Well look what escaped from the I Ate Oklahoma vaults! It’s a brand new #Escape2OKC, sponsored by The Escape OKC. For each post, I pair one of the super-fun rooms at The Escape OKC with one of the super-delicious restaurants in Oklahoma City. It’s like I’m planning your date night for you, you lazy weirdos!
A group of friends and I decided to try Area 405, the alien-inspired escape room in which your team must use the clues to get out safely amid a Level 5 disaster. Full disclosure: this was not my first time in Area 405. When The Escape first opened, a different group of friends and I broke out and found it a very enjoyable time. Which brings me to something I legit love about The Escape—even though I had an inkling of what was to come, there were plenty of changes made in the time since I first played this room. They’re constantly evolving and improving and someday, with enough work and a little luck, I think they’re going to kill the X-Men.
Now, since there are no restaurants locally that serve aliens (THAT WE KNOW OF), I had to go for a dish that lots of people seem to think is as weird as eating aliens. I’m talking testicles, baby!
Call them what you will; Rocky Mountain oysters, calf fries or, in this case, lamb fries ($10.25) are delicious. They’re just meat. If you’re down with eating parts of an animal’s back or it’s butt or it’s face—all parts of animals I find delicious—then eating the testicles isn’t really that different. They’re cleaned. They’re pounded out thin, breaded and fried. They’re super tasty. And, apparently, super healthy.
And when you’re talking lamb fries in Oklahoma City, you have to be talking about the one and only Cattlemen’s Steakhouse.
Oh, Cattlemen’s. I’m not about to sit here and tell you that it’s the best steakhouse in the city. It’s not. I know it gets voted best steakhouse in lots of polls, but I would argue that’s because a) it has great name recognition and b) people don’t actually eat at steakhouses that often. Steak remains, for many of us, a luxury item.
What Cattlemen’s does is it makes a good steak at a reasonable price and knocks it out of the park on service and old-school charm.
The decor is rustic Western, which makes it pretty comfortable and doesn’t make one feel bad for not dressing to the nines. Sometimes it’s nice to eat a good, hearty meal without putting on the old tuxedo.
Let’s go back to those testicles, because I think you’ll go nuts for them once you give them a try. The texture is somewhat similar to a fried oyster or a very thin chicken nugget and the flavor, frankly, tastes like fried. Fried what? Good question. It tastes like fried breading. Squeeze a little lemon on and it does taste a bit like an oyster. Drizzle on some cocktail sauce and it’ll just taste like cocktail sauce, which isn’t a bad thing.
Other worthy appetizers include charcoal broiled shrimp ($9.95) or potato skins ($8.75), but you really have to try the lamb fries at least once.
If you REALLY like them, you can even get lamb fries as an entree with a salad and a baked potato for $16.75, but I usually tap out at about four. Besides, Cattlemen’s is a steakhouse, and you really ought to get a steak.
Being as this is a cowboy-styled restaurant, I can understand the compulsion to go for the “Presidential Choice T-bone Steak,” ($31.50) which was served to former President George H.W. Bush, but here’s my recommendation: don’t. It’ll be fine, but T-bone steaks are notoriously tough to cook because it’s two very distinct steaks (a strip and a filet) cooked together. And, yes, you generally cook them differently, which makes this a very difficult line to toe.
If you like a lot of steak, and of course you do, the top sirloin steak ($22.95) is an absolutely amazing value. It’s cut very thick. Very thick. I think this steak was in a Sir Mix-a-Lot video. My friend Jess ordered it “medium-rare, but leaning toward rare” and what arrived at the table was beautiful. Best of all, Cattlemen’s serves their steaks with a ladle of au jus, which just adds to the beefiness of the flavor.
Sirloin is an under-appreciated cut and one that you might not always find at the really high-end steakhouses. I find it’s a really good middle-of-the-road steak: tender enough that you aren’t chewing it all day and with a ton of flavor. It’s a really great cross between a filet and a ribeye.
Now, if you’ve got a little extra cash, you might opt for one of Cattlemen’s prime steaks. Most steaks they serve are choice, which is plenty good, but they have a limited number (and limited selection) of prime steaks. I had the bone-in strip steak and fell right in love with it.
And, if you’re lucky enough to be eating with someone who will share with you, it’s a good chance to compare and contrast. The sirloin had more of that classic steak flavor, but the strip was super tender and buttery.
What’s that? You need to get even beefier? Let me introduce you to the side of sauteed mushrooms ($4.95). These had a lovely, springy texture and lots of that umami flavor everyone craves. Even when we were nearing complete satiation, we kept going back to these mushrooms.
Steak meals come with a salad (get the house garlic ranch), a roll and a side. The baked potato is a classic choice, but the sauteed vegetables were great, with a buttery sauce and a deft use of seasonings.
You will not have room for dessert, but you still should have the coconut cream pie ($4.25) with a hefty layer of tasty meringue and sweetened shredded coconut on top.
Hey, I know this has mostly been a dinner review, but let me tell you about another alien-esque dish you can only get at breakfast: calf brains and eggs ($8.50). It is exactly what it sounds like. Calf brains are scrambled with eggs and served up with hash browns and your choice of toast or a biscuit.
It wasn’t something I’d get again. Brains have a kind of metallic taste that I don’t dig, but your mileage may vary. If push comes to shove, I’ve found a liberal dousing of hot sauce makes the dish much more palatable.
If you need to get that taste out of your mouth, or maybe you just love butter and sugar, the cinnamon roll (also available at night) is amazing. It’s fluffy and sweet and I once saw a man eat six of them in a row and I’ve always worried about him.
#Escape2OKC reviews are sponsored by The Escape OKC, Oklahoma City’s home for great live escape rooms. Bring a team of up to seven players and match wits with the puzzle masters who designed each of the five rooms. Whether you’re a spy, a detective or just someone trying to stop the end of the world, The Escape has something for everyone.