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Flint is, first and foremost, a hotel restaurant. Now let me tell you why that’s good for you and I, people who probably live close enough to Flint that we don’t need to stay in a hotel to eat there.
Slow restaurants are bad. Not cooking or serving slow (though a case can definitely be made against the latter), but slow in business. If a restaurant doesn’t have business, it closes—we’ve seen far too much of that around here lately—but before it closes, the food usually suffers. That’s a problem of turnover and a problem of cash flow. Restaurant owners invest in their ingredients and, when they aren’t used, that investment is lost. Food sticks around and maybe isn’t as fresh as you’d like, or the business owner, having lost an initial investment on ingredients, might choose less-expensive and less-tasty substitutes. It’s a vicious cycle.
That isn’t to say that Flint is forever packed, lines out the door, stretching through the Myriad Gardens, disrupting couples taking engagement photos and yoga people wearing Spandex. It does just fine with folks like us, but it does a gangbuster business with people staying at the Colcord. Room service is killing it and we, the ones who are fine with eating at a table instead of on a cushy bed, are the beneficiaries.
Not only does the restaurant stay open, the kitchen is constantly busy, which means the food turns over faster, which means your meal is fresher and more delicious.
Parking can be an issue, of course, but there are solutions. Flint is happy to valet your car while you dine, for one, but we know the real secret: the Streetcar. It drops you off just catty-corner from the restaurant and it’ll swing back around to pick you up when you’re done. Bingo, bango, enjoy a cocktail.
Do you want to dress up when you go to Flint? Yeah. But also, if you’re not wearing spats and tails and your opera glasses, they’re pretty chill about the dress code. Remember: this is a hotel. Some people are going to come in suits and dresses and some people (ahem, me) are probably wearing jeans and a hooded sweatshirt. Come as you are...within reason. Nobody wants to sit at a table after you ate there in a wet swimsuit.
It’s a lovely space, as well, so it’s definitely good for a date night or post-work, pre-game drinks and snacks.
I’m not 100 percent sure how to classify the cuisine at Flint, but I’ll take a stab at it: It’s fancy versions of foods that aren’t always fancy. Upscale rustic, perhaps.
For instance, one might order buttermilk fried chicken tenders with chipotle honey ($9) or Appalachian queso—a dish of baked pimento cheese served with BBQ-spiced pork cracklins for dipping. Low- and high-class smashing into each other, making for some very tasty, oddly comforting dishes.
The black bean hummus ($10) was a surprise. I thought it’d be good, but I had no idea it would be digging-in-for-another-bite-with-my-fingers good. (There are pieces of grilled pita, as well, in case you don’t want to eat like a heathen.) The pineapple salsa on top brought a fruity, acidic bite that cut through the creamy weight of the beans.
I love hummus, but if I’m honest, a lot of it bores me. This reignited my passion for bean dip. Please, put that on my tombstone.
Another sort of low-high mash-up are the fried green tomatoes ($14), which doesn’t sound very fancy until you see that each one comes with a dollop of creamy deviled crab salad on top. Baby, that is what I’m here for.
Fried green tomatoes are always a treat, even if you’re just dipping them in ranch. But this crab salad has a slight piquant flavor that plays against the crunch and fat of the breading very nicely. It’s also a textural treat. I really respect the way the dish is designed, giving you a bit of cool spice up top, followed by the bite of the breaded tomato.
I don’t want to tell you how to live your life, but if it’s cold and you’re near Flint, your taste buds and stomach deserve at least a cup of the bison chili ($7 cup, $9 bowl). If they start making their own Fritos, I will legit lose my mind.
Now, I don’t know if you’ve heard of this new hot sandwich that’s been making the rounds lately, but don’t let the name fool you. There’s actually no ham in them at all!
At dinner, there are only a few options for burgers, but...and I’m just guessing here...you might be able to talk them into reviving one of the lunch burgers for you later in the day. If so, I’d suggest the Steakhouse Blue burger ($15, includes a side). All of the burgers, save the turkey burger for obvious reasons, uses a fat 8 oz. of No Name Ranch ground beef, but the Steakhouse Blue also has bacon, Flint’s own steak sauce, and blue cheese on a really light and lovely egg bun.
I’m generally against using steak sauce on steak, and I wasn’t totally sold using it on this high-quality beef from No Name until I took a bite. Ooooh, yeah. That’s the stuff. Their steak sauce is kind of like A-1, if A-1 had any self respect. Pair it with a really beefy burger and the twang of blue cheese and it’s a burger you’ll house too fast and then look down and consider ordering a second burger.
Another lunch-only find that showcases Flint’s versatility is the chicken-fried ribeye ($15). I know! Ribeye! That’s a great cut of meat! Why fry it in the manner of chicken? Well, it goes back to how a restaurant is managed. Bringing in multiple cuts of meat is a risky investment, especially when your main business isn’t steaks—for reference, Flint is right between Vast and Mahogany, which kind of dominate on steaks.
Flint does have a very nice ribeye on the dinner menu, which means cutting one of those steaks into thinner steaks, pounding them out, breading and frying them is a smart way to keep the meat fresh and also make a very upscale CFS, which is totally on-brand for Flint.
I was really happy with the tenderness of the steak and the subtle heat of the roasted jalapeno gravy on top. It also comes with garlic green beans and Yukon Gold mashed potatoes, so you’re definitely in for a country-style meal, but fancy.
If you’re going for dinner, and I suggest you do, the menu is much more focused on luxurious items.
My lovely date, who frequently out-orders me at every turn, chose sautéed jumbo Gulf shrimp and andouille ($28) and I was immediately jealous of the big bowl of Manchego cheese grits on which her dish was built. I will warn you, though, if you’re a fan of shrimp and grits, this might be more involved than you’re expecting. The sherry-stewed tomatoes with poblano and sweet onion creates a blockbuster sauce that, paired with the assertive andouille sausage, really dominates the dish. The shrimp are plump and well-cooked, but the delicate flavors of the seafood are largely drowned out by the acidic sauce and spicy sausage.
If the sauce was available on the side, I think I would probably order this again, because all the component pieces were delicious...I just want to taste the shrimp and the grits a bit more before the sauce takes over.
While I was tempted to try a non-chicken-fried ribeye or perhaps the Chef’s Fish Find (at the always intriguing “market price”), I was lured into by the guajillo-and-garlic-glazed pork roast ($24) with black-eyed peas, carrots, kale, and a bed of sour cream smashed potatoes.
Pork roast is not like pot roast—it’s still a big chunk of braised meat, but there are bigger fatty chunks stratified throughout. Think of them as flavor layers, which you can choose to avoid or include as you cut it apart. The guajillo-garlic glaze added some sweet spice to the proceedings, livening up the roast, and the blend of veggies and beans at the bottom had that same balance.
Not everyone loves black-eyed peas like I do, but I love that earthy flavor when it’s set off by something sweet like the glaze and the natural sugar of the carrots. This truly is a feast, both for the eyes and the palate. So much going on, but whatever combination you get, it works.
The potatoes are great, as well, but I considered them more like a good glue to hold everything together on my fork. You do what you will with them and I’ll do what I do.
I used to wish that my office was much closer to Flint (and Vast, and the Myriad Gardens, and so much more), but I’m more and more content with access to the OKC Streetcar. When you take away the stress of parking downtown, it makes every trip to the area just a bit more pleasant.
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