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Greater Tulsa Reporter

International Food Options at Osage Casino in Tulsa

Managing Editor

EDIBLE CHOICES: Che Buono!, a coffee, pastry and pizza bar, left, recently opened at Osage Casino. Chef Jesus Lorenzo, right, came to Osage Casino less than two years ago and set about creating new lunch and dinner buffet choices and opening Che Buono!.

While Osage Casino’s 50,000 square-foot casino and event center opened in 2005, its restaurant offerings are much newer in comparison. After Chef Jesus Lorenzo was hired less than two years ago, he wasted no time in bringing his own special touches to the casino.

Lorenzo, hailing from Venezuela, didn’t come to Osage looking for an easy gig.
Through the course of his career, he has worked for hotels, country clubs and resorts. He has prepared dishes for President George Bush, government leaders in China and Egypt, and NFL’s Super Bowl XXXVIII. His more than 20 years of work experience is quite lengthy and diverse.

Yet, after all of that, “I find casinos the most challenging,” he says, “and I enjoy the unexpected elements.

“At a casino, it could be a Monday, and you’re expecting a slow day and all of the sudden you get 200 people coming through the door.”

Once Lorenzo came to Osage, he changed the restaurant concept and added a separate pizza and coffee bar.

The restaurant serves a buffet from a different region of the world each day of the week: Italian, Mexican, Cajun, Asian, soul food, Caribbean and barbecue, with the traditional surf and turf offerings on Friday and Saturday evenings. “While it’s pretty traditional for casinos to have buffets, we have regular guests, and I want to offer them different choices,” says Lorenzo.

Anyone who takes a bite of one of his dishes can tell that much detail has been taken in choosing ingredients and ensuring freshness. Food is made from scratch, Lorenzo is quick to point out, making everything taste homemade, not commercial made.

And my stomach agreed. Not quite realizing the deliciousness waiting for me towards the entrée end of the buffet, I spent a little too much time stuffing my enthusiastic face with salad—I do love my greens, and Lorenzo did not scrimp on salad topping options nor on bright green spinach.

The Asian entrée options included the traditional chicken and beef dishes, but that does not always ensure enjoyment, I have come to realize over the years. These entrees, however, were served piping hot (sometimes a challenge for a buffet) and flavorful.

My stomach notified me to cease eating if I wanted dessert, but my mouth would not obey. I bemoaned my lack of foresight; yet I still reached for chocolate cake on the four-level dessert case.

My next plan is to resurface on Friday for soul food day, the most popular food day of the week, says Lorenzo. Although, that Asian day is still calling my name.

Lorenzo’s idea to create a day for soul food partly came from the fact that no one else was doing that, he says. But, the bottom line is it’s all about the customer experience.

And Lorenzo is not solely relying on the food to do that.

Once guests have passed through the casino to enter the restaurant at the back of the building, it’s all too easy to forget that a casino lies directly on the other side of the walls—besides the occasional clang of a winning machine.

The dining room seats 180 and offers calm but interesting lighting of red hues, which wouldn’t be thought to initiate easy feelings, but in this setting it works. A long buffet spans the far wall, offering patrons lengthy meal possibilities.

Yet, the restaurant isn’t the only eating option at Osage. As I slipped out of the restaurant in a much snugger pair of jeans than I remembered walking in with, I found Che Buono!, a coffee, pastry and pizza bar, a combination that causes many to scratch their head at first, Lorenzo says. While he understands that those things may not fall into the same category, they offer guests a nice range of selections. Those who like coffee can choose from the shop’s array of freshly-roasted coffees and pastries. Lorenzo, a lifelong coffee lover, works to purchase quality coffees that are not too dark or roasted too early to maintain freshness.

Those looking for a more filling option can vouch for a pizza in which they choose their toppings.

“If I were a regular guest, I wouldn’t want to always have the same thing,” Lorenzo said to me in regards to his daily buffet; however, it equally applies to Che Buono! and the array of experiences that Chef Lorenzo has endeavored successfully to bring to this bustling casino.

Updated 06-10-2013

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