(Okarche, OK) - Still another week until we get back to the judging table so we continue our forays into Reviewing Other Foods. This week finds us in Okarche, Oklahoma at the world famous Eischen's Bar (est. 1896 - self-proclaimed oldest in Oklahoma).
We've read a lot of reviews on this place and it seems time to offer a little objectivity (at least as we see it) -- so let's start by answering some frequently asked quesitons:
- It true what they say about the table competition? Yes.
- Is it true they only take cash? Mostly - I think they'll take a check but no plastic.
- Is the wait really that long? Yep, at least when they're busy.
- Is the help really that rude? They are busy - so not real chatty.
- Is it expensive? Mindbogglingly.
- Is the chicken good? No. It is great.
- Is it worth the trip? Yes.
Eischen's is an Oklahoma rite of passage. It is as The Salt Lick BBQ in Austin is to Texans. That analogy further holds true in that it is more of an overall theme park type experience than it is a trip to get some grub. At the Salt Lick it's best to bring a cooler full of beer to enjoy during the afternoon wait for a table while that guy sits over there with his acoustic guitar singing a mix of Jerry Jeff, George Strait and Eagles tunes.
At Eischen's they serve beer (bottles and draught but strictly of the 3.2 ABW variety) and the music is piped in classic rock (and a pretty good mix of it -- not just limited to the really tired stuff) but the wait is just as long. The difference is no lawn to sit on. Everyone stands and waits until someone gets up and then the mad dash is on for the open table. At that point the wait for chicken can stretch up to 2 hours when they are really busy.
But they will keep bringing the beer so folks that show up with patient friends -- all expecting to wait awhile and have time to visit -- will enjoy the experience. And all will be really happy when he shows up with big baskets of chicken.
Yes. The food. Is it the best chicken you've ever had? No. The chicken you're grandma used to fry up on Sundays in her old cast iron skillet was better than this. You're mama might even have topped this regularly. Babes in the Metroplex has better chicken. But with all of that said this is still some outstanding fried chicken. Crispy and not greazy -- it's deep fried in the same simple mix and fashion that was used three generations ago by the grandaddy of the Eischen boys that still own the place. The place is more restaurant now than bar but they never changed the recipe (for more info on that see their episode of Triple D on which they got a "Winner winner chicken dinner").
The okra got thumbs up around our table. Onions, pickles and white bread comes with it. They have BBQ beef and roast beef sandwiches (don't know -- didn't get them) and ballgame nachos ($6 without the "homemade" chili). All of that could be very good but we went for the legendary chicken.
If you are in central Oklahoma and have time to kill or if someone says "You gotta..." then you should. Just go knowing what to expect and be prepared to deal with it. If you do you'll enjoy the experience and you'll love the chicken and the okra. As for us -- we wouldn't mind trying the chili. One of these days.