where is the anti-tax conservatism? Where is the direct investment from local firms (and I don’t mean getting Chesapeake Energy to finance a rowing boathouse on the Oklahoma River)? Where is the investment from the Thunder management/ownership? Why don’t the Bricktown companies that are the recipients of all this City largess finance the supposedly critically needed upgrades to or replacement of the Myriad/Cox Convention Center? The Mayors (and even Democrat Mike Turpin) kept talking about how we All Have To Pull Together if we want OKC to advance, but I’m not seeing any cash promises from any of the already-monied interests around here.

    MAPS as a concept is not a bad idea. But it just smells bad to me; a not-so-vast business-wing sorta-conspiracy of corporate welfare and good-old-boy networking.

    Coits, Oklahoma City

    14 November 2009

    Coit’s is an established drive in that has a couple locations around OKC. I used to eat at the location at Portland and 50th quite often when I lived near there.

    Yesterday I decided to hit Coit’s for a quick cheeseburger and some root beer. Coit’s makes excellent root beer, and a couple months ago, we found out that they started doing free refills! I had three mugs of the stuff with lunch.

    I got a hickory double cheeseburger there yesterday. The hickory sauce had a fine, smoky flavor to it, and there was not too much, so the burger wasn’t messy. Usually, the meat there is really good, but it seemed a little flat yesterday, not much beef flavor. Nonetheless, it was good stuff for a quick lunch. I was in about 1115 and out at 1140, and the check was $8.

    Recycling at OKC Airport

    13 November 2009

    When I got in from my most recent trip, I noticed something new in the terminal area: recycling containers! They had some for newspaper, and cans, and plastic.

    I say BRAVO!

    I’ve seen recycling containers for paper at several other airports, including DFW and SAN. Some flight attendant crews for American will sort out cans and newspapers for recycling. Good for all of these. I’m glad that OKC has joined in what is a good thing.

    InnoTech, Oklahoma City

    6 November 2009

    A friend who works for Sprint got me a couple tickets to InnoTech 2009. I must confess, I had not heard of InnoTech before this. When I looked at the conference tracks on the website they looked interesting.

    I signed up online and marked the date in my Blackberry.

    I was not interested in the two keynote addresses, so I decided to show up about 0900 for the first thing I was interested in (moving websites up in the search engine rankings) at 0915.

    I got there in good time. There were four computers, two for pre-registered people, one dedicated to exhibitors and speakers, and one for un-registered people. Neither of the pre-register computers recognized me, which I find highly annoying. That meant I had to go to the end of a line of about 20 people who were either un-registered or were in the same boat I was in, having their pre-registrations LOST. I didn’t get through that line and get my badge until 0945; the track I was interested in was winding up as I got there. So that was a huge waste of time, so far.

    I went to another on deployment of alternate desktops at the OU Health Sciences Center. That was interesting and I learned a couple things about mobile desktops and virtual machines.

    Unfortunately, that was the end of the stuff I was interested in. I went to the exhibits area. There were a number of interesting things to look at there.

    I saw a number of people that I had not seen in a couple years, including a number of people that used to work for either my Large Defense Contractor employer or one of the Slightly Smaller And Eaten Defense Contractors that had been bought by their larger competitor.

    I think that InnoTech needs a couple more computers to check people in. It would be nice if they would not lose pre-registration information.

    I like the fact that they have some software developer tracks in the conference. I hope that this kind of practical knowledge will be expanded on in future conferences.

    OKC Philharmonic Discovery Concert

    11 October 2009

    This afternoon we took the kids to a Discovery Concert. The Oklahoma City Philharmonic puts on a couple of these each year to introduce kids to symphonic music. It’s a good idea – the tickets are inexpensive ($9 each), and the seating of open. The pieces that are player are usually shorter movements, and are themed; in this case, the theme was loosely Halloween.

    Most of the orchestra members had some form of costume, and a lot of the audience did to. They played five pieces, and did a great job. The only thing missing, we thought they had advertised music from Phantom of the Opera, but nothing from that show was on the final bill.

    The Philharmonic had a quartet of singers as well, they sang three numbers, including a pretty funny “The Twelve Days of Halloween”, set to “The Twelve Days of Christmas”. The singers had good voices, and seemed to be having a good time.

    The concerts are pretty short; this one lasted about an hour and a half, and there are lots of worse ways to spend $36 on a Sunday afternoon.