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TLO Restaurant Review: Classen Grill

Back in the 1990s, when I was a spry teenage Louis, I became a regular at Classen Grill near the Donnay Building – frequently finding myself skipping homeroom for a greasy, home-cooked, beatnick breakfast, usually an omelet with some fresh orange juice and coffee.

It always hit the spot, giving me the errant energy for second period and, of course, lunch.

As time went on and a new millennium and adulthood emerged, I found myself stopping by Classen Grill less and less often as both it and the area fell into neglect. The food and service had gone way downhill, and by the time the restaurant closed a few years ago as part of Donnay Building renovations, it felt more like "Good Riddance" than "Goodbye."

It's been a few years since the old Classen Grill closed, and I'm happy to report a new and improved incarnation has taken its place.

I stopped by this past weekend under my boss's orders, and I have to say: You really need to check it out.

After grabbing a table and meeting a friendly server, the first thing I did was order some fresh-squeezed orange juice. A signature of the old Classen Grill, the nectar-rich fluids are processed in-house by a futuristic orange-crushing machine.

As the machine did its magic, I looked at my surroundings and felt like I was sitting in Pee-Wee Herman’s living room. The place had not only been given a second chance but a total cosmetic facelift with pop art lined on desert walls.

My OJ quickly arrived, and I took a heavy swig. It was served with a wonderful complimentary basket of mini-corn muffins and sweet marmalade jam.

To be sure, the juice was truly magical. As I plaintively took the cup from my lips to my chest like a dying alcoholic, it was purely refreshing, just like it should be.

I then grabbed a muffin, doused it with the jam, and popped it in my mouth, providing a spicy kick to balance the sweetness of the juice. It was already a splendid breakfast, and breakfast hadn’t even started yet!

Wanting something substantial with plenty of greens and the like, my girlfriend ordered the inventive Garden Hash ($12.00).

Featuring roasted Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, sweet potato, mushrooms, onions, and spinach, and it was topped with two seasoned eggs, pickled cilantro slaw, and cotija cheese.

She was in awe of this dish, with the zingy brussel sprouts being a total treat and the butternut squash and sweet potatoes forging their identity. But it was the zest of the pickled cilantro and cotija cheese that really tied it all together, making it truly special.

For my breakfast plate, I had to try my alma mater’s namesake – the Classen Omelet ($12.00) with Green Chile Grit Cakes as a side.

The omelet was a three-egg classic beater with cheddar, caramelized onion, and the best al pastor possible for a brunch joint, topped with green onion, crema, house-made hot sauce, and pickled cilantro slaw.

First of all, the Green Chile Grit Cakes are amazing. Buttery grits and turned into a spicy, cheesy creation, they have to be tasted to be believed. Definitely order them as your side.

The omelet itself was the absolute bomb! Expertly crafted, simply folded, and putting a smile on my face, the caramelized onions and delectable al pastor were truly remarkable. And, once again, the pickled cilantro slaw works wonders!

From back in the day to right here, right now, Classen Grill, with new tried and true recipes that pay proper respect to the original, is one of the true highlights of the burgeoning breakfast culture in Oklahoma City.

I no longer have school to skip, but I look forward to becoming a regular customer again, and taking one more glass of juice for the road!

Cómpralo ya!


Follow Louis Fowler on Instagram at @louisfowler78.

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