The last time I ate at an indoor restaurant was March 14, 2020, at a Culver’s east of St. Louis. Over a year had gone by since then – weekly takeout orders, efforts to eat local, learning to actually cook for ourselves, occasionally eating on a patio if the weather permitted – and finally, by late April 2021 I joined Elizabeth in being fully vaccinated. To celebrate, and to make sure Scipio had a chance to meet a new dogsitter, we decided to take a one-night trip to OKC on Thursday, April 22. We’d make a full thing of it – dinner at a fancy restaurant downtown, stay in one of the high-rise hotels, brunch the next morning. Elizabeth was in charge of choosing the hotel, and after searching through several websites and comparison shopping, she settled on the Wyndham Grand downtown. I was in charge of the dinner reservation, and crowdsourced by decision:

I trusted the crowdsourcing and went with Ludivine in midtown. Next up, we booked an overnight dogsitting appointment with Lauren. We brought Scipio to meet Lauren a few days before and he loved both her and her backyard. With that taken care of, all that was left to do was wait.

The day arrived, and while I attended virtual classes from home, Elizabeth went to get her hair cut. The appointment went long, so even though I had fairly neatly packed Scipio’s stuff, we were still a whirling dervish of things being thrown into Elizabeth’s car so that we could make it to our dogsitting appointment on time. After getting there on time, Scipio was thrilled to discover the Lauren was watching another little yappy dog, Batman. The two of them yapped so thoroughly that he didn’t even notice us leaving.

After a small parking snafu downtown, we managed to get ourselves check into the Wyndham Grand. I flopped down in bed. No dog, no responsibility for a couple of hours. What to do? We pulled up Netflix on the room TV and watched a dumb chick flick until it was time to get ready for dinner. I put on my suit and a nice tie, and Elizabeth got changed into her dress. I went and fetched the car, and we were going out to a fancy dinner.

Ludivine was only a short drive from our hotel, up by the OKC memorial. The restaurant was neatly segmented for covid safety protocols, with our section pretty secluded from others. Removing my mask in a public place proved to be a lot less weird than I thought it would. We each ordered a fun drink – Elizabeth’s had green chili vodka, and tasted like a hatch chili. Mine was a mixture of a lot of things that tasted like an excellent sour beer.

The menu is a chef’s choice menu, but we came prepared. I wanted to get a charcuterie for our appetizer. This one was mind-blowing.

Pickled veggies (including shallots!), ham, pate, cheese, marmalade, toast, and a tasty sharp mustard – it was to die for. Easily the best charcuterie of my life. It also kept us occupied all the way until our entrees were ready – and somehow, my entree even topped what I’d been expecting. Elizabeth got the wagyu, and was slightly underwhelmed. But my braised lamb shank was simply incredible.

I literally ate it down to the bone. I did not know a meal could be worth $150, but I had and still have no regrets.

We asked for a dessert menu, but as it turned out they didn’t have much stuff left. Elizabeth originally went to order the creme brulee, but then remembered that I don’t like that. Instead, the waitress told us to check out Waffle Champion, halfway back to our car. It turned out to be the best advice we’d gotten all night.

I had a few bites, then realized Elizabeth was going to finish that waffle off on her own, so I backed off to let her do so. A legendary nightcap.

We headed back to the hotel and finished our silly movie. I didn’t really mean to fall asleep as early as I did, but with no dog in a king-sized bed I could finally sprawl out without worrying about tiny limbs being crushed. And snooze I did.

Elizabeth and I got up way earlier than we probably anticipated, too. Instead of brunch, it was going to be more like breakfast. We found another good-looking restaurant in mid-town, Hatch. This time, Elizabeth was paying, so I didn’t hold back. Brunch started off with mimosas. We ordered little hash brown balls that had been fried with bacon and cheese and were held together by hollandaise, which were yes.

Then we got Hatch’s famous pancake flights.

These pancakes basically put me in a food coma. I could barely leave the restaurant, I was so content. We still had a little bit of time to kill, so Elizabeth did some shopping at Quail Springs for graduation clothes. Then we headed back to Norman to pick up Scipio, who had apparently had a blast over the last 24 hours with Lauren and Batman.

A simple getaway? Yes. Exactly what we needed? Yes.

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