By Edward F. Mouss II
Recently, I was able to grab a bite at the Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s Stone Blade Restaurant. I have been contemplating doing a restaurant review for some time so I decided that I would to take note of the meal so that I could blog about it.
The Stone Blade Restaurant occupies the former Okmulgee Country Club in Okmulgee, Oklahoma. Stone Blade is owned by the Muscogee Nation and was opened for business in December of 2012. The Muscogee Nation Business Enterprises (MNBE) oversees the operation of the restaurant. According to the MNBE website, “Muscogee Nation Business Enterprise (MNBE) was created to diversify the types of businesses operated by the Nation and to provide an additional revenue stream to help fund other tribal needs.”
The seasonal menu features dishes or styles like American, Italian-American, Caribbean, Hawaiian, Southwestern, and Californian. While most of the dishes can sit side by side in harmony, there are a few curve balls in there like the Caribbean dishes and the Hawaiian burger.
A bison burger is on the menu. I hope they keep a bison burger on the menu permanently. Bison is awesome. I ordered it without the chipotle mayo.
Sooner burger? Where is the Cowboy burger?! Okmulgee is Cowboy Country. So a Sooner burger seems way off the mark. Especially with the OSUIT just right down the road. Great marketing scheme. Offend your neighbors and potential customers.
Chipotle flavor is in a lot of different places on this menu. The menu features classics like the Chicken fried steak, the club sandwich, the Rib-eye, and the Baseball-cut Sirloin Steak. The salads look to have way too much going on for my taste but I was glad to see they have a Caesar. The desserts look good.
On paper, the menu kinda goes all over the place in my opinion. I hoped to see dishes that represent the Creek foods and this region. Unfortunately for me, that wasn’t happening as much as I would have liked to see. The restaurant seems more interested in showcasing what they think foods from California, Sante Fe, the Caribbean, and Hawaii are like.
My father and I arrived at Stone Blade around 7pm on a Saturday night. The restaurant was almost empty probably due to the fact that Smoky Robinson and Natalie Cole were performing at the Creek Festival that night. We were promptly greeted by the bartender and seated in the dining room.
The server took our drink orders and brought them out to our table in an timely fashion. My father ordered a Kendall-Jackson Merlot and I had an iced tea. The server then took our food orders. My father ordered a nightly special, the New York Strip, and I tried the Bison Burger.
Food seemed to arrive at our table a bit late, especially for a restaurant that was almost empty. By almost empty, I mean two tables or about eight people. The first food to arrive was the dinner salad my dad ordered. As he recalls he ordered a Caesar Salad but instead was given a regular dinner salad. The salad was a basic, run-of-the-mill banquet salad with julienne’d carrots that looked like they may have came out of a bag. A bread basket with Stone Blades Corn Bread came with the salad. The bread basket had a decent selection of breads and the corn bread was sweet and cooked perfectly.
“I was glad to see a bison burger on the menu because it at least presented a dish that was connected to Native Americans besides maybe the cornbread.”
Next came the entree’s. The food looked a little plain as far as presentation is concerned. The food also looked delicious though. The New York Strip didn’t meet my expectations of what a New York Strip should look like. No diamond grill marks or glistening sheen. The Bison Burger looked decent enough and was cooked about medium well although I wasn’t asked how I wanted it done. I really liked the brioche bun. Nice call by the chef. A generous amount of homemade fries came with the burger. Maybe a bit too generous. The fries were barely under cooked which causes them to be greasy and less than crisp. But for the most part, the fries were done enough.
With all that being said, we were enjoying our meal. My dad liked his steak and I was enjoying my burger. I was glad to see a bison burger on the menu because it at least presented something that was connected to Native Americans besides the cornbread.
Everything was good. But then the check came along with the outrageous wine price. For a glass of Kendall-Jackson Merlot, Stone Blade is charging a ridiculous $13.79. That is more than any glass of wine that the Polo Grill is offering. And that says a lot.
Our immediate reaction to the $13.79 price on the dinner tab was to ask the server to go over the prices with us. The server immediately knew what the problem was going to be and braced for impact. I then recalled that earlier in the year people where complaining about the unusual wine prices at Stone Blade.
“Everything was good. But then the check came along with the outrageous wine price.”
CEO Of MNBE Pricing Wine?
After asking a few questions, we found out that it isn’t the staff at Stone Blade that is pricing the wine at all. Woody Anderson and someone named “Vivian” are responsible for the pathetic wine prices. So who are they? Well, Woody Anderson is the CEO of the MNBE and Vivian is , presumably, Vivian Pope who is the Facility Security Officer (FSO) at Muscogee Nation Business Enterprise according to her LinkedIn page.
What in the heck are the CEO and presumably the Facility Security Officer of the Muscogee Nation’s Business Enterprises doing pricing wine at Stone Blade? Don’t they have their own jobs to attend to? It would seem that the CEO has a lot more important issues to deal with than pricing wine at Stone Blade. According to both of their LinkedIn pages, neither of them list restaurant management experience or sommelier experience as part of their backgrounds. Mr. Anderson’s LinkedIn page states that he doesn’t even hold a college degree. That part is evident.
“What in the heck are the CEO and presumably the Facility Security Officer of the Muscogee Nation’s Business Enterprises doing pricing wine at Stone Blade? Don’t they have their own jobs to attend to? It would seem that the CEO has a lot more important issues to deal with than pricing wine at Stone Blade.”
I was fortunate enough to earn a Culinary Arts degree from OSUIT back in 1996. I worked in the Restaurant Industry for over a decade in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Tulsa, Oklahoma. I can tell you from experience that what the MNBE CEO is doing by pricing wine is probably hurting Stone Blade. I know it ended up being a huge mark against the place. It wasn’t the money as much as it was that the price seemed ignorant for the type of wine it was. It’s like paying $9.79 for a Budweiser.
What makes it worse is that the server knows it and by the looks on their face, they have to listen to people complain about it all the time.
As a citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, I have an interest in seeing this restaurant succeed. I think it is good for the city of Okmulgee and this region. I like the way the staff is using social networking to promote the restaurant. I really like how they are taking advantage of the culinary school at OSUIT which is my alma mater.
The food is good. The service is friendly and professional. The food prices are decent but the wine prices are absolutely pathetic. Unfortunately, the menu doesn’t reflect this region’s food as much as I would like, especially the Creek culture. Original versions of wild onions, blue dumpling, grape dumplings, hominy and pork, red beans and sofke could be on the menu but aren’t. But I’m rooting for the staff at Stone Blade and wish them great success. I see great potential there.
Mr. Anderson and the MNBE need to figure out how to price a glass of wine. Or better yet, Mr. Anderson should get back to being CEO of the MNBE and let the staff at Stone Blade do their job.