It’s a good idea to bring a barrel-sized appetite if you plan to dine at the brand new Apple Barrel Cafe.
In fact, this advice could probably come in handy no matter which of the Tulsa-area Apple Barrel Cafes might frequent. Currently there are four in operation – the original Bixby location is being renovated – and the menu is the same.
Most entrees aren’t served on plates, but on platters, which arrive on the table with generous helpings of all-American comfort food.
A side of ham in a breakfast order, for example, is not a few strips of a processed product, but a good-sized bone-in ham steak, bearing the criss-cross pattern of the grill on which it was seared. just enough to impart a grilled flavor while retaining the juiciness of the ham.
Oklahoma Chicken Fried Steak should be served on a platter, as the steak itself would overwhelm a conventional plate. Even so, there’s barely enough room left for the two sides and the accompanying bun.
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“No one is going to leave here hungry,” said Moean “Moe” Ghanem, who co-owns the brand new Apple Barrel Cafe at 730 W. 23rd St., along with Simon Khatib, who opened the first cafe in Bixby in 2002. (Other locations are at 9701 E. 61st St., and Broken Arrow and Owasso.)
Ghanem first worked with Khatib shortly after immigrating here from his native Lebanon. Ghanem then worked in various restaurants over the years before becoming the owner of Sami’s Pizza and Hamburgers north of Mingo.
“It’s still in business and doing well, but Simon kept telling me I needed to get into the restaurant business,” Ghanem said. “The landlord offered us this space, as he is working on the construction of this area – there are new apartments being built across the street which should open soon, for example.
“And although there are fast food joints here, there was no such thing as a family restaurant in the neighborhood,” Ghanem said. “The space, however, hadn’t been used as a restaurant, so we were starting from scratch. In all, I think we invested about $600,000 to get the place back in shape.
The interior is certainly kept shiny and new, and is decorated with American flags and other patriotic symbols, as well as stylized images of roadside restaurants augmented with neon lights. Several large-screen TVs are tuned to news and sports channels.
Ghanem said the restaurant finally opened in October 2021 and while business could always be better, this Apple Barrel has already attracted a loyal clientele.
On a recent visit, I overheard waitresses greet some customers by name, and only ask, “Your habit?” before debiting the components of this order in case the customer wishes to make a modification.
On a couple of visits we tried one of the bigger breakfast combos, the Stars and Stripes ($9.99), which we thought was appropriate as we faced the big picture of a bald eagle. white head carrying a flag as we ordered.
It comes with two eggs, which we had scrambled, bacon and sausage (we chose links over patties), and two pancakes which, as you might have guessed, required their own separate plate.
The cakes themselves strongly reminded me of the kind of cakes my Aunt Jemima used to make, although they literally came to me piping hot. The sausages were a precooked frozen item, while the bacon was a bit overcooked. The eggs were fine.
We had better luck with a lunch order, going with the Country Fried Steak ($11.99) – we’re in Oklahoma, after all, and one of the best ways to rate a cafe in these regions is how they handle the centerpiece of the official. State meal. We’re happy to say that Apple Barrel Cafe is doing the state proud with its release. The meat is well seasoned under a crisp, golden crust. The sauce seemed to be of industrial origin, but it served its purpose well.
For sides, we chose mashed potatoes and green beans. The potatoes were whipped until silky smooth and sprinkled with bits of potato skin. The green beans had been cooked with bits of onion, but lacked any other sort of seasoning. The meal also came with a small salad including iceberg lettuce, sliced tomato and cucumber, grated cheese and croutons.
On the other hand, the veggie medley that came with the rib eye ($21.99) had been lightly dusted with chili seasoning and cooked to a tender crispy state. The steak itself was just under half an inch thick, but was cooked to perfection and was surprisingly tender and flavorful.
The Apple Barrel menu contains a wide range of breakfast items, including 15 omelets, pancakes as well as waffles and pancakes, sandwiches, burgers, wraps, salads, pasta dishes, steaks and seafood. A table menu includes an additional pizza menu.
“You have to be able to have something for everyone in a place like this,” Ghanem said. “We try to give people good quality food, and we try to keep prices as low as possible, despite inflation and everything.”
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