Even though NE 23rd Street is one of the most historical streets in Oklahoma City, many locals tend to forget that it’s also home to some of the most grassroots and homegrown eateries in town, the best having a specific focus on soul food, barbecue and old-fashioned Southern cooking. NE 23rd Street restaurants are OKC’s culinary history all in a few blocks and really should be revered as such.
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Twelve Oaks Restaurant
6100 N. Midwest Blvd., Edmond
Date Established: 1994
Owner and General Manager: Bill Horn
Executive Chef: Daniel Listen
Food Style: American white tablecloth
Average check: $25 per person
Mention Twelve Oaks to people in the Edmond area, and invariably meat-eating traditionalists will go on about the steaks.
It is the sort of place where there are no acrobatics being done with the cuisine. There are no crazy combinations made with darling of-the-moment vegetables or internal organs of an animal that might make your toes curl.
Rather, Twelve Oaks embodies the glory of the golden past of Oklahoma. The Victorian house was built in 1896; in 1990 owner Bill Horn moved the structure from its original Guthrie setting to its present site. He opened Twelve Oaks for business in 1994.
Near the intersection of Midwest Boulevard and Waterloo, Twelve Oaks has achieved a longevity that is rare in luxury restaurants, and its repeat clientele appreciates its considerable amenities. The crowd at Twelve Oaks is made up of local food- and wine-loving types. It is surprisingly romantic at night, lighted outside by tiny light bulbs.
Through the large dining room windows are continuous views of the tree-lined countryside. Come early and you can see the lovely gazebo and catch cattle grazing right next door beyond a fence.
Inside, the dining tables are wellspaced, which guarantees leisurely dining and privacy to laugh and talk without being overheard, while guests enjoy the impeccable food. That is coupled with smooth but attentive service; our servers were Ben Nessman and busser Kagan Mason, both dressed in white shirts, black vests and black trousers. Best of all, its congenial owner is most often on hand to greet his loyal guests, and he has plenty of stories to share.
On the many occasions I had dined at Twelve Oaks, I had sampled several of the items on the menu. Among the starters we tried this time were the sampler appetizer ($14), which proved very enticing and included two jumbo stuffed mushrooms, two shrimp done cocktail-style with sauce and, my favorite, two crab claws with a generous amount of crab, all artfully composed on a white platter.
For my entrée, I zoomed right in on the tender lamb chops ($30) with a side of grilled asparagus. The presentation of the two thick chops was stunning, and the Caesar salad was subtly dressed with crisp croutons.
My friend was tempted by the sliced pork tenderloin ($24), and the dish was given high praise for being moist and tender. A side of pasta and a crisp salad was included. A first-timer at Twelve Oaks, he was quite impressed, even with the cellophane-wrapped crackers on the table. During dinner, we also received butter and rolls in a breadbasket.
Through the dining room windows are continuous views of the tree-lined countryside.
Our main dishes were preceded by basil cream soup ($5), which was splendid, and the French onion soup ($5). That French onion soup was a lively, aromatic broth. Instead of the classic bread and baked cheese on the top, the bowl of soup was partnered with crisp toast.
For decadent desserts, we had a choice that included mocha pie, ice cream, cheesecake, pound cake with ice cream and strawberries and an apple pie.
I opted to trust our server to bring us what he thought would be good.
In mere minutes, Nessman brought us a slice of the delicious three-layer mocha pie ($6), which had a crunchy texture from its pecan-brownie base that rounded everything out in the nicest way possible.
Before opening his own restaurant, Horn, now in his early 80s, earned his stripes as a waiter at the legendary Haunted House, which still is a destination spot for dining in the metro.
Striking out with his own Edmond property, Horn said his clientele soon discovered that it’s hard to go wrong with four steaks on the menu, lamb chops, pork tenderloin, quail, shrimp and fish.
Twelve Oaks prefers reservations and is open every day except Sunday, but those hours could change for a romantic Valentine’s Day weekend. Just call.