Pub W might sound like a Bush family venture. It’s not, of course, but it does have a political connection by way of Hal W. Smith.
Smith founded Norman-based Hal Smith Restaurant Group, which includes Pub W and seven other Tulsa-area eateries. Other holdings include The Winston, a boutique restaurant-bar in Norman.
“The W in Hal’s middle name stands for Winston, and he was named after Winston Churchill,” said Brandon Kistler, managing partner and creator of Pub W and The Winston.
Kistler, also the man behind Smitty’s Garage and Louie’s Grill & Bar, was in town recently to launch the first Pub W outside the Oklahoma City-Norman area. It is in the new Shops at Warren Place on the southwest corner of 61st Street and Yale Avenue.
To think of Pub W as your basic pub does not do it justice. Yes, it has a gigantic bar area and plenty of libations, but it also features a creative menu that stacks up well against some of the better restaurants in town.
The main dining room also is family friendly, and we saw a few families dining together on a recent weeknight when we visited with friends.
All of that being said, one of our dining partners said anything with “pub” in its name better have fish and chips, and the fish and chips better be good. Pub W came through on both counts.
The lightly battered whitefish ($13) had a nice crispiness on the outside and a perfect texture inside. The fish came with long, hot fries, tasty tartar sauce and slices of lemon.
The Killer B’s burger ($12) included a good-sized lean patty paired with thick bacon, crumbled blue cheese, a balsamic glaze, tomato, lettuce and mayo on a soft brioche bun. It came with a choice of fries or edamame, and again, we opted for the fries.
From the list of entrees, we also ordered the beer-braised pork shoulder ($14) and the 7-ounce filet ($29).
The crispy yet tender chunks of pork were smothered, and I mean smothered, in a sweet sautéed apple-onion compote and served with mashed potatoes and long, very green, green beans, plus a piece of jalapeno toast.
The filet was on par with a number of others we have had for more money. It was cooked a perfect medium-rare, topped with garlic-Worcestershire butter and served with mashed potatoes and balsamic-glazed Brussels sprouts. The Brussels sprouts were tender and not too fibrous.
We shared a couple of appetizers, baked pretzels ($7) and creamy onion dip ($6). The six pretzels were about the size of a standard hot dog. They were soft, had just the right amount of salt and came with a flavorful beer cheese sauce. The sweet onion dip came with crispy house-made potato chips.
The menu is lengthy, so everyone should find something appealing. I would like to try Pub W’s version of avocado toast, chipotle meatloaf, chicken and Brie sandwich, Mama’s chicken casserole and a little number called chupacabra, a sandwich filled with chipotle chicken, grilled jalapenos, grilled onions, Muenster cheese and spicy aioli on jalapeno bread.
Pub W also has a separate brunch menu served from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. Fried chicken is offered all day Sundays and Tuesdays. Vegan and gluten-free items are available.
The bar features 27 beers on tap, including 18 Oklahoma brews. It also has wines and specialty cocktails. The person who ordered the fish and chips walked away double happy after ordering a fabulous seasonal cocktail, Laser Beams & Red Weeds ($6), that included Cointreau, fresh lemon juice, orange blossom water, soda, orange bitters and an edible hibiscus flower.
A popular feature has been the happy-hour specials. All house wine, draft old fashioneds and draft margaritas are $3 each at 3 p.m., $4 at 4 p.m. and $5 at 5 p.m. Oklahoma draft beers are $1 off from 3-6 p.m.
The large bar and dining room have a clean, modern look. We counted 16 televisions, most turned to basketball games when we were there. The noise level was pretty loud, but we still managed fairly normal conversation.
Pub W is the second of three Hal Smith restaurants to open in the Shops at Warren Place. Mahogany Prime Steakhouse opened first. The next will be Neighborhood JA.M., a chef-driven breakfast-brunch spot.
“Neighborhood JA.M. will be something,” Kistler said. “It’s not unusual to have a two-hour wait at the one in north Oklahoma City.”