Saturday, June 3, 2017

Episdoe LIII: The Pioneer Woman Mercantile (TUL)

Oh what a beautiful morning! Well, not really. It was shaping up to be a rainy weekend in North Texas so we wanted to get out of town. The flights to Tulsa looked good so we decided to have a go.

I never thought I would spend this much time in Oklahoma. I grew up out in West Texas but, up until this year, I had never made it across the Red River to the Sooner State.  Danny and I took an overnight trip to OKC earlier in the year and this time Mom was coming along. The flights to Tulsa looked open and we thought it would be nice to drive the open range and check out Pawhuska. 

It is a small town in northeast Oklahoma that has been put back on the map by my TV wife Ree Drummond, aka the Pioneer Woman. Her family bought and renovated a building in downtown and created a real destination. There is a full restaurant and general store and they call the whole thing The Mercantile, or “The Merc”. I love Ree and redheads in general.  When Mary Alice was pregnant we decided not to find out the sex of the baby. I really thought it was going to be a girl. Who knows why but I had it in my heart it was going to be a girl. I kept asking Mary Alice if she thought we could get a redhead. She said no. No one in her family has red hair, but I kept asking every once and again anyway. I wanted a little redhead daughter. It was not in the cards but life turned out just as it was supposed to.

Beef Brisket Reuben
“This brisket has to sit on rye bread or it will fall apart before it gets to your mouth. Topped with creamy sauerkraut slaw, Thousand Island dressing and melty Swiss Cheese.”

Appearance – (4.6/5.0)
Golden brown, just like me.  The sauerkraut slaw has a pretty rustic cut to it. The homemade chips look great too but I think they could have fit a few more on the plate. Those little pickles (I’m being told they are called sweet midgets) really give some color. There is a good portion of brisket in there but it is not sliced the way you usually see in a brisket sandwich, in Texas anyways. By the way, Danny did the most Texan thing ever and chose to wear his "Texas is Calling" shirt on our trip north of the Red River. So proud!

Quality of Ingredients – (4.8/5.0)
Ree has spared no expense. The brisket, chips, slaw… it was all top notch. The kitchen is visible from the dining area and you can tell they are doing things right.

Price – (4.2/5.0)                                                      
$11. Anywhere else in NE-middle-of-nowhere Oklahoma I would say this was expensive but here I think it is a good value. We even got a picture with Lad, Ree’s husband, so that is worth something! 

The folks at The Merc are also really nice to you while you wait in line. It was more than two hours for us. They bring you bottles of water and freezer pops. They also have umbrellas for you when it’s raining like it was when we were there.  All of these things add value to the experience.

Je Ne Sais Quoi – (4.8/5.0)
This really is a destination. I got to spend some time in the general store and had fun looking at all of the little trinkets and widgets they had. It is a cross between a William Sonoma and Cracker Barrel. The restoration of the building itself is amazing. There is the original exposed brick juxtaposed by state of the art kitchen with stainless steel hoods and all the works. There is an original advertisement from the National Biscuit Company that is two stories tall! The whole place is just fun.

Taste – (9.1/10.0)
This is an awesome brisket sandwich but no doubt a Reuben In Name Only (RINO). When people ask me what’s the best Reuben I have ever had, I won’t say this one because it is not really a Reuben. I loved it but I think it has strayed too far.  The brisket was excellent but the flavor is very different from Corned Beef or pastrami. Also, the sauerkraut slaw was more coleslaw than anything else. It did not have the acidic taste of sauerkraut. To me, those to me are cornerstones of the Reuben.

Overall – (27.5/30.0)
Would I order it again? Yes. Would I fly to Tulsa, drive an hour, stand in line for two hours, just to order it again? Probably. If the flights are open! Did mention we rented a Jeep for $28 bucks a day. All taxes and fees included. Plus we did not get to see Ree this time so I really hope to see her when we go back.  

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