Nobody loves watching TV in silence as much as me. No one. But when you’re trying to do something fun with friends or possibly a date, it’s really hard to convince them that the height of entertainment is watching nature documentaries without making any noise.
That’s where our #Escape2OKC posts, sponsored by The Escape OKC, come in. Every month I force my friends to spend time in a locked room with me and they desperately work to get out and away from me. And because this is a food site, I pair the escape room with a local restaurant that makes a thematically fun evening.
This month my friend Kevin and I enjoyed the relative luxury of escaping Hors D’oeuvres & Obituaries. With a 40 percent escape rate, this was by far the most user-friendly room we’ve done so far.
There’s been a murder! And it’s up to you to find your way out of the locked room and determine who the killer was before the police arrive.
This was a fast-paced room for sure with lots of discoveries and not so many blind alleys as we encountered in The Lost Antidote. If you’re nervous about trying The Escape, a) don’t be and b) Hors D’oeuvres & Obituaries is a great room to start with. It’s a great primer for learning what to look for and how the mysteries are put together before you try more advanced challenges.
Speaking of hors d’oeuvres (great segue, Greg!) that will make you want to keep on living, I cannot recommend The Pritchard highly enough.
Executive Chef Shelby Sieg doesn’t play, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t playful. Her menu is full of little touches and flourishes that elevate already tasty dishes to memorable heights. The cheese and charcuterie selections are punctuated with house-made accompaniments designed to elicit maximum enjoyment.
Pheasant pate with candied pecans? Oh my yes. Ewephoria cheese with an apple pie jam? Yes. Yes. A thousand times yes.
Dig a little deeper into the menu, however, and you'll find this shocking fact about The Pritchard: the lineup has almost changed entirely since the restaurant opened and Sieg is still throwing bull's-eyes.
Very few restaurants in town have the confidence to do an almost entire menu overhaul as often as The Pritchard. And even fewer would shelve what would be considered signature dishes at most restaurants in favor of the kind of unfamiliar fare I had during my last visit.
Take the frico friulano ($9), for instance. Do you know what frico is? I didn't know what frico was. It's a regional favorite in Italy, but instead of pasta, it's made with potatoes. It's about a 50-50 mix of mashed potatoes and montasio cheese, crisped up in a pan and topped with prosciutto de Parma.
You know how hash browns aren't usually as good as you want them to be? These are what you're missing. Burnt cheese and crunchy edges over super creamy potatoes with this nutty cheese and delightfully fatty, salty meat.
Now I’m going to ask you a question I already know the answer to and one that I couldn’t hear if you tried to answer it anyway, because that’s not how this website works, but whatever: Do you like lobster bisque ($9)?
Of course you do. Even people with deadly shellfish allergies agree that, if it’s their time to go, it’ll be face down in a bowl of delicious lobster bisque. Sieg draws from techniques she learned in New York to make the most insanely rich and creamy and lobster-y bisque I’ve ever had. It was smooth, like a criminal, and had the color of lightly roasted peanut butter. The flavor was intense. It was creamy in texture, but not flavor. You know how some lobster bisques are actually just milk with some lobster bits in it? That’s not this.
The Pritchard uses a whole lot of shells to cook this bisque down, but the finishing touch are bits of tender lobster tail. Yeah. I’m telling you: Sieg doesn’t mess around.
I didn’t have it this time, but get the cacio e pepe ($7). I mean, only if you love delicious pasta like every human ever. But if you’re an alien who came to Earth last week and you don’t have tastebuds or whatever, yeah, you can skip it.
I didn’t have pasta, but I did have some bonkers veal and pork meatballs ($9) in a walnut romesco sauce. Remember when Chef Sieg went on “Guy’s Grocery Games”? This is the recipe that propelled her to the next round. The meatballs were perfect — tender, juicy, not greasy but with good, flavorful fat — and the romesco sauce is just dynamite. The roasted peppers have this incredible lively zip that is the perfect balance with the meatballs.
Next up were mussels ($16) and I think what I wrote about them on Instagram is about as well as I can sum this up: “If I die tonight, embalm my corpse with the broth from these mussels at @thepritchardokc. It’s the only way I’ll get into heaven.”
The mussels are as tender and lovely as any I’ve had, just a little chew and then they dissolve into your mouth. The broth, which I would bathe in given the opportunity, is a lemongrass white wine cilantro broth that was buttery and gorgeous and I’m going to marry that broth someday, just you watch.
Last and certainly not least was a pear shortcake and I feel like I should remind you that Sieg started her career as a pastry chef when I tell you this dessert was bonkers. For one thing, they poach the pear in Raptor Ridge Gruner Veltliner, which is a wine you can also drink while eating the dessert. Also there’s brown butter caramel and housemade vanilla cream. It’s never too sweet. It just keeps you wanting more and more, which would be great if you hadn’t just eaten half the menu and you were saying to yourself, “Greg old buddy, we might literally explode Monty Python-style tonight.”
I’m not a wine expert by any measure, but I can tell you the 12 e Mezzo Malvasia from Italy might be my new favorite white wine. Trust the bartender to pair wine with your meal. Seriously. It’s what they do and they do it well.
Nights like that one make me so unbelievably happy to be in Oklahoma in 2018. I hope you all realize how different this city is from five or 10 or 20 years ago and how lucky we are to be enjoying the talents of Chef Shelby Sieg and others who could be great anywhere but choose to be great here.
#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.