by Tom Fink
Rogers County’s newest restaurant has brought a little bit of Texas to Claremore. Following months of anticipation and preparation, Cotton Patch Café opened its doors to the public last Tuesday, offering Southern comfort food, and hand-battered, fried goodness to all. After waiting a few days to allow the “first week” crowds to diminish, we visited the latest restaurant on Claremore’s culinary landscape Saturday night and were impressed from the moment we first pulled into the parking lot to the moment we left, feeling satisfied and well-looked after.
From the moment you open the front door and are greeted with the message “Being here feels like coming home” written on a wall decorated with barnwood, everything about Cotton Patch Café feels like being welcomed into the home of a southern relative. Much of the décor was reminiscent of a style I’d describe as “farmhouse/ industrial,” utilizing natural barnwood wherever possible, exposed ductwork, and chandelier lighting with the bulbs covered in modified Mason jars. Behind the bar, four big-screen televisions, all set on sports channels, played in unison, and in the room with additional dining, a giant-screen TV also played sports, and the tables were set under a dropped ceiling decorated with a patchwork of faux metals — copper, tin, and more, and throughout the restaurant, country and western music could be heard playing, audible, but not so loud as to be distracting or disruptive to a conversation. “Is this your first time at Cotton Patch?” we were asked, while being seated after a minimal wait. “Yes, it is, thank you,” I answered.
Our waitress for the evening, Virginia, was prompt and polite, continuing the “at home” atmosphere, helping us where we needed assistance in making our selection, being attentive to our thoughts and making suggestions accordingly. After a few moments, we settled on our choices — I opted for the most southern thing I could find on the menu: chicken fried steak with sides of fried mushrooms and green beans, and my wife ordered the blackened tilapia, served on a bed of rice, fried okra, and garlic mashed potatoes. As we waited for our order, we were treated to some of the best rolls I’ve ever had — brown without being overcooked, and golden and soft without being doughy — exactly what my southern grandma would have made, had she been from the south and been able to cook. The meal itself was spot-on satisfaction, with the large chicken fried steak sporting just enough gravy made from scratch to accent the taste of the savory beef without overwhelming it, and the breading to beef ratio couldn’t have been any more perfect. Flanking this meal-in-itself chicken fried steak were the fried mushrooms, not spicy, but with a satisfying flavor, and the green beans, which — to my pleasant surprise — were prepared with bits of real bacon. As for my wife’s meal, I can only base this review on her reaction which was nothing short of “extreme satisfaction,” eliciting numerous smiles, thumbs up, and happy nods.
Halfway through our meal, one of the restaurant’s trainers, Barbara, I believe her name was, checked on us (as well as other customers) to make sure we were being taken care of. Following our meal, which we couldn’t finish on sight because of the portions, we took our desserts to go — coconut cream pie and blackberry cobbler, both of which were still as delicious the next day as if we’d eaten them the night of our meal.
Bottom Line: With as many good restaurants as Claremore already has, it can always use more, and Cotton Patch more than fills that niche. Excellent service, delicious food, courteous and thoughtful staff, down home atmosphere, and an overall very pleasant dining experience. Highly recommended. On the way out the door, I found the girl who took us to our seat to make the following comment: “You asked us if this was our first time at Cotton Patch? Yes, but I can tell you, it won’t be our last.”
Cotton Patch Café is located at 820 S. Lynn Riggs (SH66) Boulevard in Claremore.