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Archive for February, 2022

Food Friday: The Hive

So I mentioned in my review of The Bookmark Cafe that my daughter, Mae, worked here on her first semester at OU. The Hive is a small cafe in a larger complex called Cross Village. In this same building is Acre Provisions, a grocery store just for college kids, and Basic Knead, a walk-up restaurant that serves pizza and pasta. All 3 spaces run together on the ground floor with apartment-like dorm rooms above.

The Hive is set up the same way The Bookmark Cafe is- they serve different coffee drinks along with light snacks. There is plenty of space to sit, not only indoors but in the outdoors area as well. They are also in Starbucks “We Proudly Serve” program, so you will get drinks like you find at Starbucks. You will also find students working here as well. All of the times we stopped by in the fall of 2021, we had great service and the drinks were always good. I will also give them 5 strips of bacon. They are located south of Lindsay Street on Asp in the Cross Village complex (southeast of the towers). Can’t really see it from the road, if you find Acre Provisions, it’s around the corner.

Now a bit of the history behind The Hive- Cross Village was opened in the fall of 2018. It was a new concept at OU, the dorm apartments were on the top floors while the ground level was just for restaurants, shops, and other businesses. This was originally to cater to upper-class students at OU. Cross Village is further south of the well-known dorm buildings Walker, Adams, and Couch, so the older students weren’t as close to the younger freshmen. Cross Village took the place of the original Cross Center, “The Men’s Quadrangle” dormitory built in 1952. Cross Center had fallen into disrepair and was mostly used as storage, so then a plan was developed in 2016 to replace the older buildings. Cross Village was supposed to be a public-private collaboration but by the end of the first full school year there were clear problems. Cross Village never filled to full occupancy with only 30 percent of the units rented out to students. With a legal dispute now on the horizon, all restaurants and shops were closed on July 30, 2019. Over the next two school years, there was plenty of legal wrangling and by May 2021 a new entity stepped up to help the university run Cross Village. To get the occupancy up, freshmen were now allowed to move into the new complex. After a two-year absence, all restaurants and shops were able to reopen. The Hive has stayed busy throughout this time, catering to students who live on campus. (If you want a full run down on all the legal and financial information, just Google it. I could write a book with all that went down in the building of Cross Village.)

Food Friday: The Bookmark Cafe

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you would know that my contributing writer Mae has been absent. Well, she had to get through a rigorous high school schedule and now that she has graduated (PC Pirate class of ’21) she is studying at the great University of Oklahoma (proud 3rd generation Sooner). To help pay for this new adventure in education, she is working for food services as a barista. Her first semester she spent at The Hive, a coffee shop on south campus (more on it in another post) but now she is at The Bookmark Cafe in the first lower level of Bizzell Memorial Library.

This is just a small coffee shop, very similar to the ones you see in bookstores, where they have coffee, lattes, frappuccinos, along with light sandwiches and pastries. Last Sunday was my first visit and I was impressed, the space that had once been where the newspapers and magazines were kept was transformed into a study lounge with separate rooms for groups. Bookmark Cafe has a large area with tables and booths for group or individual study. They are part of Starbucks “We Proudly Serve” program, where they do serve up the same drinks that you can find at a Starbucks. Many of the pastries are cooked on site with the salads and sandwiches coming from Cow On the Fly. I didn’t get a chance to try any of the food yet, because of the snowstorm the previous week, the food delivery hadn’t come in yet. The double chocolate chip frappuccino that I had was awesome though. The staff is all students, they were all friendly and happy to be at Bookmark.

Now for some history- there was nothing like this when I was a student at OU in the early 1990’s (BA in Journalism, ’94). The coffee shop craze hadn’t hit Oklahoma yet. I guess there were some around but to me, coffee was just something that my grandparents drank. I had never heard of a frappuchino, latte, or macchiato. Bizzell Memorial Library was built in 1928 for the growing university and expanded, first in 1958, then again in 1982. Lower level 1 is part of the 1982 addition. Like I mentioned earlier, it held the periodicals. I used to sit at the microfilm readers and journey through the past with their newspaper collection. The Bookmark Cafe officially opened for the spring semester 1998 to give students a quiet place to study. The official grand opening was held on February 11, 1998 (I didn’t know this information until Wednesday of this week as I was researching, so the fact I’m publishing this on the same date 24 years later is just a coincidence). In August of 2013 construction began to transform the space into the study area it is now, Bookmark Cafe was temporarily moved but returned to its now larger location in September 2014 with a ceremony held on November 7, 2014, to mark the reopening of the lower level. In March 2020, it closed, not to reopen until January 2022.

Overall I will give them 5 strips of bacon, just for the fact that my child works there, but I would like to try more of their menu items. Project for the rest of the semester. So if you find yourself in Norman and near campus, stop into the historic library and grab a treat.

Food Friday: Eskimo Joe’s

There are a lot of places I’ve gone that are tourist traps, many fall flat and don’t live up to the hype. Being the good Sooner, I always felt that way about Eskimo Joe’s. Just a place for OSU fans to go, and it can’t be that good or it wouldn’t be in Stillwater. I started to change my mind about it in 2018, when Mae’s band stopped there for lunch before contest. Since we were both nervous, we just got Little Joe burgers with no sides. No, we didn’t try the cheese fries or anything else but we did come home with a couple cups to remind us of the trip. For the years since that trip I think about making a real visit but never had the chance. Last weekend I had research to do in Stillwater, so lunch at Eskimo Joe’s became a priority.

I’m lucky we decided to go earlier than noon, at 11:22a that place was already packed with a 40-minute wait time. This is probably why they have a store next door, so you can shop while waiting for a table. So while we wandered through the colorful shirts, we patiently waited for a text telling me they were ready. After a little over 30 minutes, I got the text and upstairs to our table we went. This time I was getting the world-famous cheese fries, topped with sweet peppered bacon of course. I now understand why this is one of their most popular items, they were so good. The fries were perfect, covered with a generous amount of cheese, topped with a mound of bacon. This is a must order if you go. I might try them other ways on a next visit but even if you get just the plain, it’s worth it.

Next up were our burgers, I chose to order the sweet peppered bacon and cheddar while my husband got a fire burger. This burger was one of the best I’ve eaten in many years. Juicy, well flavored meat, soft bun, and that bacon. If you are a bacon connoisseur like me, I highly recommend the sweet peppered bacon. It is the true definition of meat candy. Cooked perfectly, not too crisp or limp, covered in brown sugar with just a touch of pepper. This was true culinary heaven. My husband loved his fire burger, said it had good heat to it without being overpowered. He did add the sweet peppered bacon to his burger as well and totally agreed that this was the best bacon. We were too stuffed for dessert, so back down to the store to actually buy some shirts (once again being the good Sooner I couldn’t have one that said Stillwater or OSU, so I got one with the dog).

Eskimo Joe’s really lived up to the hype and then some. Even though it’s in Stillwater (and I could see the campus for little brother), I’m ready to go again. Full warning, give yourself plenty of time since there will be a wait. The service was excellent, even with me in my finest crimson and cream, everyone was nice and friendly. Didn’t wait long for any of the food to come out, so that’s a big plus. Overall I will definitely give them 5 strips of bacon, especially if its the sweet peppered bacon. Their food is worth the drive and wait, trust me.

A bit of the history, Eskimo Joe’s opened in 1975 as a bar. That’s the old stone building at the east end of the complex. They added food to the menu in 1984 when the drinking age was raised in Oklahoma, including the famous cheese fries, which got an endorsement from President George Bush, Sr. The building has been added onto and remodeled several times, adding a huge store to the west end.

Address: 507 W. Elm St., Stillwater.

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