Rusty Crane: Impressive renovation turns warehouse into posh eatery
BY SCOTT CHERRY World Restaurant Critic
Thursday, November 01, 2012
3/28/13 at 8:02 AM
The announcement last week that the Tulsa Drillers have scheduled additional fireworks nights - 17 in all - for next baseball season must have been grand-slam news for the owners of the new Rusty Crane restaurant.
Only a parking lot sits between ONEOK Field and the Rusty Crane patio, where diners have a clear view of the left-field bleachers, left- and center-field picnic areas, and the scoreboard, making it (forgive me) a dynamite spot for fireworks nights.
"We had some family and friends gather on the patio during fireworks nights while we were building out the restaurant, and it was pretty fun," owner Lee Brennan said.
We went by on an unseasonably cold weeknight, so we chose to take one of the two remaining tables in the main dining room.
The menu was a mix of American grill and Southwest-slanted dishes in the form of sandwiches, salads, wraps, burgers, tacos, a few entrees and what the Rusty Crane calls yumladas, a take on traditional enchiladas.
We started off with a black bean hummus appetizer that was earthy and flavorful. We were told it had a little cilantro mixed in, but it was hardly noticeable. It came with sliced red and yellow peppers, cucumbers, carrots and wheat tortilla chips.
Our dishes included a turkey bacon wrap ($7.99), pulled pork tacos ($8.99) and side Caesar salad ($2.99).
The wrap included turkey breast meat, bacon, avocado slices, lettuce, tomato and red onion. A spicy chipotle mayo gave the flavor a little bite. It came with thin-sliced sweet potato fries.
The pulled pork had a lot of fat on it, a negative for some and a plus for those who like their meat juicy and tender. It was served on two corn tortillas with red onions and sliced avocados.
The tacos came with chips and salsa, and a choice of one side. We selected black beans and rice, and the crunchy rice was barely cooked, if at all.
The good-sized side Caesar had romaine lettuce, tomato, Parmesan cheese and, for a little twist, sliced almonds in a nicely balanced dressing.
A couple of other items of note on the menu include the signature yumlada ($12.49) with chicken, bell peppers, red onion, garlic, black beans, spinach, alfredo sauce, cheese and cilantro, and the chicken wings ($10.99) tossed in rusty dust (a cumin-laced condiment) and served with a house-made cilantro-ranch dipping sauce.
Late-night diners will like the fact that the full Rusty Crane menu is available until closing. Rusty Crane also has what it calls a No Crash Lunch menu, featuring nutritious items designed to give one energy rather than a craving for an after-lunch nap.
The Rusty Crane has full bar service, including specialty cocktails and serviceable wine and beer selections.
Brennan, whose parents once owned a good barbecue joint called Paddy-O Barbecue, has directed one of the most impressive renovations of the many downtown warehouse spaces.
He took the former glass plant back to its brick walls and kept remodeling to a minimum, using repurposed materials throughout the restaurant.
Honeycomb brick for the bar and a pony wall was recovered from renovations of the Mayo Hotel. Many tabletops were made from doors that had to be removed in the building and still show carpenters' markings. Old black-and-white family photos are laminated on other tables. Works of local artists and old photos of Tulsa decorate the walls.
The old freight elevator serves as a booth for one table, and the wooden freight floor scales still work. Original steel girders, duct work and pipes for the new fire suppression system are exposed.
It has event space for 50 upstairs and a private room for 25 on the ground floor.
109 N. Detroit Ave.
Service: (on a scale of 0 to 4 stars)
11 a.m. to midnight Sunday-
Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Friday-Saturday; accepts all
major credit cards.
Original Print Headline: Dynamite spot
Scott Cherry 918-581-8463
Diners eat lunch at the bar at the new Rusty Crane. The honeycomb bricks around the bar came from the Mayo Hotel. JAMES GIBBARD / Tulsa World
The Rusty Crane's signature yumlada includes chicken, peppers, onions, black beans and sauce. JAMES GIBBARD / Tulsa World