December 7th, 2012 by Brian Schwartz – Comments (3)
Cardigan’s… an old Tulsa standby that offers good hearty food and a good hearty welcome.
If you watch a 1930s musical movie about England, you’ll probably see dukes and earls in fancy evening dress singing and dancing around. But if you spied on real-life dukes and earls tramping around their big country estates on a quiet morning they’d probably be wearing an old well-worn treasured favorite cardigan. There’s a reason for that. Cardigans equal comfort. I used to ask a lot of people in New York why anyone would order takeout when for the same price you can savor the elegance of restaurant dining. After a long day at work, one woman replied, we can’t face strangers. We want the comfort of home. In New York, they have takeout for that. In Tulsa, we have Cardigan’s. Walk through the door and you won’t feel lost among strangers. You’ll feel at home. The servers, some of whom have worked there for years and years (Cardigan’s opened in 1991), seem like part of one big family, and the regular customers do too.
The decor, though cosseting, does have a touch of elegance.
In the London Square branch on south Lewis (about 100 feet south of the original home of Cardigan’s), it’s gentle earth-tone walls and leather banquettes and, in back, a bar that looks like the set of “Cheers”. The menu, not surprisingly, offers comfort food. Big portions at gentle prices. Pesto is as trendy as it gets. Big salads, pasta, sandwiches, burgers, grilled steak and seafood, as well as entrees such as chicken-fried steak, meatloaf, sauteed chicken breast. They are known for their stroganoff ($11).
Under that yummy brown sauce and sour cream lattice is fettucine! Not traditional, and indeed the whole recipe is not quite the traditional Stroganoff, but it means you get far more noodles. You have to mix the dish thoroughly just as you would a plate of spaghetti. The sauce has mushrooms, demi glace and red wine and, when you mix in the sour cream and pasta it’s just delicious. It was a huge portion, with lots of chunks of tender beef, and I savored every bite. I even managed to eat one of those buttery toasted baguette slices. And I somehow made room for a taste of Cathe’s quesadilla.
It was a fine quesadilla ($10). Lots of savory beef chunks in a thin flaky (almost phyllo) dough. Cathe loved it! And Betty loved hers too. She started with a nice tomato bisque (only $2.50 with dinner) and then had pasta.
This is Pasta al Pesto ($12) with penne, grilled chicken, artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes in a basil pesto sauce — Cardigan’s most trendy dish. (Yes, pesto was big in 1980′s New York.) Betty said it was great but the portion was so huge she had to cart most of it home. No one leaves hungry at Cardigan’s.
6000 S. Lewis Av. (there’s also a branch in Bixby)
Open daily from 11 AM to 9 PM
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.