Power Lunch: Avalon Steakhouse

Psst – hey, you. Looking for a secluded lunchtime respite with easy access from downtown? Want someplace to whisk away those potential clients for a stellar lunch without being interrupted by someone you know every five minutes at one of the swanky Brookside bistros?
Look no further than 10 minutes from the IDL on Historic Route 66. Thanks to the gleaming silos beckoning from the parking lot just south of I-44, it’s impossible to miss Avalon Steakhouse.
The west Tulsa legend, dating back to the early 1960s, remains a local favorite, drawing those with a hankering for down-home cuisine done up fancy from the developing industrial area around its new location (Avalon moved from its former building up the road three years ago).
Simply walking through the doors at Avalon is an experience that sticks. A roomy bar and smoking area looms ahead, and an open kitchen and grill, along with a meat counter that allows the most discerning palates to choose their cut of meat rather than order off the menu, guide diners into the main seating area. The d√?cor, a mix of Euro-Italian and old Oklahoma barn, is eclectic, sure, but with the help of black and white tablecloths and candle lighting, the space manages to feel upscale and elegant.
The menu rightly reflects the ambience: Accessible food, perhaps like what grandma used to make, but dressed in grandpa’s Sunday best. The lunch menu offers a range of choices, from salads and soups to a 14-oz. Ribeye to Chicken Scaloppini, without sprawling into the novella-like menus so popular in casual dining today.
In case that pasta reference seemed to come from left field, chalk up the Italian section of the menu to the ancestry of 23-year owner, manager and head chef, Linda DeArman. It’s that Italian blood, she said, that drives the portion sizes at Avalon. In a word: Huge. In ten words: Hope there’s room in the fridge back at the office.
Even the appetizers pack a punch in the size department, delivering more than enough whetter for my lunch date and me. We ordered the Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms ($6.95), which, refreshingly, stood firm against the broiler, a welcome change from the morass of soggy breadcrumbs and cheese stuffed mushrooms commonly are.
As we bit into mushroom No. 2, our entrees arrived. Though a bit ill-timed for the garlicky mushrooms, it’s hard to argue with the incoming Ribeye Sandwich ($7.95) and the Bleu Cheese Burger ($7.95), both paired with a pile of beer-battered, perfectly crisp onion rings, every one larger than the rim of my water glass.
The Ribeye was tender and gently seasoned, and the bun lightly toasted. It’s a huge sandwich — think a light dinner for four on a muggy summer evening — that’s sure to score points with the value conscious. The burger, perfectly cooked and oozing with a mild bleu cheese, wasn’t as big of a bite, but it was our favorite dish of the two.
“We’re proud of our burgers,” DeArman said. “It’s all fresh, ground steak trimmings. We cut our own steak, and we grind twice per week. We don’t use any fillers. I have many customers who say this is the only place they’ll eat a burger or a steak rare. I can do that because I know my ground beef.”
Not to be beaten by what we estimated to be a pound and a half of beef and just as much in onions and batter, we put in an order for the house specialty, a spicy rendition of Bread Pudding ($4.95). Served simply in a white bowl and saucer and soaked in a steaming bourbon sauce, this version of the sweet classic starring Avalon’s house-made bread wasn’t my all-time favorite, but it’s definitely in the top 10 (confession: I eat a lot of bread pudding).
Lunch specials change weekly at Avalon. Entrees are available, too, with choices like Chicken Fried Steak ($9.95), Fried Shrimp (six for $10.95) and the all-star of the menu, the Filet (6-12 oz., $11.95-17.95). On the lighter side are items like the Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad ($8.95) and a range of appetizers, from Fried Lobster Bites ($7.95) and Maryland Crab Cakes ($7.95) to a full Seafood Sampler ($13.99). If the urge to hit the Mother Road hits at supper time, head to Avalon for its new after-five, beginning-of-the-week special – two 8-oz. Filets for $25.
As we filled the last empty crannies in our bellies with spoonfuls of bourbon sauce we saw DeArman working the room, personally making sure patrons’ lunches and service was to their satisfaction. We were happy with our server, who was knowledgeable and attentive.
DeArman has cultivated a workplace that invites staff to stay on for 20 years, even longer in a case or two. Several servers and kitchen staff are holdovers from the former location.
“I’ve kissed a lot of frogs to get here. My help stays with me a long, long time, and this is a very nomadic industry, so I’m blessed. We’ve become a family,” she said.
For private meetings and working lunches Avalon offers a banquet room for 50. The bar, boasting a working fireplace and custom-made, black walnut furniture, seats 40, and happy hour comes around every day the doors are open, 4-7 p.m. The wine list is geared toward the dinner crowd, with five labels by the glass and a few dozen by the bottle.
Stone Bluff Cellars Hits Market
The south Haskell property boasting Stone Bluff Cellars hit the market earlier this month at a price of $2.9 million.
Owners Bob and Sandy McBratney put the vineyard, winery and surrounding land – a total of about 70 acres – up for sale June 1. The couple looks to find a buyer interested in continuing the winery operation to “take it to the next level,” Bob McBratney said.
The McBratneys will hang on to their other property in the area, serving if needed as consultants to the buyers of the Stone Bluff Cellars property.
“The market for our wines is increasing. With the appropriate market budget, it’s going to be an easy thing for a new owner to increase sales,” McBratney said.
“We’re getting to the age where we just can’t do it anymore physically,” he said. “It’s time to do other things. We’re going to get the RV out of the barn and do some traveling.”
Brint and Susan Lang, both with Tulsa’s Home Team, will broker the sale.

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