Maggie’s Cafe–Bethany, OK

Maggie’s Cafe (Closed)
6315 N.W. 39th Expressway
Bethany, OK
Maggie's Cafe

Maggie’s Cafe

Date of Review: May 2011


Note: Maggie’s Cafe was my introduction to Polish food, and the more I ate there the more I wanted to try other things (but it closed shortly after I started going).  There were many positive reviews of it on the Internet, not from people who had a Polish background, but from people who just liked good food.  This “old” review of a closed restaurant may at least provide an introduction to the cuisine of Poland.


From the outside Maggie’s Cafe looks much like many other diners and small restaurants in the heartland, but even the large sign in front does not divulge what seems to be its best kept secret–that this is probably the only place in the OKC metro that serves Polish food. At least this was a secret to me until I first heard rumors about it and then found information on the Internet leading me to Maggie’s Cafe.

Maggie’s has the standard American menu found in many other restaurants, but I would say this type of home cooked style food is more common in Oklahoma’s small towns than in Oklahoma City. On my first visit it seemed as if they were doing a booming business in pork chops, but the breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus all had their own most popular dishes (breakfast is only served until 11:30 a.m.).

When I first visited Maggie’s in the summer of 2010 the restaurant was open for dinner on Fridays and Saturdays, with a special Polish menu served on both days (the largest selection of items was on Friday night). Maggie’s is no longer open for dinner, but all of the Polish specialities are available at lunch (and I believe some are on the breakfast menu).

Cabbage rolls

Golabki, or Polish style cabbage rolls with sauerkraut and Polska salata

One thing I discovered about Polish food is that most of the items served look similar to German food, but they are prepared differently. For instance, the Golabki seemed similar to other cabbage rolls I have tried, with mushrooms and beef encased in cabbage leaves. It was not as highly seasoned, though, as many other cabbage rolls, and the tomato sauce on top gave more of a slight flavor to the rolls than a strong, overpowering one. These rolls were quite flavorful, but all the flavors were more subtle than I had expected. After several visits to Maggie’s Cafe, the cabbage rolls continue to be one of my favorite items.

The Sauerkraut was excellent, and was possibly the best I have tried in the OKC area (although I will have to reevaluate that after trying the one at Ingrid’s Pantry, which is also located in Bethany).

Polska Salatka, a Polish style potato salad, was a little different from most, with peas and carrots mixed in. It had a mustard base, and the potatoes were cut into such small pieces that they were not as predominant as is the case with many potato salads.

Mashed Potatoes that came with the dinner were kind of plain as far as flavor, but they were much like ones that would be served at home where each person can add their own salt or seasonings. Most lunch plates come with a side dish (as opposed to two sides that were served with the dinners), and I would say the mashed potatoes would probably not be my choice when only a single side dish was served.

Placki cyganskie

Placki cyganskie, or potato pancake with goulash

The Placki Cyganskie, or potato pancake with goulash, was the dish Maggie’s advertised as their specialty. While I thought the cabbage roll had a subtle flavor, the potato pancake to me was almost to the point of being bland. This does not mean, though, that I did not enjoy it. On the contrary, I thought this provided a good contrast to the goulash that was stuffed inside like a sandwich, with the pancake serving as a bread (and yes, it was cooked like a pancake that looked as if it came from a grill).

I do not think the Goulash is served separately, but if it were it would be one of my favorite dishes at Maggie’s. The gravy had a very good flavor and the chunks of meat were moist and flavorful.

Pierogi

Pierogi

Pierogi is the dish I have seen mentioned most often by other customers, and I definitely thought it was one of the best dishes served at Maggie’s. This was a fried dumpling with potato and cheese inside, with bacon on top. This description probably does not do it justice, though, because the flavor was quite strong and quite good. I would say the flavor came more from good cheese, fresh potatoes, and flavorful dumplings than from seasonings or other added ingredients. Of course the bacon also played a big part.

Pierogi and side dishes

Pierogi, sauerkraut, green beans, and cucumber salad

Mizeria, a Polish style cucumber salad, sounded more interesting than it turned out to be when I ordered it. I should state, though, that I generally do not care much for creamy dressings or sauces that are similar to the one used in this salad.

American vegetables are also served, of which I have found the Green Beans to be the best I have tried so far. These are cooked with bacon, but they bring bacon flavored green beans to a whole new level than I usually find in American food restaurants.

The American menu at Maggie’s is probably as extensive as at any other American restaurant in town, but based on what I have tried I would probably say it is better than most. The restaurant is small, but well decorated and comfortable. Polish main dishes or side dishes can be ordered along with the American food if customers just want to sample them.

The slices of cake served look more like about a sixth of a cake than the standard sized slice, and they look very good (but I have not tried them). There is really a lot at Maggie’s that I would still like to try.

 


RATING: 23

Cuisine: Polish & American
Cost: $$
Hours: Breakfast & lunch daily
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: No
Special Features: Serves breakfast

Most Recent Visit: May 10, 2011

Number of Visits: 6

Best Items: Golabki, Pierogi, Goulash, Sauerkraut, Green Beans

Special Ratings

star 5 Golabki
star 5 Pierogi
star 5 Placki Cyganskie
star 5 Sauerkraut
star 5 Green Beans
star 5 Polska Salatka
star 4 Mizeria

Bánh Cuón Tây Hò–Oklahoma City, OK

Bánh Cuón Tây Hò (Closed)
2524 N. Military Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK
Bánh Cuón Tây Hò

Bánh Cuón Tây Hò in Oklahoma City

Date of Review: Jun. 2008


Note: Bánh Cuón Tây Hò closed sometime around 2009 or 2010, but until that time was one of the more authentic Vietnamese restaurants in the Asian District. It was part of a California chain of restaurants, and has a good reputation from the reviews I have seen. My review mentions that it changed owners, and I think I had better luck with the first ones (as someone who does not speak Vietnamese and was trying to understand the menu). The best dish I tried was Bánh Cuón (rice sheet wraps), the restaurant’s specialty. Lang’s Bakery, two doors down from the former Bánh Cuón Tây Hò, says they have a similar rice sheet wrap dish (No. 19 on the menu, described as “Slice Vietnamese Ham & Bean Sprouts over White Rice Noodle Sheets”).


It may be easy to miss Bánh Cuón Tây Hò. Located behind the larger Lido Restaurant in the same shopping center, patrons may be misled into the belief that Lido has the larger selection of authentic Vietnamese food, when in fact the menu at Tây Hò is probably just as extensive.

Bánh Cuón Tây Hò is actually “Restaurant #5,” something I discovered by picking up the take-home menu. The one in Oklahoma City is the only non-California location of this chain, and I got the impression that this food is good enough quality to be successful in California’s “Little Saigon” districts.

On my first trip I ordered the Bún, or vermicelli with vegetable dish, but it lacked the flavor I have experienced at Lido and other Vietnamese restaurants.

On a subsequent visit, however, I asked about the recommended dishes, and was told that Bánh Cuón (rice sheet wraps) was a good choice. I figured this must be their speciality, so I tried it. I had not seen rice sheet wraps in any other Vietnamese restaurant, and it was delicious because of the vegetables and sauces that came with it. You actually create your own sauce by adding the desired quantities of fish sauce, chile, and peanuts from containers on the table. Several meats and tofu toppings are available. Recently they began adding yams in a tempura breading to the dish, and I now like it even better than before.

Yam sticks

Yam sticks

The “Yam Sticks” (I don’t know their proper name) can be ordered as a stand-alone order (as shown in the photo above), but I did not care for them this way (I only ordered them because I misunderstood the menu, and thought they were a vegetarian version of the rice wraps).

The Tofu Delight was quite good– comparable to the ones served at some of the better Chinese restaurants. Most Vietnamese restaurants in OKC serve Chinese dishes, but this was one of the few that had a true Chinese flavor.

The special hot tea was really a treat, brewed with loose leaves.

The restaurant has changed somewhat since my first visit in 2005, and seems to have new owners now. For instance, tempura yams have been added to the bánh cuón dishes, and Vietnamese ham is also included. The prices have increased, and some of the dishes seem to have changed. The food is just as good as before, and apparently the “ham and yam” combination is the typical Vietnamese way of serving the dish (although I do not know why it was not served previously).

Hot tea is no longer on the house, and it has not been consistently made with the excellent loose leaves I experienced on my first visit.

On my early visits I did not care much for some of the items other than rice wraps, but that may have changed for the better with the new owners and cooks. I just know that with the exception of some Chinese lunch plates, the restaurant tries to present authentic Vietnamese cooking. I have experimented with a few items, but there is much more available that I have not tried.

 


RATING: 23

Cuisine: Vietnamese
Cost: $
Accessible: Yes
Tea: Jasmine (loose leaves)
MSG: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Buffet: No

Most Recent Visit: Jun. 7, 2008
Number of Visits: 5
Best Items: Bánh Cuón, Hot Tea

Special Ratings
star 5 Bánh Cuón
star 5 Tofu Delight
star 4 Yam Sticks
star 3 Bún (Vermicelli Noodles)

Adobe Grill–Oklahoma City, OK

Adobe Grill Gourmet Mexicano (Closed)
5120 N. Shartel Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK
Adobe Grill

Adobe Grill

Date of Review: Nov. 2008


Note: Adobe Grill served excellent authentic food from the Oaxaca and Puebla regions of Mexico, and I think it serves as a good benchmark for any other restaurants that claim to be authentic.  I did not give the restaurant a rating consistent with this food because I had trouble getting this food.  There were two versions of many items, and depending on who took my order, it either was or was not communicated to the kitchen that I wanted the “authentic” version (I was actually using the names printed on the menu rather than my own somewhat facetious terms).  They would not correct the mistake, and I thought it best to give a rating based on the food I actually got rather than on what I knew they could make but was not always served to me.


When Adobe Grill opened it was not certain that anything other than Tex-Mex would be popular in Oklahoma City, but the authentic food from the interior of Mexico has turned out to be quite a hit with locals. There are a few standard Tex-Mex items added to the menu to appeal to a wider audience such as taco salad, tortilla chips and queso dip. Overall, though, the menu consists of items that would be found in Mexico City or other typical Mexican cities.

Leticia, the owner, has made every effort to provide high quality items as they would be found in Mexico, and she has been quick to point out that the recipes are not hers, but are from her abuelita who comes in every morning to prepare the sauces that will be served that day. I honestly think the level of care taken to provide quality food here is something that will be found in very few Mexican restaurants.

Not all of the food is as spicy as I have indicated on the “chile scale.” Some of the salsas, though, have quite a kick and are comparable to the ones that would be found south of the border. I think one secret to Adobe Grill’s popularity is that it is spicy for those who want it that way, but much of the food has a more moderate heat level that is flavorful without being “dumbed down.”

Queso and salsa

Queso and several types of salsa are served

All the salsas are home made, and of course this is made obvious by the fact that no one else serves the type of salsas that are given to customers here. There is no need to ask for a “spicy” salsa as I do at many restaurants, since several of the ones served are already quite hot. I did not really have a favorite–I enjoyed them all.

Many of the dishes here are typical of the food found in Oaxaca, but I think the emphasis is on the cooking style found throughout the entire southern region of Mexico rather than a single state.

I found the poblano sauce to be the best one served. The name signifies that it is from the state of Puebla, and unlike some other Mexican restaurants that use Mexican place names in their dishes, the recipes at Adobe Grill most likely really originate in the place indicated.

Mole is another sauce that has been consistently good, and while I am impressed by its apparent authenticity, the flavor is not really better than mole from northern Mexico, it is just something different to try that is enjoyable. In any case I do not know of any other restaurant in Oklahoma City that serves mole from the southern part of Mexico, so coming to Adobe Grill will allow diners to judge for themselves whether they prefer this to other styles of mole.

Chipotle is another sauce served at Adobe Grill that is not likely to be found anywhere else. The restaurant provides a free “sampling” plate containing the various sauces so you can decide which one(s) you would like before you order (but I have found that they do not always advise customers that it is available).

Combination plate

“Especial de Corrina” with black beans, tamal, poblano pepper, and taco on a separate plate

Several combination dinners are available that offer a good way to sample the food that is available. The “Especial de Corrina” has the greatest variety of items, and comes with two side dishes. The Chile Relleno (poblano pepper) covers about half the plate by itself, and would make a meal by itself. Since I had help eating this dinner, though, I was able to finish everything that was served, including several items served on separate plates.

The Black Beans on the left of the plate looked enticing, but did not match the ones served at Cafe do Brasil, which are still my favorites. Roasted corn also came with the dinner, and were served on a separate plate.

A Tex-Mex style Tamal was quite good, and in fact was as good as many of the tamales I have eaten in Austin and San Antonio (in the heart of Tex-Mex country). This had a thick and flavorful masa that I thought probably came from a family recipe, and was as carefully prepared as any of the dishes from southern Mexico.

One of the tacos served at Adobe Grill

One of the tacos served at Adobe Grill

I am not sure which version of Tacos was served with the “Especial de Corrina” (shown in the picture above), but this one came with yellow cheese, a crispy shell, and fajita meat. Other tacos are available with soft tortillas and other choices of meat and fillings.

My favorite taco is Tacos de Gilberto, with tortillas dipped in a special sauce, equally good meat, and a garnish of onions, cilantro, lime juice, and sliced avocados. The white cheese sprinkled on top added to the flavor, and I thought this dish alone made it worth going to Adobe Grill. While the other tacos served at Adobe Grill are a step above the ones available at many other restaurants, I thought the tacos de Gilberto were clearly a standout.

Tamal azteca

Tamal azteca wrapped in a banana leaf is the style from southern Mexico

Tamales Aztecas are one of the more authentic dishes served, but I have had mixed results with them. Wrapped in banana leaves and filled with Carne Adobada, I thought the meat was dry and not very flavorful. The masa was good, but I did not like it as much as the Tex-Mex tamales. I think there are so many ways of preparing tamales that there are bound to be some that some people like better than others. I have found all of the ones at Adobe Grill to be as close to the “real thing” (either Mexican or Tex-Mex) as can be found in Oklahoma City.

One of the best features of Adobe Grill has been the service and the home style atmosphere (including hand crafted furniture and decorations). When I made a visit one year on September 16 (one of the most important Mexican national holidays), we were treated to a feast of items that included the ones we ordered and ones that were thrown in free by the owners to help us celebrate the occasion. The Buñuelos given us by the owner made one of the best desserts I’ve had in a long time, and was so much more satisfying than the typical sopaipillas served in OKC restaurants that I would have no hesitation paying extra for them in the future. I know the owners try hard to give everyone a great experience so they will tell their friends.

The actual experiences I have had at Adobe Grill have been mixed, in spite of the owners’ best efforts. For instance, the “Especial de Corrina” pictured above came with the generic version of several of the items even though I asked for the “southern Mexico” versions. Adobe Grill has two or more versions of tacos, enchiladas, tamales, and other dishes, and one of its best features is being able to try the different styles of food that are available. I discovered firsthand, though, that customer’s requests are not always communicated to the kitchen. Everything at Adobe Grill is good, but if you want it prepared a certain way it might be best to talk directly to the owner or manager.

Even though I did not get the “southern Mexico” version of some of the food, I thought a lot of it was typical of central or northern Mexico. The white cheese, sauces, and chiles used were all high quality ingredients that the Mexican people enjoy without worrying about the region of their origins.

It is well worth seeking out the type of Mexican food served here that is so rarely found in the United States. Even the Tex-Mex versions of the dishes are quite notable, and in some cases have made it worth my trip to Adobe Grill. The interior and southern Mexico style food, though, are always interesting and add variety to Oklahoma City’s Mexican food dining scene.


RATING: 23

Cuisine: Mexican
Cost: $$$
Hours: Open Daily except Sat. lunch and Sun. dinner
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: Beer, Sangria

Chile Index: chile 4

Most Recent Visit: Nov. 28, 2008

Number of Visits: 4

Best Items: Tacos de Gilberto, Enchiladas with poblano sauce, Buñuelos

Special Ratings

star 5 Cheese Enchilada Poblano sauce
star 4 Cheese Enchilada Chipotle sauce
star 4 Cheese Enchilada with Mole
star 5 Cheese Enchilada Plain
star 5 Chile Relleno
star 5 Tacos de Gilberto
star 4 Tamales Azteca
star 3 Rice
star 5 Whole Beans
star 5 Chips
star 5 Salsa several varieties
star 5 Flour Tortillas
star 5 Buñuelos