Local Dining by BLAKE AUSTYN
CONTINUED QUALITY: Michael and Carol Minden stand in their restaurant, Michael V’s, 8222 E. 103rd St. in Bixby. In January, they will celebrate the restaurant’s 10-year anniversary. The restaurant’s menu features classical dishes, such as Beef Wellington, as well as local favorites, like Chicken Fried Steak. Pictured at left is the Coconut Cream Pie, one of the restaurant’s most popular desserts.
BLAKE AUSTYN for GTR Newspapers
In January, Michael V’s Restaurant, 8222 E. 103rd St., will celebrate 10 years in business.
Owners, husband and wife team, Michael and Carol Minden opened the restaurant in 2006 with decades of experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry.
Michael graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1971 and was then recruited to help open Walt Disney World.
“It was the best experience of my career: to come out of one of the best culinary schools in the world and to join a company like Walt Disney World,” says Michael.
After 10 years, Michael left Walt Disney World and worked for various hotels, resorts and country clubs before joining Marriott.
He met Carol when they were working together opening a Marriott hotel.
Carol is a graduate of Michigan State University’s Hotel School and has worked for various hotel chains as catering director, convention services director, and food and beverage director.
Michael and Carol moved around the country, living in various places, before Carol was offered a job with DoubleTree at Warren Place in Tulsa.
When they moved to Tulsa, Michael found a job with SouthCrest Hospital, helping to open the hospital, create its menu and hire nutritionists.
Michael and Carol made the move into restaurant ownership when Michael was offered the opportunity to buy Back Street Bistro in Jenks. They owned the eatery for seven years before the property was taken over by the Jenks school district.
However, the Mindens weren’t down for long.
They heard about a shopping center being built on the border of Tulsa and Bixby, “a part of town that we knew would be an area of a lot of growth,” Michael says.
During the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma’s Restaurant Week, I visited Michael V’s to try some of its heralded dishes. I figured that it was a perfect time to try the restaurant, while helping a local organization.
Before ordering, our waiter brought out bread with delicious house-made garlic butter. The butter made it hard to stop eating the bread.
For my three-course Restaurant Week prix-fixe meal, I chose the Signature Salad, Chicken Oscar and Coconut Creme Pie for dessert.
My tablemate ordered off the regular menu and chose Pan-Seared Tilapia.
The Signature Salad was a nice size, full of dark, leafy lettuce with raspberry vinaigrette, apples, candied pecans and goat cheese.
Chicken Oscar is one of many Oscars offered on the menu. The pan-seared chicken came topped with asparagus, crab and a creamy béarnaise sauce and with mashed potatoes. The creaminess of the sauce combined with the mashed potatoes makes this a great comfort dish.
My friend’s Pan-Seared Tilapia was tender and came with shrimp plus a nice selection of vegetables: mushrooms, artichoke hearts and fresh spinach.
The Coconut Cream Pie is one of Michael’s specialties. The pie slice is large and sweet yet very light. Michael is so confident about its quality, “If you don’t like it, I’ll buy it,” he laughs.
The menu at Michael V’s has a classical slant, Michael’s preference:
“I’ve worked for and studied under many classical chefs so I just really like that style.”
However, he’s come to realize that there are some non-classical dishes that Oklahomans just want. Like Chicken Fried Steak.
Michael eventually offered the dish as a special at Back Street Bistro; the response was so positive, “it’s been on our menu ever since,” he says.
Other popular menu items include Beef Wellington, Baby Lamb Chops and the Tenderloin Ravioli Stacker, with an eight-ounce filet mignon, spinach ravioli, red pepper marinara cream sauce, mushrooms and spinach, a dish that Michael says appeared to him in a dream. He woke up the next day and created the recipe.
The Snickers Brownie Pie is another loved menu item that Michael first created in his dreams.
After making it for real, he entered the dessert in a state competition with US Foods and won first place.
Other popular menu items include the variety of Oscar dishes, with the choice of salmon, halibut, veal, chicken and filet, and the Chicken Marsala and Veal Marsala.
“We’ve designed our menu with a little bit of everything,” says Michael.
However, because Michael V’s has built many regular customers through the years, “we find that if we try to change the menu, our customers don’t like that,” he says.
Instead, various specials are offered throughout the week and weekend. Michael is also willing to cater a dish to a customer’s specific dietary needs, such as gluten free.
“Our customer is the most important thing, so if we need to modify a dish and we can, then we will do it,” Michael says.
Michael V’s Restaurant is open for lunch Mon.-Fri. 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and for dinner Mon.-Sat. beginning at 5 p.m.