Milkshake, burger and mac and cheese at Kaiser's American Bistro in Oklahoma City

Kaisers American Bistro: my serious, diet-busting problem

by | February 22, 2011 | 21 Comments

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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.

Exterior of Kaiser's American Bistro in Oklahoma City

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.

Kaiser's American Bistro on UrbanspoonKaiser's American Bistro Oklahoma City, OK

This article was posted by Jennifer Monies on Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011. It is filed under:

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  • Brad Holt says:
    February 22nd, 2011 at 8:35 am   

    I’ve been there once, and that was enough. I don’t remember what I ordered, but I distinctly remember that it wasn’t very good and the price was outrageous. I won’t be back until their prices become more competitive and I learn from others that the quality of the food is worth the cost.

  • Kacy says:
    February 22nd, 2011 at 9:32 am   

    Give me soup and a good deal and I’m in. Will have to try this out!

  • Tim says:
    February 23rd, 2011 at 7:25 am   

    I’ve only eaten here once. I had the Kaisers Big Bison burger. Past experiences with bison meat other places haven’t been great as the meat is so lean it’s usually dry, so I asked the order-taker at Kaisers about theirs and she said it wasn’t dry at all. It was better than most bison meat, but it was still pretty dry. Maybe that’s just how all bison burgers are. Bottom line, I feel like I probably didn’t try the right thing here, so I will be back.

    The mac and cheese I had as a side, however, was excellent. Extremely creamy and very tasty. Definitely one of the better ones I’ve had. Also had the pistachio milkshake on the recommendation of many people. It was pretty great, too.

    I’m just torn on whether the food is worth the pricing, but I think I’ll have to visit again before I make up my mind. I think the pricing is just a bit of a shock because the atmosphere is so casual and it’s a limited-service restaurant (at least at lunch) so the prices seem high for that environment. But the food is quality and so I’m not making my mind up on the pricing just yet. It might be worth it, but it still keeps me from visiting regularly.

    I will say that the other night I stopped by Kaiser’s to do some work on their free wifi while enjoying an iced tea. The atmosphere there was great for this, the service I had was super-friendly, and the patio was also pretty awesome on a beautiful night as it was.

  • Jessica says:
    February 23rd, 2011 at 8:59 am   

    That picture of the soup is making my mouth water! Reason #1 I’d like to try Kaisers.

  • jose soto says:
    February 23rd, 2011 at 10:25 pm   

    I’ve been there three times and I’m planning to go back. The bison burger it’s awesome and not dry at all. My 12 year old
    likes it. The atmosphere is great. You have to try it at least once.

  • Jimmy says:
    February 24th, 2011 at 7:48 am   

    I have been going to Kaiser’s since about 1970. My parents would take me there for ice cream after school programs nearby. I have continued the tradition of taking my children there from time to time as well. We all loved the wonderful flavors of homemade ice cream prepared at the same soda fountain that was there decades before. Although I’m sure the food is decent, what is most disappointing about this new restaurant in such a landmark location is the fact that the proprietors have admitted they weren’t given the original Kaiser’s ice cream recipes when they leased the property. If you have any history with Kaiser’s, this fact is very obvious the very first bite. It’s a shame the restaurant carries the Kaiser name without the real thing. That’s like putting Shasta in a Coke can and calling it Coke. It’s just not the same and never will be.

  • AJ says:
    February 25th, 2011 at 4:43 pm   

    james it hasn’t been kaisers in a very very long time

  • Jimmy says:
    February 25th, 2011 at 5:37 pm   

    AJ, I would bet that you are one of the owners of the new restaurant. While you are correct that Kaiser’s hasn’t been open for a long time, did you realize that you could still get Kaiser’s original ice cream (the recipe that MADE Kaiser’s so famous) up until the “Bistro” opened? Heck, even the Grateful Bean had it! Whatever it is that is being served now isn’t even close. I can get that garbage from the noisy little ice cream truck in the neighborhood or Homeland. Good luck making it.

  • Kevin says:
    February 28th, 2011 at 7:44 pm   

    Yes the bison is a tad on the dry side.
    However, does anyone really crave wet buffalo?

  • Christine says:
    March 8th, 2011 at 1:02 pm   

    I love Kaisers the pistachio milkshake is my absolute favorite. The mac and cheese is heavenly. Hands down the best corned beef sandwich I have ever eaten in my life!

  • Celena says:
    March 8th, 2011 at 2:44 pm   

    I’ve only been here once but can’t wait to go back. I had a burger and it was really good. My co-workers had the soup and salad. I think it was the corn chowder and both commented that it was spicy. The portion size of the salad was huge- I think there was acutally more chicken than lettuce. I do think the prices are little high, but the quality of food seems high as well, so I am ok with paying for a little higher quality product. I’m excited to go back!

  • Diana says:
    March 16th, 2011 at 4:06 pm   

    As empty nesters, my husband and I enjoy trying out restaurants. We were doing just that when we stopped in at Kaisers last fall. Coincidentally, we were also looking for a place to host our son’s rehearsal dinner for his upcoming marriage. Long story short, Kaisers was just the right size for our group, so we asked, and boy did they deliver! They came up with a lovely “Oklahoma style” menu – appetizers and 3 course dinner. They also created signature ice cream flavors for the bride and the groom, which was dessert. Shaun Fiaconne and his staff closed the restaurant for us and created just the right atmosphere for a very special and memorable night. All I heard that night was “wows” over the food. The service was perfect. They took care of special dietary requests. We could not have been happier with our choice of venues for the rehearsal dinner. It was casual yet special; intimate (just the right size for 40-50 people) yet roomy. We were so pleased to be able to entertain family and out of town guests at an iconic Oklahoma City eatery like Kaiser’s! I highly recommend it for a smallish special occassion party. Shaun and his staff handled everything with competence and finesse, and no worries for us.

  • D says:
    March 17th, 2011 at 8:08 am   

    Recently went for lunch. Had one of the sandwiches, it was decent, but probably would not get again. Also had the mac and cheese, again decent, but not memorable. Finished off with a disappointing malt. With all that said, still going to return. Their menu is persuading me back, there are several other interesting items on the menu I want to try. I do have to comment on the super friendly staff and good atmosphere!

  • andy says:
    March 21st, 2011 at 2:34 pm   

    The Brown Cow. Root Beer Float was great.

  • Tim says:
    April 21st, 2011 at 9:05 am   

    So, I went back last night in search of a place where I could watch the Thunder game and do some work while eating dinner. Kaiser’s hit the spot on all counts. Free wifi and I even got to sit next to their one available power outlet (it’s in the southeast corner of the dining room, in case you’re wondering). The staff was very accommodating to let me have a big table for just me and all my stuff. And, I was right in front of the TVs.

    Anyway, I also came away more impressed than I have been before with the food. I had the basic burger, which was only $6 with a side included. Not sure if they have lowered the pricing, but I thought this was a GREAT deal. The burger comes with standard toppings but you get to choose your cheese from their very nice selection (I chose Gorgonzola). A big, tasty burger with Gorgonzola and a heaping portion of sweet potato fries for $6?? Now, that’s a value I can get excited about.

  • Andrea Decker says:
    June 22nd, 2011 at 4:24 pm   

    I’ve enjoyed Kaiser’s a couple of times recently but had an experience today that has removed Kaiser’s from my dining repertoire. I witnessed the very unprofessional treatment of one of their wait staff by the manager on duty and have learned that they have a policy of penalizing the entire wait staff by docking their collective tips for a “dine-and-dash.” No matter how good a restaurant’s food may be, if it is not run professionally it is not worth patronizing.

  • J says:
    August 30th, 2011 at 10:46 am   

    I have been a few times, but I doubt I will go back unless one of my friends insists on going there. The burgers are good, but one night my boyfriend and I wanted something light so we shared the cobb salad and crab salad sandwich – both were pretty gross. The salad had an unrelenting amount of vinegar, and the crab salad tasted like cheap canned crab meat. The spiked milkshakes are good, but not worth the money- especially if you’re looking to get a buzz with your dessert.

  • Debbie says:
    March 2nd, 2012 at 6:23 pm   

    Had lunch there a couple of weeks ago after husband’s medical test at Bone & Joint hospital. He got the buffalo burger with regular fries – thought it was okay. I had the smoked salmon burger with sweet potato fries – very good! Husband made up for his okay meal with a hot fudge sundae for dessert that he inhaled.

  • Molly says:
    September 16th, 2012 at 2:26 am   

    If you haven’t tried Kaiser’s very recently (within the past year) please consider giving them a second chance! There were things going on that a new staff totally turned around for the better. Their food is amazing, the ice cream is now really homemade again and in some really interesting gourmet flavors that change all the time. Give them another chance, they won’t disappoint!

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