SwampHouse, 1529 E. 3rd St., opened in May in Studio Row, one of Tulsa’s up-and-coming neighborhoods located near 3rd Street and Trenton Avenue. The restaurant and music venue, which sits across the street from the historic Church Studio, features live music Thursday through Saturday nights.
The restaurant exterior is reminiscent of a southern-style home with a wrap-around covered front porch. The main entrance door is surprisingly nondescript, located on the building’s east side with no signage above the door. But don’t be afraid, it is, in fact, the entrance.
The indoor dining room is a fair size and includes a medium-sized, welcoming bar with table seating.
My party arrived at 6:30 p.m. on a Saturday, and we sat outside on the screened-in porch. We were hesitant, at first, to choose the porch, but the misters pulled us in. Though it was quite muggy to begin with, our waitress said that once the sun goes down, the porch becomes exceptionally pleasant. It seems that everyone knew that, because the outside area completely filled up an hour or so later, and the early heat turned into a mild, very pleasant evening, except for the flies.
Around 7 p.m., a three-piece band began playing indoors, and the garage door that separates the outdoor patio and the indoor dining room opened soon after to bring the whole restaurant together.
We started our meal with the battered and deep fried gator bites, with swamp sauce — a housemade cream sauce that paired well with the breaded gator. The bites were “chewier than chicken,” as my friend noted, but still tasty. Although, I will add, most things taste good when they’re fried. The bites came on a bed of fries. The fries also paired well dipped in the swamp sauce.
For my entree, I chose the catfish, with the option of fried, grilled or blackened. When my dish was delivered, the food server raved about it, saying it was his favorite dish. After eating it, his comment does not surprise me one bit.
I chose to have my fish blackened, and the spice and seasoning were perfect. The fish came on a bed of red beans and rice with a side of hush puppies and a slice of perfectly-ripe watermelon. The fish was delectably tender, and the beans and rice were the perfect compliment.
My friend chose the shrimp and grits – five blackened shrimp served on top of “cheezy green chile grits” plus a side salad. The grits were creamy with a number of green chiles that made them more than just some spicy mashed potatoes. The grits had a nice level of spice that added to the flavor but weren’t too much. The shrimp were tender and blackened well.
SwampHouse is open Tuesday through Sunday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. To learn more, visit swamphousetulsa.com.