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Press to Play: The Outside Dining of a Grateful Lunch at the Press

5:17 AM EDT on September 23, 2021

The Press, located at 1610 N. Gatewood in the Plaza District, has long been one of my favorite restaurants to dine alone at, but recently it’s ticked a new box in my heart for it’s large outdoor area which, during these Covid-increased times, has become important when deciding to eat out, especially with a mutt like Sean in tow. At least it is for me.

A couple of times a month, I tend to eat there by myself, having a nice enough lunch and then a walk around the gentrified district before heading back to my own personal hellhole, always on foot and always in the sun. But, a couple of weeks ago, I took my good friend and noted gal-pal Jodie there for lunch, mostly because she had not been there before and I wanted to get her opinion on it...

Seated outside in their (once again) spacious patio, we sipped on our glasses of ice water while choosing our dishes—so far, everything I’ve had at the Press has been good, I told her, except for the Native Tacos, of course. Regardless, selections ordered, we waited for a few minutes in the shade, watching a trio of well-to-do women and a tiny dog begging for food.

Poor dog, I thought.

Undeniably Southern, for our appetizer I settled on the Chips and Caviar ($6.00) which, being Oklahoman, is nowhere as hoity-toity as the name somewhat makes it out to be. Alongside a bit of (what I’m assuming are) home-made tortilla chips is the so-called caviar, here a right-on mix of black-eyed peas, tomatoes, red onions, bell peppers and Italian dressing.

If I’m being honest, at first I was a bit worried that Jodie wouldn’t get down with such a traditional dish, but I let out a mannish squeal of culinary delight when she went back to the bowl with repeated gusto, enjoying the overwhelming vinegary aftertaste of the beans and vegetables that make everything seem alright in the world, or at least the appetizer segment of it.

With little time to let that Okie caviar swim in our filling bellies, our lunchtime specials were brought out to us, with the first one being Jodie’s Buffalo Mac ($11.00). Premium mac and cheese—made with Radiatori pasta, if that means anything —is paired with large morsels of chicken drenched in a premium buffalo sauce, then a bit of green onions and bleu cheese are added, with a welcoming ranch drizzled across the top.

While I had never had this lowdown meal before, from the forkfuls I selfishly took from Jodie’s plate, I can tell that I’ve been unduly missing out; the spicy chicken was bathed in a flavorful cheese that, when combined with the pasta, formed a well of grown-up tastes that aged me about five years with every bite.

I mean this in the best way possible, mind you.

I only had a few years worth of bites though, because I had my perennial favorite at the Press right in front of me, the always and anytime dish of the utterly upscale Pork Belly Dinner ($12.00), for lunch, a hearty helping living up to a rule that, so far, has always done me good in life: if there’s pork belly on the menu, you had better fuckin’ order it.

And while I haven’t tasted all of the pork belly to be found in Oklahoma City, the Press has definitely got some of the best I’ve had, with each grilled sliver of fatty perfection dancing effortlessly on a bed of mashed sweet potatoes, complete with a covering of candy apple bacon gravy to keep it nice and warm—both me and the pork belly.

It’s one of those meals that you ingest slowly while displaying the utmost passion for life, like a Southern opera singer that, for the next half hour or so, was vocally belting a cross between “Figaro” and “Champagne Jam” in-between every bite, to an internal audience of only me and my insatiable hunger for this always satisfying lunch.

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Follow Louis on Twitter at @LouisFowler and Instagram at @louisfowler78.

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