September 13th, 2013 by Brian Schwartz – Comments (6)
What if they opened a restaurant and nobody knew? That’s what happened with Maxxwell’s. And it’s a shame. This restaurant is definitely worth knowing about.
Maxxwell’s opened its doors last Friday. Amanda Simcoe, who knows everything, found out about it on Monday and posted on Facebook. I saw the post and checked Google. Nothing. I managed to get a phone number. Whoever answered told me they offered “sophisticated American comfort food.” Whoever answered also spent about five minutes answering my questions. This is typical of Maxxwell’s. The staff goes out of its way to be helpful.
So off we drove down the mother road, and just past Lewis we saw the sandy brick walls of the Campbell Hotel. Built in 1927, it’s recently been restored to its former glory. On the hotel’s corner, a big retro vertical sign proclaimed “Maxxwell’s”. And in we went.
It’s like a Top Chef challenge. You can imagine old Tom Colicchio (and by the way the first time I met him he was young, shy and had a full head of long hair) telling the contestants, “we want you to design a diner… but make it elegant. Inside we want you to serve traditional diner food… but an elegant gourmet version.” And that’s just what they’ve done. There are booths, or you can sit at the counter. But the wood-trimmed counter is also a full-service bar, and not too many diners are festooned with elegant chandeliers. There are framed photos of old-time Tulsa, including the original Coney Island store downtown. The menu is comforting too, with something for everyone, and prices are low. There are half-pound burgers ($8), lots of sandwiches including warm prime rib ($11), big salads with dressing made in house. In fact, the manager told me, everything is made in house. Made from scratch. That includes the restaurant. No big-name chefs here or veterans of other restaurant. They got their chefs, the manager said, from Culinary Institute of America in New York (two chefs) and local places like Platt. Surprisingly, the top chef isn’t from CIA. “She’s a local woman,” the manager said, “and she’s good!”
I ordered fish and chips ($14). Actually I got only a few chips because for my two sides I asked for two orders of mac & cheese. The fish is beer-battered cod. It’s hard to get beer batter right. They got it right. Great cod too. And the homemade tartar sauce was excellent. I think the fish needed the tiniest bit more seasoning. But basically no complaints. The mac was fine too, a blend of several melted cheeses. Meanwhile, Cathe got meatloaf ($12) with mushroom demi-glace and mashed potatoes.
“Just like Mom made” crows the menu and indeed Mom wouldn’t be ashamed. Rich flavor, chewy (in a good way), moist. Oh I’ve had better, but this one is far better than average. And Betty selected pan-seared chicken breast with Boursin cream sauce ($13). This was very good too.
The moist and tender chicken breast was well served by the creamy Boursin cheese. Still, it was my least favorite entree. Not that I’ve tried all the entrees. They have ribeye steaks ($20), roast beef, chicken tenders ($12), fish tacos ($12), and pork chops ($14). There’s also a nightly fish special. When we went it was pecan-crusted mahi mahi. And of course there are homemade desserts. But we forgot to save room for them.
2636 E 11 Street
918-748-5550 (or phone (855) 744-5500 and ask the hotel operator for Maxxwell’s)
Open daily from 6 AM to 10 PM (separate breakfast menu served in the morning)
Brian Schwartz: Author
Born in NYC, age 0, on my birthday. College in Oxford at age 16. Law School in New Haven, Conn. 6 years travel in Africa and Asia. Haven’t done much lately. Still, I’m the only Tulsa member of the little-known Omega Society. www.theomegasociety.com
I speak enough Chinese to order food not on any English menu. Spanish French Italian too (not fluently but food-ently) My favorite restaurant is Jean-Georges in New York. But those NYC chefs would sell their soul to get the produce available from the farms around Inola.
“A writer writes alone. His words tumble forth from a magical inner void that is mysterious even to himself, and that no one else can enter.” And yet, the most important thing to me the writer is YOU. Without you to hear them, my words are worth less than silence.