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Rock Cafe

114 W. Main St., Stroud, OK - (918) 968-3990
Posted By Michael Stern on 3/29/2013 5:27:00 AM
This extremely well-worn cafe has been remodeled many times since it originally went up in 1939 as the last of Route 66 was being paved. Roy Rieves built it out of sandstone removed as the highway was constructed, and from 1959 to 1983 it was operated by Mamie Mayfield, who became a legendary hostess among long-haul truckers and road trippers on the old Mother Road. The current proprietor is Dawn Welch, a prodigious cook who credits the goodness of her food to the vintage griddle in the kitchen, which she describes as having been "seasoned for eternity."

Among Dawn's menu innovations are a chicken fried steak she makes out of a pork cutlet rather than a slab of beef. It is thick and juicy and fallapart tender, sheathed in a luxuriously brittle crust. Having been married to a man from Switzerland, she also broadened the menu with spaetzel (topped with melted jack and cheddar cheese) and apple streusel crepes. There are Mexican dishes, stir fries, po-boys, beignets, tall stacks of pancakes, and a short bowl of beans with cornbread on the side.

A cool destination halfway between Tulsa and Oklahoma City, the Rock Cafe survived a devastating fire in 2008, reborn with a bigger dining room, but with the same cozy local-cafe spirit. On the a set of shelves are over half a dozen guest books signed by visitors. "We are from Oslo," wrote a couple called Greta and Stein. "This is the only place between here and there," another customer contributed. Someone else drew a map of Corsica with a star marking home.

Stroud, which bills itself as the heart of the heartland, is a sleepy small town once known for its rough-and-tumble taverns, but now more famous for its every-July brick and rolling pin throwing competition.

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Chicken Fried Steak
Beignets
Hamburger
Cheeseburger
Hash Browns
Sauerkraut
Spaetzel
Apple Streusel Pancakes
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The European dumplings known as spaetzel are here used as the basis for a dish similar to loaded hash browns, i.e. mixed with peppers and tomatoes and topped with two kinds of cheese – Monterey jack and mozzarella. The difference is that the dumplings are firm and chewy and extra buttery.
"The European dumplings known as spaetzel are here used as the basis for a dish similar to loaded hash browns, i.e. mixed with peppers and tomatoes and topped with two kinds of cheese – Monterey jack and mozzarella. The difference is that the dumplings are firm and chewy and extra buttery."
Michael Stern





Here's a fine Route 66 Breakfast: chicken-fried steak with gravy, hash browns, and a couple of sunnyside-up eggs. The steak is unique because it is made not from beef, but from a pork cutlet.
"Here's a fine Route 66 Breakfast: chicken-fried steak with gravy, hash browns, and a couple of sunnyside-up eggs. The steak is unique because it is made not from beef, but from a pork cutlet."
Michael Stern


The old interior was a cozy spot to come for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Since the fire, the kitchen has been moved and seating capacity has doubled.
"The old interior was a cozy spot to come for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Since the fire, the kitchen has been moved and seating capacity has doubled."
Michael Stern


Not to be confused with the Hard Rock Cafe, this place is one-of-a-kind.
"Not to be confused with the Hard Rock Cafe, this place is one-of-a-kind."
Michael Stern


Served very hot, these beignets had a hard, crunchy exterior, with a soft, dense inside.  We would definitely order them again.
"Served very hot, these beignets had a hard, crunchy exterior, with a soft, dense inside. We would definitely order them again."
Cliff Strutz


When grilling potatoes, there is no substitute for a well-seasoned griddle or good old cast-iron frying pan. The proof is in Rock Cafe's hash browns, which are cooked on the restaurant's 70-year-old griddle. It is hard to describe the flavor it imparts, but it seems to make the potatoes glow with deep, rich character.
"When grilling potatoes, there is no substitute for a well-seasoned griddle or good old cast-iron frying pan. The proof is in Rock Cafe's hash browns, which are cooked on the restaurant's 70-year-old griddle. It is hard to describe the flavor it imparts, but it seems to make the potatoes glow with deep, rich character."
Michael Stern


The thick apple streusel crepes were a hit with my cousin who ordered them.
"The thick apple streusel crepes were a hit with my cousin who ordered them. "
Cliff Strutz


The new interior of Rock Cafe is spacious and attractive.  A group of locals exchange laughs over cups of coffee.
"The new interior of Rock Cafe is spacious and attractive. A group of locals exchange laughs over cups of coffee."
Cliff Strutz


Rock Cafe's owner Dawn Welch is believed to be the inspiration behind Sally Carrera, the blue Porsche in the movie Cars.
"Rock Cafe's owner Dawn Welch is believed to be the inspiration behind Sally Carrera, the blue Porsche in the movie Cars."
Cliff Strutz


Here is one good-looking cheeseburger that tastes good, too, for two main reasons: First, the beef is fresh and fatty enough to yield maximum juiciness; second, the griddle on which it cooks has been used for more than seven decades, giving everything that touches it a kind of edible authority … which is a fancy way to say it is delish.
"Here is one good-looking cheeseburger that tastes good, too, for two main reasons: First, the beef is fresh and fatty enough to yield maximum juiciness; second, the griddle on which it cooks has been used for more than seven decades, giving everything that touches it a kind of edible authority … which is a fancy way to say it is delish."
Michael Stern


Dawn Welch is proprietor, chef, dining-room ringmaster, and all-around good host.
"Dawn Welch is proprietor, chef, dining-room ringmaster, and all-around good host."
Michael Stern


The Rock Cafe's recipe file
"The Rock Cafe's recipe file"
Michael Stern


The Rock Cafe has been a Route 66 landmark since 1939.
"The Rock Cafe has been a Route 66 landmark since 1939."
Michael Stern


The secret to most of what's good on the menu is the kitchen's vintage griddle.
"The secret to most of what's good on the menu is the kitchen's vintage griddle."
Michael Stern


Rock Cafe's sauerkraut begins as ordinary stuff, like any of us would buy at the supermarket, but it takes on a special savor when chef Dawn Welch cooks it for a while on her grill. The warmth, the depth of flavor, the occasional bit of crispness elevate it to extraordinary.
"Rock Cafe's sauerkraut begins as ordinary stuff, like any of us would buy at the supermarket, but it takes on a special savor when chef Dawn Welch cooks it for a while on her grill. The warmth, the depth of flavor, the occasional bit of crispness elevate it to extraordinary."
Michael Stern



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