Review by Scott Cherry Photos by Matt Barnard
Jeff Marlow was an invaluable behind-the-scenes chef for Vista at the Boathouse restaurant at Gathering Place.
Marlow, executive chef at the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma, was asked to step out front for Gathering Place’s latest venture.
Gathering Place recently took over the restaurant operation at its sister public park, Guthrie Green, and launched EnjoyaBowl.
“I was a consultant for almost a year for Vista at the Boathouse,” Marlow said. “It started when Gathering Place was building the restaurant and reached out to the food bank to use our kitchen for recipe tastings.
“From there, they invited me to help with the formal tastings for Vista and help the Vista chefs get the restaurant off the ground and make sure it opened smoothly.”
Marlow said when Gathering Place took over the Guthrie Green dining space, he was asked if he would be interested in developing a new concept.
“I said, ‘Absolutely, what do you think you want?’” he said. “They said, ‘We don’t know, but we just know we want it in a bowl.’ There were so many things I could do in bowls, and I was having fun writing the menu.”
Marlow gave the limited menu — five appetizers, two salads, six entrees — an Asian twist. Mediterranean and Italian influences were in the mix, too.
“Most of the dishes have an Asian flair of some type,” he said. “In our Southwestern Thai chicken nachos, for instance, we used wonton chips instead of tortilla chips and we blended a Thai peanut sauce with a green chile white queso. It really is good.”
We recently blended a trip to EnjoyaBowl with a send-off for a good friend of ours who will be living and working in Brooklyn, New York, for the next year. None of us ordered the nachos, a handy reason to return soon.
We shared an order of four veggie egg rolls ($7) and a bowl of egg drop soup ($5) while deciding on our entrees.
The fried egg rolls came with a tasty orange chili dipping sauce, and the mellow egg drop soup had green onions, fried wonton strips, ginger and soy sauce in a chicken-based broth. Instead of egg “drops,” the dish had a medium fried egg, which I liked.
For our entrees, we chose orange chicken ($8), sweet-and-sour pork ($8) and veggie blend on ramen ($8).
I later learned the orange chicken has been the most popular dish. Seven chunks of fried chicken were served over white rice dotted with chopped green onion and served with a side of sweet chili orange sauce. The sauce is not spicy-hot and should be appealing to a wide range of diners.
Twelve tender, fried pork bites were served with rice and a slightly spicy sweet-and-sour sauce. It also should be a popular choice for a mixed audience.
The ramen bowl was loaded with red, green and yellow peppers, edamame, green onions, carrots and noodles. It was a mellow, pleasant mixture.
During our follow-up photo shoot, I also had an opportunity to taste the firecracker chicken wings (eight for $10). They were delicious. The wings, sprinkled with black and white sesame seeds, were flavored with gochujang, a sweet and spicy red chili paste, and orange sauce.
A children’s menu includes a choice of mac and cheese, chicken nuggets with Go-Gurt and Smucker’s Uncrustables peanut butter and jelly with Go-Gurt for $5 each.
Soy sauce, hot sauce, utensils, napkins, salt, pepper and chopsticks are available at a self-serve station. All of the food containers are recyclable.
EnjoyaBowl has craft cocktails and a modest but workable list of wines and beers to go with lemonade, soft drinks, tea and coffee.
The restaurant is on the dock area, high on the north end, with a full view of Guthrie Green. Parents and children were playing together in the park when we were there. The park should be buzzing Thursday night, Oct. 3, when a showing of the “Rocketman” movie is scheduled. EnjoyaBowl also can serve beverages out a side window during events.
Large glass windows bring in plenty of sunshine to the 24-seat dining area. Fresh flowers are on the tables, and new shadow boxes displaying the food items are coming soon. Plenty of outdoor seating is available on the dock.
Sean Savage is director of culinary for Vista and EnjoyaBowl. General manager Mel Shuman and Breanna Smith came from Vista to run the day-to-day operation. This is why it is difficult to sneak into places: Smith waited on us when we reviewed Vista.
This is the fourth restaurant to occupy this space since Guthrie Green opened to the public in 2012. Lucky’s on the Green, which offered “international park fare,” was the first occupant. Mr. Nice Guys took over in 2017, followed in 2018 by Green-wich, a concept of the Justin Thompson Restaurant group.