Kaisers American Bistro: my serious, diet-busting problem
Kaisers American Bistro is located at 1039 N. Walker Avenue in midtown Oklahoma City (map). They are open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. Call them at 405.232.7632.
There are three (admittedly random) food groups I love above all others: soups, cheeses and milkshakes. So, if a restaurant has amazing soup (can we say Rococo?) or an awesome artisan cheese selection (Picasso Café), these items on their own are enough to keep me coming back.
Finding all three in one restaurant frankly seems too good to even hope for. Put that restaurant just down the street from my office, and we have a serious, diet-busting problem.
Kaisers American Bistro had to live up to a lot of hype. Opening in the historic Kaisers building (in existence since 1918) in the ever-growing Midtown area, it has decades of food and ice cream memories to contend with. Even under the pressure of such high expectations, I think the owners (who also own the aforementioned Picasso Café in the Paseo district) have done a great job.
As noted before, Kaisers is located about a mile from my house and less than a mile from my office, so I have been many times, both for lunch and dinner. Every experience has not been perfect, but I have been able to find several things on the menu that are good, and many that are downright amazing.
My first trip was with my husband shortly after Kaisers reopened. I have to say we weren’t initially all that impressed. He had the daily special, meatloaf, that he thought was a little on the dry side and not worth the $14 price tag. Seeing several artisan cheeses on the menu (aged cheddar, jarlsburg, chevre, gorgonzola), I thought the menu was lacking by not having a grilled cheese as an option. So, I asked the chef to make me one. This was a risk, I understand, but I guess I thought with such good cheeses an amazing grilled cheese was a lock. Unfortunately, the sandwich was stuffed mostly with gorgonzola, which I love, but it was a little strong for a grilled cheese.
Fortunately, through every visit since our shaky start, Kaisers has continued to improve. On subsequent visits I have tried all of the soups on the menu, from the Grateful Bean soup to the red bell pepper bisque to the roasted corn jalapeno chowder ($4 cup, $6 bowl). All have been unique and delicious. A “Midtown Matchup” lunch option gives diners a cup of soup or half salad with a half of any sandwich plus a drink for $10. A great deal for the quality of food provided, in my opinion. And this combination is even available at dinner as well.
Kaisers is not afraid of heat. The Hasta Infierno House burger ($9) packs a serious spice punch, and the corn jalapeno chowder isn’t playing around the edges either. The burgers are unique, hand-packed, thick patties cooked the way you want them. And the sweet frites (as there are called on the menu) are perfectly crispy on the outside and soft on the inside; I will go as far as to say they are easily the best in town.
The dinner menu is mostly the same as lunch, with the addition of a few entrees like fish and chips ($10), pot roast ($12) and a salisbury steak ($10). They also add some unique appetizers at dinner, such as the homemade pretzel sticks ($7) and chicken fried ahi tuna ($7). But, unfortunately, I will never try those, because the Oklahoma Misto appetizer ($7) is a must-get. It includes fried fresh okra, fried pickle slices and fried corn fritters, served with a special sauce. This thing has Oklahoma written all over it, and the special sauce, well … I think I could put it on anything and it would automatically make it better. I would seriously drink the stuff if people weren’t watching.
To wrap up the full experience, there is an old-fashioned soda fountain ($4) and hand-dipped shakes and malts to fit right in with the original ice cream parlor decor that was maintained in the remodel. They even offer spiked milkshakes to give an alcohol-infused adult version of the classics, coupled with a unique wine and beer list.
The strawberry milkshake I had at Kaisers was easily the best I’ve ever had in my life. At $6, the milkshakes are not cheap, but they come in big glasses with over-sized straws. Nothing about the ingredients tastes pre-packaged or processed. I crave this milkshake when it is 30 degrees outside, and that is a feat. I’m looking forward to enjoying one on a hot summer day sitting out on the patio.
I have heard some concern about the prices at Kaisers, and I will admit that the prices are on the higher-end, especially for a casual and limited-service (at lunch) restaurant. Some things, like the previously-noted $14 meatloaf, may not be worth the money, but in most cases, I’ve personally felt good about the value I’ve received at Kaisers. I am willing to pay more at a place that makes quality a priority and Kaisers has delivered that quality in nearly all of my experiences there. Still, it’s important to note that if you’re looking for cheap eats, you will likely be disappointed at Kaisers.
Kaisers is a gem in the midtown district, fitting in nicely with McNellies and Irma’s as yet another place to get a good burger. But Kaiser’s takes it to the next level with some very unique and quality items that you can’t get elsewhere. While I still haven’t successfully lobbied a grilled cheese onto the menu (they have since made me another one on request that was awesome), it is probably for the best since there are already so many great options to choose from. My main fear is that the masses will discover Kaisers and their smallish dining area will be packed all the time. But even then, I would be willing to fight for a seat.
Have you been to Kaisers yet? Let us know what you think in the comments below.