It’s a common assumption that you can’t get a respectable meal in Catoosa, Oklahoma, but take a drive down historic Route 66 to the gem of Port City, and you’ll find Molly’s Landing. Nestled on the banks of the Verdigris River, this quaint log cabin is home to some of the best steak and seafood in the country, according to Southwest Airlines' in-flight magazine. Molly’s Landing can definitely hold its own against the big boys, such as Morton’s and The Chart House, and for a fraction of the cost.
Founded by a couple from Arizona, the main log cabin was completed in 1984. However, one moment in this kitsch lover’s paradise, and one can be certain this would have been a Route 66 roadside attraction if only it had opened a few decades earlier.
If not for the history on the first page of the menu, the restaurant could convincingly qualify as an old Dillinger hideout. The next several pages are devoted to affectionately introducing the patrons to Molly’s loyal staff, most of whom have been there for years, despite having other full-time careers.
As I enjoyed the smell of grilled meat and nostalgia (in the form of a pleasant mustiness), my waiter, Matthew, introduced himself. I learned from his bio that he had been at the restaurant for seven years. He proudly acknowledged that Molly’s famous filet mignon had paid his way through law school. Although he had a full-time job at a law firm during the week, his loyalty brought him back to Molly’s on the weekends.
Matthew was adamant that I try their famous filet, so I ordered the petite filet with a side of creamed spinach and grilled veggies. Initially, I hesitated to go with the "featured item"; so often it's a disappointment. It's as if the chef has made that item so many times that he's now just going through the motions, and it shows. However, when my filet came out it was apparent that the chef at Molly's was no less proud of my steak than he was of the first one he'd served years before. The filet was so succulent and tender it might as well have been a piece of red velvet wedding cake. I cut the steak with a fork.
As I sampled the creamed spinach, I was pleasantly surprised by their version of an old favorite. This was not your grandma's creamed spinach! It was loaded with crispy bits of bacon and flavorful mushrooms, simmered in a cream sauce for the gods. On the other side of my plate lay the fresh, crisp kabob of fire-grilled vegetables. The perfect mélange of bright purple onions, sweet green peppers, and red cherry tomatoes was slightly charred to infuse the taste of smoke and summertime. All this was topped off by a basket of Molly's homemade oat bran bread — as soft and warm as a marshmallow toasted in a campfire.
Although I was fast approaching my maximum capacity, Matthew insisted we try their "famous" bread pudding. Again with the "famous”! I was worried this perfect meal would be ruined by my compulsion to indulge in anything preceded by the word "famous." However, my gamble paid off. It was a royal flush of rum, butter, raisins, cinnamon, and bread. I had truly hit a culinary jackpot at Molly's Landing! The next time you're looking for the perfect trifecta of food, service, and ambiance, Molly's is a guaranteed winner.