Cafe 501: the restaurant transformer
Occasionally, the writers of EatAroundOKC have a meal together to both enjoy each other’s company and offer a combined opinion on a restaurant for a review. When Tim said he was treating this time, Jennifer and I promptly said “name the place!”
He chose Cafe 501. For convenience, we met at the new location at Classen Curve, but the original Cafe 501 can be found in Edmond. Incidently, the original location is connected to Boulevard Steakhouse as it is owned and operated by the same group.
The Classen Curve location sits separately a little south of the main buildings in this development, across from Balliets. The fact that the parking lot here doesn’t connect to the lots of the rest of the buildings can be a little confusing if you have never been. Additionally, Tim commented that because of the nature of Classen Curve and its uniformity across all it’s shops and restaurants, the location here doesn’t have nearly the character of the original, which feels more like a small cafe as compared to the vast, open feel of this location. Still, the convenience for those of us in Oklahoma City makes the Curve location a likely choice.
The reason I titled this post “The Restaurant Transformer” is because Cafe 501 pulls a unique change-up between their lunch and dinner offerings. At lunch, they offer counter service where the menu is listed on a massive board of soups, sandwiches, pizzas, salads and wraps. At dinner, the Cafe changes completely to a full-service restaurant with table service and a different menu. Plus, on the weekends, they offer breakfast and brunch. We only tried it for lunch, so there’s a lot we didn’t get to see, but you can check out all of their menu options on the Cafe 501 website.
Before I talk about the food, I first want to mention the pricing. I was a little shocked to see our order ring up at over $50 for the three of us for lunch. Granted, we were making an effort to try quite a few different things, but still, you need to be aware that Cafe 501 isn’t cheap eats, even at lunch time. If you work at it, you might get out of there for $10/person plus tax, but it’s more likely to be closer to $15, and the portions aren’t all that big. Again, we’re talking about lunch only. Everything’s different (and even more expensive) at dinner.
So, onto the food. I chose the Greek pizza ($10.99 – see a photo), which sported pepperoni, tomatoes, kalamata olives, pepperoncini, feta cheese, parsley, red onion and house-made pomodoro. It was delicious, but rather salty, probably because of the olives and cheese. I had paired it with the 501 salad ($8.99 – see a photo) which was a mix of greens, pumpkin seeds, bleu cheese crumbles, granny smith apples and lemon vinaigrette. Again, the salt almost overwhelmed me. I ran through three glasses of iced tea during my meal. However, the presentation on everything was very nice and appealing.
Tim had the Crab Cake Wrap lunch special ($9.99 – see a photo). The jalapeno cheddar tortilla was filled with crab, romaine, cabbage, tomato caper relish, sprouts and lemon vinaigrette. It was served with a side of pasta salad, as are all of the wraps. Tim said the wrap was good, with fresh ingredients and interesting flavors. The included remoulade was tangy and tasty. The portion was adequate and probably closer to the portion size we all should actually be eating, but if you’re a big eater, it might leave you wanting a bit more. Overall, he enjoyed it but thought it was overpriced by $1 or $2, even when “on special.”
Jennifer settled on the Southwest Chicken Wrap ($9.99 – see a photo), which contained chicken, jasmine rice, black beans, avocado, tomato, green chiles, poblano pepper, sour cream and cilantro. The wrap had some nice heat, but to her it wasn’t anything that special for $10. She thought the best thing about the lunch was the little cup of pasta salad that came with it. It was a good amount and a little better than just your run-of-the-mill pasta salad.
For dessert, we all split a Boston Cream Pie cupcake ($2.99 – see a photo) and agreed it was pretty darn good. Turns out all of their baked goods are prepared in-house and baked onsite. And, unlike many of the other menu items, this was a pretty good value at $2.99 for a delicious, fresh dessert made in-house.
I think I would go back to Cafe 501 when in the area, though the steep pricing might keep me from making it a regular visit. The lighter fare here probably fits my tastes more than Tim’s, and for a quiet lunch spot with healthy, tasty food, I think it delivers. I would also be interested in trying their full-service experience at dinner. If you’ve been to Cafe 501, please let us know what you think in the comments below.
See more photos from Cafe 501 in our Facebook photo album.