Kathleen’s Kitchen has been feeding Texoma diners since 1994, so you figure they must be doing something right. On another of these grim gray days that have plagued us for the past couple of weeks, I met a friend at Kathleen’s for lunch to remind me of why restaurants like this work.
It is a neat but noisy place when it is full; conversations bounce off the red and white tile floor and the slightly mismatched collection of tables and chairs. We arrived at about 1:15 p.m., when things had quieted down a bit. The waitress greeted my friend, who eats here a lot, found us a table, and left us with menus while she retrieved my water and his cup of tea. Little things mean a lot, and at Kathleen’s, the tea service consists of a cup of hot water and small basket of assorted tea bags. So you can pick your own brew.
Kathleen’s is a salad, soup and sandwich place with a difference. The breads and desserts come out of the kitchen next door, as do the salad fixings and sandwich spreads. You can take home the makings for future snacks if you feel like it. During the holiday season, the restaurant offers a special menu of take out dishes to enhance your table, and offers catering year round.
I had my usual egg salad sandwich on sourdough and a cup of potato soup. Both items are longtime favorites with longtime customers. Across the table, my friend decided on the newest entry on the hand-written “Specials” board — a smoked prime rib sandwich, and, oh, yes, a cup of tortilla soup. Two other items of special note to be on the look out for are the Waldorf chicken salad, and, when in season, the stawberry/spinach salad.
The potato soup is hot and creamy but still has small pieces of diced potato for texture. It is topped with a sprinkle of cheese, and when I crumble the piece of cornbread that comes alongside into the bowl, I am good to go. Give the egg salad a good shake or two of black pepper and I am set up for alternating bites of warm soup and cool sandwich. Both the potato soup and the egg salad are simple concoctions. There is nothing complicated about them at all; perhaps that is why they are so difficult to do well.
Across the table, my friend is into the soup and the smoked prime rib sandwich. It is like a French Dip cranked up a level. The prime rib is sliced thin, and the smoky flavor is evident but not overwhelming. The tortilla soup is another everyday favorite with diners.
True the premise of these efforts, we have left room for dessert. In my case, it is a bowl of Kathleen’s signature bread pudding with custard. It is smooth, with the slight bite of cinnamon, which holds its own with the custard topping. We also tried one of the winter desserts available, pumpkin layer cake. It is part cake, part pie, with whipped cream on top. Both desserts provide a nice finish to the lunch.
By the time we finish, the restaurant side of the business is closing. “Do you want us to leave?” my friend asked.
“No, take take your time,” the waitress said.
Little things mean a lot.