Charleston’s Restaurant is an upscale casual restaurant that serves up delicious food in a warm, inviting atmosphere. Oh and the croissants are to die for!
On Easter weekend, my original plan was to go to church in OKC on Sunday morning, run a few errands, and then head back to Stillwater. At some point that Saturday evening we decided to do brunch on Sunday morning in town, so I nixed church plans. Sunday morning came, and we decided not to do brunch. I had no other plans for the day so I figured I would still hit OKC, but only to run errands and eat lunch.
Mother’s Day is the #1 restaurant day of the year, with Easter coming in a close #2. Last year I had a great girls’ brunch at Stella Modern Cuisine with my friend Angi on Easter Sunday, after church. We were smart enough to get there right when the restaurant opened, so we were seated immediately. Clearly I wasn’t thinking this time, since I didn’t even leave Stillwater until 11:30, which of course put me into town at the height of the post-church lunch crowd with no reservation. Throw in Easter, and it is a million times worse. On my whole drive to OKC, I contemplated where to eat. I went back and forth between something “Easter brunch” and smaller places that wouldn’t be as crowded. I ended up at Bravo Cucina. I had this idea in my head that it wouldn’t be horribly crowded, because hopefully it was long enough after the church crowd. I sat in the bar area, thinking I could just eat there. But I quickly realized it wouldn’t be a good experience, so I just had one mimosa and headed out.
As I got to my car, I looked over at the Target parking lot and it was completely empty. Then I looked across the street at the Sam’s Club parking lot…empty. At that moment, it hit me that Easter is like Christmas, and stores aren’t open. I don’t know why I never thought of that, and of course that made me even more annoyed because I wasted a trip to OKC. I considered driving straight home, but I was starving and still needed to hit the grocery store.
As I drove towards the grocery store, I came across Charleston’s Restaurant. It’s in a strip mall with a couple of other smaller restaurants, so I figured if the crowd was still ridiculous I would go to one of the others. Thankfully the wait was just a few minutes so I stuck it out.
There are Charleston’s locations in Arizona, Indiana, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas. I’ve been to Charleston’s a couple of times, and always had a great experience. The restaurant is very warm and inviting, with dark wood floors and tables, brick walls, tall ceilings, and lots of windows. The bar area has a very cool arched ceiling, and the large open kitchen is along the back wall. There are 6 booths that seat 4 each, plus seating at the bar itself with a couple of large TV’s.
I started with a mimosa
It was pretty good, but full of pulp. When I was a kid, I refused to drink OJ that had pulp in it. Back then, all OJ had pulp, so my parents had to strain it out before I would drink any. Also, this mimosa wasn’t very strong. But it wasn’t worth complaining about something like that.
The Charleston’s menu is customized by state. I like this idea, so they can showcase menu items that are local to the area. The menu includes appetizers, soup, salad, burgers & sandwiches, chicken, steaks, sides and desserts. The entrees all come with sides, but you can also order the sides a la carte.
Because there is no lunch menu, the prices are in line with dinner menus. I’m not a big fan of that practice at any restaurant. If you’re open for lunch, then I think you should have a lunch menu that does not include your high-priced items, or offer smaller portions at lunch prices. That, of course, is just my opinion, and clearly it’s not hurting the restaurants or they wouldn’t do it.
I started with a house salad.
The first time I visited Charleston’s was with Mary, and she had raved about the croissant that comes with the salad. She was so right. The croissant is served warm, and is very light and flaky. I had asked for the dressing to be served on the side, so I was disappointed that it wasn’t. I always ask for it on the side, because restaurants usually drown the salad in dressing. But as it turned out, this salad had just enough dressing–some people might even think not enough. The salad was delicious, and the only improvement I could think of would be to add thinly sliced red onion.
I continued light, getting the flatbread pizza appetizer
This pizza was awesome. I was pleasantly surprised, as it was a generous size for a shareable appetizer. For just me, it was more than enough. It came to the table while I was finishing my salad, and the scent was beautiful. It had lost some of its heat while I finished the salad, but it still had an amazing flavor. I usually prefer a thicker crust pizza, but the dough was very flavorful and still had some bite to it.
I loved the fresh basil, and wish there was more on the pizza. In reality, there’s no such thing as too much fresh basil. The Italian sausage lends such a wonderful flavor to pizza, and it’s funny because I never use it when I make my own. The flatbread had quite a bit of cheese, which I was very pleased to see. I don’t normally care for cooked tomatoes, but these were thinly sliced and worked well with the other ingredients. I do wish that there was more seasoning on the pizza. There was a pretty good amount, but a little more would have added a very good punch. I was disappointed that they didn’t provide grated parmesan and red pepper flakes. I thought about asking, but by the time I noticed there was none at the table I was already halfway done so I just went without.
As I was eating, the manager came by, wished me a Happy Easter, and thanked me for visiting the restaurant. I saw him doing that to every single table, and I also saw him spend a little more time with guests he obviously knew. What a great touch!
Will I go back to Charleston’s? No question. The food is delicious and I really enjoy the atmosphere. No surprise, there is no Charleston’s in Stillwater. We are getting a few more restaurants in the next year, and I’m hoping that Charleston’s will be one of them. It would do really, really well in town.