Homemade root beer stars at Soda Steve's Costa Rica-inspired eatery
BY NATALIE MIKLES World Scene Writer
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
6/23/11 at 9:50 AM
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Related Story: Pops on Route 66 makes little-known sodas the star
If summer had a taste it would be sweet. Fizzy. Fresh. It would definitely pop.
The drink of summer must be soda pop.
And judging by the traffic at Pops and Soda Steve's, we're not the only ones who think so.
When the heat turns up, the moisture beads on bottles of soda and runs down ice cold mugs of root beer. If it's hot enough to make a pop sweat, it must be soda season.
A reader's tip led us to drive about an hour and a half southeast of Tulsa to Soda Steve's. That's quite a drive for root beer. But the reader assured us this wasn't your average root beer.
Soda Steve's is a fun restaurant on the Fin and Feather property on the south end of Lake Tenkiller. Edamame and cheese fries share space on the eclectic menu, but the homemade root beer is the star.
Steve Pool dreamed up the restaurant while on a mission trip to Costa Rica. There, he fell for the small spots called sodas - a mix between a diner and a convenience store - where you can grab a home-cooked meal and a drink. Soda Brenda's was one of his favorites.
Pool and his wife, Lezli, are the co-owners of the Fin and Feather and thought one of these Costa Rican soda-inspired spots would be a fun addition to the Fin property.
"Basically everything I've ever wanted in a restaurant is in Soda Steve's," Pool said.
That includes a really good draft root beer.
Pool first looked into having a commercial root beer on tap, but once he delved into it, he decided he could make one even better.
"I have a pretty decent palate, and I knew what I was looking for. I didn't want one that was really thin, I wanted it to stay on the tongue a little bit longer," he said.
The first batch he made was admittedly terrible. The second batch wasn't much better. By the 10th, he knew he was getting somewhere. In the end, Pool made 39 batches of root beer and used 10 tasters. By the 39th batch, all 10 tasters picked the same batch as their favorite.
In terms of beer, Pool would classify his root beer as a full-bodied, rich Guinness Stout.
"Or in terms of wine, it's like a red wine. A big, heavy wine. You just kind of chew it," he said.
It's just the kind of thing you want to drink while eating cheese fries, of which Soda Steve's has an entire collection. Steve's straight-cut, skin-on fries are served with mounds of cheese and bacon. Then add spicy ranch or chili.
Burgers, sandwiches, onion rings, nachos: It's summertime food that's good with root beer or Soda Steve's other drinks, including a homemade cream soda, root beer float, vanilla cream float and root beer shake.
Soda Steve's also makes old-fashioned limeades. These are real-deal limeades, made uncarbonated with fresh limes and simple syrup.
Family on a mission
Steve Pool had his kids in mind when he started doing missions.
"I wanted them to see there weren't video games and air conditioning all around the world," he said.
When each of his three children turned 12, he took them on a mission trip. He most recently returned from South Africa with his youngest.
It was on a mission trip to Costa Rica that he was inspired to come back to open Soda Steve's, his restaurant on the Fin and Feather resort property at Lake Tenkiller.
The Pools' mission work is evident all over Soda Steve's. A slideshow of the family's mission work plays for customers to see, and a mission tip jar sits out for spare change. Pool even sells and serves his proprietary blend of coffee called Soda Steve's Mission Blend.
Pool has led several trips, including to Vietnam.
"My real calling is for Vietnam. I was 13 when the war was over, but it still feels like my generation's war. I had always wanted to go there," he said.
Pool was among those who took the first United Methodist-sponsored mission trip to Vietnam since the war ended.
"When I got there, I could see I was supposed to be doing missions in Vietnam," he said.
ROOT BEER PIE
12 ounces root beer -- chilled
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped pecans
1 egg white -- beaten
1 prepared pie crust
Pecans halves -- for garnish
1. Preheat oven to 375F degrees. Pour root beer into a sauce pan and heat over a medium flame. Reduce liquid until it is a syrup-like consistency. Let cool slightly. Melt the butter in a separate pan.
2. Combine the reduced root beer with corn syrup, brown sugar, melted butter, flour and chopped pecans and mix with a wire whisk until thoroughly blended. In a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs and stir well into a syrup mixture.
3. Prick the pie crust with a fork and then brush lightly with egg white. Pour the filling in to the shell, garnish with pecan halves and bake in the center of the oven for approximately 40 minutes. When a knife stuck in the center comes out clean, the pie is done. Cool before serving.
2 cups self-rising flour
2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa
1 cup Coca-Cola
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter
1 tablespoon cocoa
6 tablespoons Coca-Cola
1 box confectioner's sugar, (1pound)
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1. Grease and flour a 9 x 13-inch pan and set aside.
2. In a large bowl combine flour and sugar. In a saucpan combine the cocoa, Coca-Cola, butter, and marshmallows; bring to a boil. Combine the boiled mixture with the flour and sugar mixture.
3. In a separate bowl mix eggs, buttermilk, baking soda, and vanilla; add to the first mixture. Pour into prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes, until cake tests done.
4. Frosting: In a saucepan, bring butter, cocoa, and Coca-Cola to a boil. Stir in the sugar and mix well. Stir in nuts. Spread over the cake while both cake and frosting are still warm.
DR. PEPPER PEANUT BRITTLE
Makes 1 1/2 pounds
1 1/4 cups of sugar
3/4 cups of butter (1 1/2 sticks)
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne
1/4 cup of Dr Pepper
2 cups roasted and salted peanuts, shelled
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Combine all the ingredients except for the baking soda in a pot, cook on medium heat and bring to a boil stirring often.
3. When the temperature reaches 290 degrees, remove from heat and stir in soda. Mixture will foam up and double in size.
4. Spread mixture thin on baking sheet using a silicone spatula.
5. When mixture cools and hardens (about half an hour), break into pieces and serve.
Source: adapted from “Cooking With Dr Pepper and 7Up” by Homesicktexan.blogspot.com
BEEF BRISKET WITH COLA
3/4 cup cola
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon beef bouillon granules
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, ground
2 medium onions, chopped
1 1/2 pound beef roast or brisket piece
1/2 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons margarine or butter
1. For meat: Mix all ingredients up to and including red pepper. Reserve 1/2 cup for sauce. Cut meat to fit crock pot. Place onions in crock pot and meat on top of onions. Pour remaining liquid over meat. Cover and cook 10-12 hours on low, 5-6 hours on high.
2. For sauce: Combine 1/2 cup reserved liquid, ketchup and margarine in saucepan. Heat. Set aside. Shred cooked meat. Serve on buns or tortillas. Pass sauce.
Nutrition: 270 calories, 12g fat, 14g carbohydrates, 25g protein.
COCA COLA BARBECUE SAUCE
Makes 1 quart
12 ounces Coca-Cola
1 1/2 cup ketchup
1 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
Hot Pepper Sauce (Tabasco) to taste
1. Bring ingredients just to boil, then reduce to simmer for 30 to 45 minutes and sauce thickens.
ALTON BROWN'S BLUEBERRY SODA
20 ounces fresh blueberries, approximately 4 cups, rinsed and drained
2 cups water
7 ounces sugar
1 lime, juiced
1. Place the blueberries and the water into a medium saucepan, set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.
2. Remove the saucepan from the heat and pour the mixture into a colander lined with cheesecloth that is set in a large bowl. Allow to cool for 15 minutes.
3. Gather up the edges of the cheesecloth and squeeze out as much of the liquid as possible. Discard the skin and pulp. Return the blueberry juice to the saucepan along with the sugar and lime juice. Place over medium high heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer to a heatproof glass container and place in the refrigerator, uncovered, until completely cooled.
To Serve: Combine 1/4 cup of the liquid with 8-ounces of carbonated water and serve over ice.
On the Fin and Feather resort property at Lake Tenkiller
Original Print Headline: For the love of soda pop
Natalie Mikles 918-581-8486
Steve Pool was inspired to open Soda Steve's after falling for Costa Rica's small eateries called "sodas." STEPHEN PINGRY / Tulsa World
A root beer float is served at Soda Steve's. STEPHEN PINGRY / Tulsa World