Outing to Pawhuska’s Pioneer Woman Restaurant

Town Center residents made a trip to northern Oklahoma to the town of Pawhuska, spending the night in Bartlesville and touring scenic areas. If you watch the Food Network, you must be familiar with Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman, famous for her down home cooking and lots of it! Ree is an American blogger, author, food writer, chef, photographer and television personality who lives on a working ranch outside of Pawhuska, OK. Ree met her husband, Ladd, in Pawhuska. He owns a huge cattle ranch that goes on for hundreds of acres and they run the ranch with their four children. On the TV show, Ree prepares food for her family, friends, and all the ranch hands and takes large amounts of food out to the guys for lunch. You can see wild mustangs running across the rolling hills, several ponds, trees, wild flowers and of course hundreds of heads of cattle.

Ree has been writing cook books and doing the TV show for many years now and is known as “The Pioneer Woman”. She opened a restaurant in Pawhuska about 1 1/2 years ago and still the lines to get into the restaurant go around the block, and the wait is sometimes two to three hours. Her restaurant has helped the economy of Pawhuska with many new stores and vendors setting up shop in downtown Pawhuska. Ree is about to open a Bed and Breakfast called “The Boarding House”. We were able to see the lobby but none of the rooms or common areas. It hasn’t opened and is already booked ahead until the summer of 2019. Attached to the restaurant is the Mercantile which is a treasure trove of fun gifts and clothing to purchase. Ree has her own designs in dishes, kitchen ware, clothes, and household items that were sprinkled throughout the Mercantile.

Our wait in line to get into the restaurant was just under an hour so we were pretty fortunate to get a big table and order quickly. There is a diverse menu of comfort foods from macaroni and cheese to reuben sandwiches (made of beef of course), lasagna, the Marlboro Man sandwich (this is what she calls her extremely handsome husband), white chicken enchiladas, Teriyaki chicken with sesame noodles, homemade biscuits, beef stroganoff, and many delicious desserts. They added a bakery upstairs so you can just grab something from the counter and eat it there or take it to go. She has the most amazing cinnamon rolls and sticky buns. You can see large buses rolling into town every day and they say they are still serving about 6,000 people per day.

After lunch we drove out to the ranch where they also tape her TV shows. They live on the property a few miles from where Ree tapes her shows. We decided they must do many shows at a time because there are several large bedrooms, each with a full bath, a large living area, an enormous prep kitchen in the back of the house and the kitchen that is set up for Ree to do her cooking for each show. The crew from the Food Network comes for a few weeks and they tape several shows while living at the ranch house. It is stocked with every type of pot, pan, kitchen utensil and accessory in a large walk-in pantry.

After touring the ranch area, we drove to Bartlesville to spend the night at Price Towers, designed by Architect Frank Lloyd Wright. It is the only large structure in the state designed by Wright and in full operation as a hotel and museum. Phillips 66/Conoco and Shell got their start in this area where the first oil well was established in the late 1800’s. Oklahoma was the largest oil producer in the country for many years and is still in the top three. Bartlesville was a thriving town throughout the last century, being the center of Phillips 66. Wright designed and built Price Tower in 1956, the only known skyscraper by Wright and is one of only two vertically oriented Wright structures in the country. It has 19 stories and is 221 feet high and has 42,000 square feet. The Tower was commissioned by Harold C. Price of the H.C. Price company, a local oil pipeline and chemical firm, for use as a corporate headquarters for his company. Bruce Goff, famous architect and Dean of Architecture at the University of Oklahoma, recommended Wright to the Prices. Wright ended up designing homes for every member of the Price family there in Bartlesville. Wright nicknamed the Price Tower, “the tree that escaped the crowded forest,” referring not only to the building’s construction but also to the origins of its design.

Wright brings nature into all of his structures and it has been maintained to fit his vision. The four (tiny) elevators at the core of the building are like the trunk of a tree, as the hotel rooms are cantilevered from this central core, like the branches of a tree. The outside of the building is clad in patinated copper “leaves” which look like a turquoise green from the outside. The building and everything inside is asymmetrical where it looks different from every angle. The floor plan of the Price Tower centers upon an inlaid cast bronze plaque, bearing the logo of the Price Company, and marking the origin of a parallelogram grid upon which all exterior walls and built-in furniture are placed. The walls are cast concrete, the floors are pigmented concrete, aluminum windows and doors and embossed and distressed copper panels. There are decoration paintings inside the building that are solid gold, and a huge art panel in geometric shapes of turquoise, gold, bronze, and other elements. The building was sold to Phillips Petroleum in 1981 and in 2000, it was donated to the Price Tower Arts Center. There is a beautiful museum on the first floor displaying various types of art. The Copper Restaurant and Bar is open to the public and features a “Chef of the Year” who resides there for one year when the new winner takes over.

After spending the night, we proceeded to the “best breakfast diner in Bartlesville,” according to Wanda Bolen who lived there with her family for 50 years. We had a great breakfast and then drove up to the Kansas border to see the new “tall grasses” they have planted to rescue the Buffalo in our state. This grass was planted in the 1800’s by the Native Americans after the Five Civilized Tribes made the long, sad Trail of Tears, ousted from their homes by the government in Washington D.C. and sent to start over in what they called “Indian Territory,” which would become the state of Oklahoma in 1907. The tall grasses were taller than a man on horseback and the buffalo grew very large by eating these healthy grasses. After so many years of neglect, the grass was gone and the buffalo were getting smaller and dying off. The land has been taken over again by the Native Americans who have planted these grasses where herds of buffalo roam today!

What a fun overnight outing to parts of our state most of us had never seen. We all learned new things, ate a lot, and had good times together visiting and laughing!

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