4050 W. Memorial Rd.
Oklahoma City, OK
I am willing to look in unconventional places for good food, and a number of on-line reviews led me to try the cafeteria in the Heart Hospital in far north Oklahoma City (located just east of Mercy Hospital).
I had once done a pretty thorough sampling of the hospital food in El Paso, Texas, finding at the time that only Sierra Hospital made my “return visit” list (and this was because of their Mexican food). Hospital cafeterias are a good way to save money, and if you can find good food to go along with it this can be a good choice.
The short answer about A La Heart Cafe is that there is reason for the good reviews. Not only did I like the food, but there is a very good selection of items. Much of it is geared toward hospital employees who need to eat on the run, but many of the items are more on the gourmet side (although already prepared and ready to eat when you get there).
A La Heart has a changeable menu, with certain days of the week being “Mexican,” “Italian,” or “Asian” days. The soups, sandwiches, and salads, though, seem to be constant, and do not change from day to day. A La Heart publishes their daily menu on the Internet.
Some of my family has tried the Mexican food from the cafe on the “Mexican” day, and advised me against ordering it (mostly knowing that I would be disappointed after having the El Paso version).
I will also make the disclosure that I purposely tried A La Heart on a day when they served chicken pot pie, knowing that this would likely be one of my favorite items here.
Chicken Pot Pie
The Chicken Pot Pie was not only good, but I would say it exceeded my expectations. Visually it was similar to the frozen pot pies you get at the grocery store, but the one here was freshly made, full of flavor, and was not loaded with salt. The good thing about this is that it was “normal food” (and not, as I had feared, something devoid of flavor so as to be “healthy”). The only thing this was missing was the “processed” flavor that you get in the store-bought pot pies, and to me this is a very good thing.
I did not try the Pot Roast myself, but I was told it was excellent, and should be on the “best items” list (and it is so listed). If you are expecting meat and vegetables mixed together, be advised that they sell the potatoes and vegetables separately (the entire serving with vegetables was about $5).
I also liked the Minestrone Soup, which I thought was a little on the spicy side (it’s better to have too much flavor than to have too little). Like the pot pie, it seemed to be freshly made and healthy without tasting like “hospital food” that was prepared for patients on a special diet.
15 Bean Soup
The 15 Bean Soup was also quite good, but like the minestrone only comes in one size (about double what I consider as a normal soup serving). Again, this does not taste like typical hospital food.
I am just beginning to compile a list of items I have tried, but the Mashed Potatoes were quite good. I would rate them as having an excellent flavor and texture. The only thing that was somewhat of a miss was the gravy (brown gravy) that I thought could have been more flavorful.
The Peas and Carrots did not have much salt or flavor. The first part I liked, because I can add my own salt if needed (but it really was not needed). The flavor was actually all right, just not as robust as some that are probably less healthy (I am just making an assumption here).
Green Beans had a good texture and were not too crunchy. I give them a good rating for the flavor.
A La Heart has a salad bar in which you take whatever you want, and they charge you according to how much it weighs. I wasn’t sure how expensive this would turn out to be, but it was reasonably priced, and I would not hesitate to “load up”
Not all of the salad items were very memorable, but I did like the Three Bean Salad very much.
The Cobbler I ordered was not one of the most special ones I have ever tried, but it was fine, and like the other items, did not break the bank.
The Chocolate Cake was also good, but of course is not like the one you will get at La Baguette. It is also a lot cheaper than La Baguette (and makes a satisfying dessert).
If you are coming here strictly for the food (and you will likely be in good company), check their on-line menu. The main items change daily, and my family has found that some are better than others. Although it is a cafeteria, some of the items (such as the chicken pot pie) really exceed what you would think you would get in a cafeteria, and are more like restaurant food.
I was not sure if they would run out of the “special items” quickly, but apparently they prepare an adequate supply, and keep serving the food until closing time (which I think is 10:00 PM).