Sunday brunch at Waterfront Grill when the weather cooperates has to be one of the most pleasant dining experiences around.
In a parallel universe, I could picture ladies and gentlemen showing up dressed as though they were going to the Kentucky Derby or Wimbledon. Big hats. Sundresses. Genteel and lovely.
On a recent Sunday, large umbrellas stationed over a series of tables on the patio overlooking the Arkansas River protected diners from the direct sun, and a cool breeze was helped along by small ceiling fans. Large potted flowers in full bloom added to the ambience.
The patio also has a fire pit and portable heaters. That the river on this particular day was mostly sand bars did not diminish the setting.
On the food side, Waterfront Grill has a special Sunday brunch menu, build-your-own omelet station and bloody mary bar. Diners also may select anything from the full dinner menu available all week.
From the brunch menu our party ordered Parisian Eggs Benedict ($13) and from the regular menu fish and chips ($15) and prime-rib sandwich ($18), along with spinach-artichoke dip ($12), French onion soup ($5), a wedge salad ($8) and crab, avocado and mango stack ($15).
The crab stack has been one of our favorite appetizers since Waterfront Grill opened more than four years ago just across the 91st Street bridge in Jenks.
Shaped like a can of corn, only a little shorter and wider, the stack featured layers of lump crab meat tossed in remoulade sauce, avocado and mango, and topped with minced red bell peppers and pancetta. The crab drives the flavor of this dish, as pretty as it is tasty.
Parisian Eggs Benedict included shaved ham, sauteed mushrooms, Swiss cheese and poached eggs on a croissant and topped with hollandaise sauce. I loved the combination of flavors in this dish, perhaps more than a traditional Benedict.
It came with skillet cottage potatoes, chopped into small bites and dotted with red and green peppers. The flavor was fine, but unfortunately, mine were cold. A nice touch, though, was a slice of cantaloupe and a small, chocolate-covered strawberry.
The sandwich was piled high with thin-sliced prime-rib cooked medium-rare and served on a hoagie roll. It came with sides of horseradish-cream sauce and au jus, and both were excellent dipping sauces.
The fish and chips featured two good-sized fillets of beer-battered Alaskan cod that were lightly fried and had a fresh flavor. It came with a little serving of coleslaw and good cocktail sauce and tartar sauce.
The latter two dishes came with OK skinny fries, but only a big eater probably would finish the sizable servings.
The soup had a lot of cheese and bread over a nice broth swimming with tender slices of onion, and the fresh wedge salad was made with tomatoes, blue cheese crumbles, red onions, bacon and a blue cheese dressing, and sprinkled with chopped green onions.
The spinach-artichoke dip was plenty for our group to share. It was a cheesy blend of Parmigiano-Reggiano, spinach, artichoke hearts and applewood-smoked bacon, served with sour cream, salsa and house-made chips. The salsa was mildly spicy and had a touch of cilantro.
I noted a number of items on the brunch menu I would like to try on a return visit, including corned beef hash and poached eggs, chicken and waffles, tamales de pollo con huevos and an omelet with my choice of ingredients.
“What sets us apart out here is the bloody mary bar and the omelet station,” said food and beverage director Jimmy Blacketer. “We have more than 20 items to choose from on the omelet station. It’s a six-egg omelet, about the size of half a football, and people are really having fun with it. It’s been a huge success.
“One of our biggest selling items has been the chicken and waffles. It wasn’t a huge surprise, but it was a little.”
Children’s items on the brunch menu, all priced $6, include waffle bites, one egg with bacon or sausage, chocolate-chip pancakes and French toast sticks.
In addition to the bloody mary bar and full bar service, the restaurant offers $2 mimosas and what it calls manmosas for $5 during brunch hours.
“Brunch diners are very loyal, so if you do things right they will come back,” Blacketer said. “We do our best to do things right.”