Cheever’s Cafe: love at first bite
The very first time I dined at Cheever’s Cafe, I knew I had found something special. I had just moved back to Oklahoma City and found a home in one of our great historical neighborhoods. Cheever’s was literally just a few blocks away, yet I never tried it until one day, I was invited to a lunch meeting there. After stepping inside and getting my first taste, I was hooked. Cheever’s really delivers on everything I love about local dining.
The atmosphere is lively and sophisticated. Located in an old building that’s been revitalized, but not overly polished, Cheever’s offers that “old turned new” environment that I love so much (which is why I bought a 90 year old house). Artwork from local artists adorns the walls and is rotated often.
I really love Cheever’s at lunch (Monday through Friday only). They offer a lunch menu that, in my opinion, is actually more comprehensive than their dinner selection. Plus, at lunch you can experience Cheever’s for quite a bit less cash than in the evening. The crowd pours in from the capital district and surrounding downtown locations. The atmosphere is energetic and business-casual and provides a real feel for city dining and a great place for your power lunch or lunch meeting.
The first time I went, I selected the seafood tamales ($11.95), and I have to say, that was an excellent choice. It’s been a favorite of mine ever since. It features huge chunks of seafood including lobster, fish, shrimp and scallops in a semi-spicy, cream-based sauce, poured over a sweet-potato masa tamal and served with cilantro rice. This type of creative variation on standard dishes pervades the menu. Each item offers an element of flavor that sets it apart from the norm.
Of course, dinner at Cheever’s is a treat as well. At night, the atmosphere turns a great deal more elegant with a less bustling atmosphere. The menu is more selective and a bit more pricey. However, at night I love the larger selection of steaks. I have to say that Cheever’s filet ($31) is perhaps the best I’ve had in the city, rivaling even that at the Red PrimeSteak, which is owned by the same group. Plus, at Cheever’s, you get a more complete meal with two sides included with your steak for a lower cost than you can get at the higher-end Red Prime.
You can review Cheever’s lunch and dinner menus on their website.
Cheever’s also offers a bonus of dinner rolls included with every meal at no cost. This is a nice treat that you don’t find at many restaurants at this level. Plus, the rolls are up to Cheever’s standards as they have a phenomenal combination of herbs that give a very unique flavor. The only problem is that they are so tempting, you have to work hard not eating too many of them before your main meal arrives.
The only negative I can think of about Cheever’s is that in recent months, it seems to me that the level of service has suffered a bit. The first time I went for dinner, we had a phenomenal waiter who really presented the restaurant in its best form. Since that time, though, the wait staff has seemed to me less passionate and concerned. This may be part of why I prefer to go at lunch where it’s a quicker, more efficient experience and the level of service isn’t as much a factor. For a nice long dinner, though, the wait staff can really make or break the experience and I’ve been a bit disappointed in the more recent times I’ve visited.
But even with inconsistent service, Cheever’s still holds it’s place as one of my very favorite restaurants in Oklahoma City. I’ve reviewed all three of the Good Egg offerings on this site — Iron Starr (read review) and Red PrimeSteak (read review) being the other two. I’m very fond of all three, but I have to say that Cheever’s might just be my favorite all around, especially at lunch. I just don’t know anywhere else in the city that you can experience such creativity, flavor, atmosphere, and excellence for the price.
Oh, and of course, Cheever’s serves the very same chocolate cake (my wife’s favorite) offered at Iron Starr. For more on that, see my Iron Starr review.
I highly recommend Cheever’s for a reasonable, lively lunch experience or for a quiet and lovely dinner out. Do you agree? Disagree? Why not leave a comment and let me know your thoughts on Cheever’s.