Whispering Pines: fine dining hidden in a bed and breakfast

by | June 11, 2008 | 19 Comments


Whispering Pines

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7820 E. Highway 9
Norman, OK 73026

When Tim asked if I would write a dinner review of a bed and breakfast on the south side of Norman, I had to stop and think. “Do bed and breakfast places serve dinner?” I wondered. He assured me this one did and, since I’ll try anything once, I agreed. It was a wise choice because hidden in this unlikely hideaway, I found a delightful dinner experience — one that offers great food in a beautifully relaxing environment.

The restaurant’s location made for about a 50 minute drive from our northwest Oklahoma City home. Sure, it’s a bit out of the way, but actually it was nice to relax in the car and gather some thoughts following an extremely busy week at work. Although the place is hidden from the highway, we found the entrance with no problem, and the tree-lined driveway was really quite lovely. Being a gardener myself, I appreciated the attention the owners have given to the beautiful landscaping. The hydrangeas were in full bloom and they were gorgeous.

The restaurant entry is very welcoming with its wrap-around porch. We stepped inside and were immediately seated at a table for two overlooking the porch and out through a sea of oak trees. As I sank into the oversized chair and gazed out at the view, I also took in the white tablecloth, the softly flickering candlelight and what appeared to be an old set of fancy, yet understated, flatware on the table. I felt my body relax yet one more notch. “This is nice,” I thought to myself. Really nice.

Rany, the owner (and our waiter), appeared quietly at our side with a wine list and a refreshing glass of iced, lemon water. In a minute, menus appeared and he politely explained the evening’s special dishes. Most everything on the menu is served with a French flair, which delighted us as we had just returned from a week in Paris. Dave chose one of the specials — a bone-in veal steak with a blueberry glaze. I opted for the potato-encrusted salmon. We also decided to try the corn-crab bisque and a spring mixed salad (I had overheard one of the other diners in the full dining room saying how much she was enjoying the soup).

Now, one thing I would have liked to have seen is a pasta or vegetable option on the menu for those of us not really into meat. Maybe they occasionally offer something like this as a special, but all of the entrees I saw were meat dishes. Anyway, back to our food …

The house salad was better than most with its fresh spring leaves, bite-sized tenderized vegetables and drizzled champagne vinaigrette. I wish more local restaurants offered a champagne vinaigrette. It’s nice because it’s not as pungent as the balsamic vinaigrettes, and it’s not as full of fat like the creamy dressings. Dave also loved his corn-crab bisque. It was very mild and not too heavy for a hot and humid summer evening. The accompanying hot rolls were delicious enough that they tasted homemade. Even if they weren’t, they were wonderful with a dab of the fancy, herbal, sweet-cream butter served on the side.

As we waited on our main course, I looked around and decided I was glad I had noticed the business casual dress code on the website. Nobody was in jeans. Nobody was in a tie either, but we would have felt a little under-done in jeans.

The main course arrived in a beautiful, French presentation. The whole week I was in Paris I didn’t want to eat my food because it was too pretty. Our plates at Whispering Pines reminded me of those dinners in Paris. The meat was accompanied by two different styles of potato. One was a rosette design which was baked crisp and sported a fresh sprig of rosemary. The other was a new potato, cut in half with a fancy dollop of a twice-baked-potato-like mixture. Additionally, a nice assortment of vegetables, including asparagus cooked perfectly crispy and in a cream sauce, accompanied the meat. The presentations and flavors blended perfectly for a rich, winning taste.

After the main course, we were presented with three dessert options: a flourless chocolate cake, creme brulee and, as Rany stated, “good ol’ Oklahoma bread pudding.” We kept with our French flair for the evening and chose the creme brulee. Good choice. I like my creme brulee with a thick, carmelized, flavorful topping, and this was great. The custard was nice and thick also.

I was disappointed that there was no fruit dessert option. In the summertime, I like to see something like a sherbet with a fresh fruit topping. Something cold and tart is always good when it’s so hot outside. But I also know that places like Whispering Pines are going to have more abbreviated menus simply because of the nature of their businesses.

To me, service is as important as the taste of the food, and Rany could not have been more gracious. He was never intrusive, yet stayed at least two steps ahead of our needs. Perfect. Rany’s son, David, also helps to run Whispering Pines and they were the only two waiters on the night we visited.

At the end of our meal, Rany even offered to take us on a tour of the whole grounds, which we gladly accepted. We saw an additional dining area that’s great for large meetings or receptions. Plus, out in the back, there is a gazebo and a large pond that opens out onto the grounds where one can see rows and rows of grapes in the vineyard they keep. The whole complex is set on rolling hills and is very lovely. Rany said that from April to October they host a wedding just about every Saturday.

Rany has a fascinating life story to tell. He and his wife escaped the killing fields in Cambodia and eventually found a sponsor in Oklahoma, making it possible for them to immigrate in 1981. He started work as a dishwasher at The Oaks Country Club and proceeded from there to work in other fine restaurants such as The Coach House, where he picked up his culinary skills. He eventually opened his own restaurant, Lindochine, which was located around NW Expressway and I-44, before moving his family to Norman and purchasing Whispering Pines. He is a very humble man, an extremely hard worker, and he has the life experience to be able to say, “If you were born in the United States, then do not ask God for another blessing because He has already given you the biggest blessing of your life!” This was a profound and steadfast reminder to me. I appreciated his boldness in proclaiming that to us.

So, here is my advice to all of us busy people — make a dinner reservation at Whispering Pines, or better yet, a Friday night getaway and Saturday breakfast. Sometimes we must be intentional about slowing down and relaxing, and this is a perfect place to do so. You’ll not only discover some great food, but you’ll also feel the worries melt away as soon as you pull into Rany’s driveway!

Whispering Pines Inn Restaurant & Lounge on Urbanspoon

This article was posted by Sarah Sutton on Wednesday, June 11th, 2008. It is filed under:

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  • Sarah says:
    June 12th, 2008 at 2:12 pm   

    Just heard from the owners and they wanted to let everyone know they will make a vegetarian dish upon request. They are planning on putting this in the menu the next time they re-design. Also, they use a citrus sorbet for patrons to cleanse the palette between courses that some people also request as a dessert, which they gladly offer. So these are two good things to know before you go.

  • Bob Teeter says:
    June 12th, 2008 at 7:05 pm   

    Having dined many time there and hosted a dinner for the International Wine and Food Society at Whispering Pines, my wife and I have found it to be one of the very few places in the OKC area that has the quiet ambiance and excellent service that we appreciate. We don’t have to shout at each other to be heard, which is becoming the norm in too many restaurants.

    June 19th, 2008 at 9:33 am   


  • Sarah says:
    June 19th, 2008 at 7:08 pm   

    Thanks for commenting, Bob and Wayne. I am in total agreement over appreciating a quiet, dining atmosphere where one does not have to yell to his dining mates. I call the loud atmosphere at most restaurants the “Dallas Restaurant Syndrome”, as I think restaurants in Dallas are even louder than the ones in OKC. There is absolutely nothing relaxing or enjoyable about it. Call me old and cranky, but so be it!

  • Arie says:
    July 11th, 2008 at 2:52 pm   

    Sarah, I very much enjoyed your review – both times I read it. I read it the first time when I was looking for a place to stay for our wedding anniversary. Your review helped in deciding to go ahead and make our reservations. The dinner was wonderful, exactly as you said, which made the second time I read your review enjoyable as well. As I read through it again, I smiled because it was nice to go back there in thought. The occasion for why we were there in the first place is special and everything about Whispering Pines added to it. My husband enjoyed the ribeye steak while I had the roasted pork tenderloin. Both entrees were delicious. Because of your review, I opted to try the creme brulee and, again, your description is accurate. The topping and custard was exceptional along with the serving size. I wasn’t able to finish it, which was disappointing because it was so good. We stayed that evening in the PineCone Cottage, and the cleanliness and service from dinner continued on through the rest of our stay and the next morning. The entire atmosphere of Whispering Pines is that of serenity. I look forward to when we can return. Thanks, Sarah, for your review. It was very helpful in choosing Whispering Pines for our special day – and I’m so very glad we did!

  • Sarah says:
    July 11th, 2008 at 5:49 pm   

    Good stuff, Arie, and thanks for taking the time to comment. I’m glad to hear from someone who has actually spent the night and taken part in the whole experience, as it’s something I plan to do myself. I would be interested in knowing what was for breakfast and how delicious it was!

  • Sarah says:
    July 12th, 2008 at 4:25 pm   

    I’ve had someone ask me about the prices on the dinner menu. Most of the entrees run between $18 and $28, but this includes the vegetables and both sides of potatoes. The soup and salad are extra – if I recall correctly, the house side salad was about $6. I can’t comment on the price of dessert because we didn’t ask – just ordered!

  • Brian says:
    September 3rd, 2008 at 10:11 am   

    My wife and I have stayed at Whispering Pines, and I would say it is one of the finest Bed & Breakfast establishments in the OKC area. We stayed in the Greenhouse and of course had breakfast the next morning. While I haven’t had dinner there, the quality of the breakfast would lend me to believe that the dinner must be incredible.

  • JuJu Beans says:
    April 21st, 2009 at 12:07 am   

    Never tried the food here, but I hear that it’s very good. My friends mom owns this place, and the rooms are beautiful from what I last saw.

  • Benjamin says:
    April 29th, 2009 at 1:32 pm   

    Thanks for the review of this place. Would love to go there to experience the atmosphere. Does anyone happen to have the pricing for a night’s stay over there?

  • Sarah says:
    April 29th, 2009 at 7:19 pm   

    Hi Benjamin. Here is their website and e-mail to inquire about prices. They will probably need to know the date you want to come, how many people, etc. etc.


  • Bill Boland says:
    May 8th, 2009 at 10:53 pm   

    Just ate with my wife tonight 05/08/09. This was our first trip to Whispering Pines and I cannot put into words exactly how delicious the food was. Dave was our waiter and his service and personality was equal to the superb food. We were served delicious homemade bread as a starter and we ordered escargo and a poached pear salad for apetizers. I’ve ate escargo in a lot of places around the country and this was by far the best I’ve ever had. For entrees, my wife had salmon in a champagne cream sauce and I had a prime strip steak in a cracked pepper sauce. I know you may think I’m exagerating, but again, this was the best steak I’ve ever ate and I managed a steak house in Texas years ago! I could go on and on and on, but I don’t want to spoil it for you. If you do not give Whispering Pines and Dave a visit, you will be missing out on one of the best kept secrets in the entire Oklahoma City area.

  • Kevin says:
    May 14th, 2009 at 5:57 am   

    Very fine establishment, well worth your drive time and the extra effort to gussify yourself upwards an extra notch. Book a weekend as well and indulge yourself a wee bit more.

  • Broncho Foodie says:
    September 1st, 2009 at 7:07 pm   

    Need help on a dilemma here. I’m looking for a romantic place to bring my girlfriend for her birthday. I’ve basically narrowed it down to either Whispering Pines or the Polo Grill up in Tulsa.

    Can anyone shed some light on which is better? Also I’m open to any other suggestions!

  • Sarah says:
    September 1st, 2009 at 7:26 pm   

    Since I’ve not been to Polo Grill, I’m sorry I can’t help you decide between the two. You might visit our twitter site at http://twitter.com/eataroundokc and throw the question out there since we have over 1,200 followers. Good luck! And I know you can’t go wrong with Whispering Pines.

  • Kay says:
    September 9th, 2009 at 4:52 pm   

    Bronco.. I’m guessing you from the OKC area? Well if that’s the case & its your anniversary, I think Whispering Pines would be best. Go early & sit in the gazebo overlooking the pond before you eat. Its a lovely place to celebrate a special occasion at. The 2 hour drive to Tulsa back & forth is not worth it. I am from Tulsa and I have ate at both restaurants. If you are in the Tulsa area sometime, stop by the Polo Grill. They do have wonderful food. However, When I have visited Whispering Pines the service, ambience, & food were perfect. Best wishes and I hope this helped!

  • Corey says:
    October 12th, 2010 at 9:37 pm   

    My wife and I spent our first anniversary at WP. We had a wonderful time. The food was delicious and the service was fantastic. We will definitely go back.

  • Ashlee says:
    October 18th, 2010 at 3:05 pm   

    Had dinner at Whispering Pines on Friday night, the food was awesome! We started with the Shrimp Cocktail (complimentary, there were only 3 shrimp I’m not sure if this is how it normally is or if we had less because it was just to sample?) But, the shrimp were very large and great quality. Next I had the corn-crab bisque that was very, very tasty! My bf had the spring mix salad, it looked so yummy (he thought it was) it had mango and heart of palm I’ll be trying it next time for sure. For our main course I had the pork tenderloin (so good!) and bf had the special (rack of lamb) both accompanied by potatoes and asparagus, everything was just soo tasty!! For desert we chose the creme brulee (they were out of the bread pudding or I think we would have ordered both!) I think the creme brulee was done just right, the top was the perfect amount of bruleed, and the custard was very good as well.

    The portions were a very nice size (it has been my observation that some “nicer” restaurants give you very little food and lots of presentation here you get both)!

    One last thing, as Sarah said, the service was great!!

    Thanks eat around OKC for giving us so many new local places to try!

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