I like big buns and I cannot lie

I like big buns and I cannot lie

Let me cut to the chase. One of the main reasons people visit The Pioneer Woman Mercantile in Pawhuska, Okla., is to eat. Sure, there are colorful serving bowls to admire, plates to purchase, and recipe books to thumb through. But for me (and I suspect many others) the main draw is the food.

When my wife, Ann, our daughter, Meghan, and I visited The Merc a few weeks ago, we wanted to try rich, buttery, delicious foods from across the menu — but not for our own enjoyment. No, we made that sacrifice for you, our loyal readers. That’s just the selfless kind of people we are.

Meghan, Steve, and Ann on our first (we know we’ll be back) visit to The Pioneer Woman Mercantile.

Our first meal in Pawhuska was an early supper. Being travel bloggers conducting “official research,” we felt it best to start with drinks and an appetizer. We ordered fruit infused tea and lemonade and quickly gulped down the blackberry iced tea that was served in a Mason jar. They even make it with that good pellet ice.

The Pioneer Woman Mercantile sweet tea with raspberry

They will mix a real fruit puree into your sweet tea at The Merc. This glass had raspberry–and was cold and refreshing on a hot June day.

We’d heard good things about the queso dip while in line outside so we decided to give it a try. In all reality, it gave me mixed emotions. On the one hand, I absolutely loved the spicy, creamy cheese dip served piping hot in a mini cast iron skillet with just the right amount of crispiness on the top of the cheese. On the other, I can’t get it anywhere else so I’m left to savor it in my memory and look forward to the day when we return to Pawhuska. Seriously, it is the kind of dip you just want to eat with a spoon.

The Pioneer Woman queso dip was amazing, especially with the toasted cheese on top.

After our appetizer, our main courses arrived. Ann was tempted by the chicken parmesan, but since we were in cattle country, she opted for the popular Marlboro Man sandwich. A beef and onion sandwich with lots of tangy flavor, it is served on a hoagie roll and comes with a side of crispy homemade potato chips.

The Pioneer Woman Mercantile marlboro man sandwich

The Marlboro Man sandwich is served with a couple of little pickles and homemade potato chips.

Meghan chose the PW lasagna. It was a huge portion of ground beef with fresh herbs, tomato sauce, lasagna noodles, and the amount of cheesy goodness you’d expect from Ree Drummond’s kitchen.

The Pioneer Woman Mercantile lasagna

Our daughter, Meghan, enjoyed the PW lasagna.

I had the chicken fried steak. This was an actual ribeye steak, fork-tender, thinly sliced, breaded and fried to a crispy golden brown. Served with mashed potatoes, the whole dish was covered in a creamy country gravy that nearly overflowed the plate. Hands down, this was the best chicken fried steak I’ve ever had. And trust me, I’ve had a lot of chicken fried steaks. If you go to The Mercantile, someone in your group you should order this.

PW Mercantile Country Fried Steak

The chicken fried steak at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile tastes even better than it looks!

While we’d ordered plenty of food to eat with just our meal, in the interest of our “research” we felt it best to order a couple of the sides, as well. Ann makes a great twice-baked potato and we wanted to see how hers stacked up against the potato at The Merc. In all honesty, the potato in the deli had great flavor and was well-prepared, but I have to say, I still like Ann’s better. We also tried a side order of mac & cheese. This bowl of cheesy awesomeness certainly satisfied and is the perfect dish for anyone craving carbs. And who doesn’t crave carbs?

The Pioneer Woman Mercantile mac and cheese

The mac and cheese tasted as rich and creamy as it looks.

The next morning, we headed back to The Mercantile. Having had a sit-down meal in the deli the night before, we skipped the full breakfast menu and opted to head upstairs to the bakery for coffee and a pastry.

The Pioneer Woman Mercantile bakery seating area

There is a large seating area upstairs in the bakery at The Merc.

Once there, we purposefully avoided looking for any calorie content information and focused our attention instead on the vast variety of baked goods in the case. Meghan had a cream cheese something-or-other that she absolutely loved. Ann ordered a maple nut scone, and I had the cinnamon rolls (which are served in a single-use metal pan). Typing this post is honestly a little difficult because it makes me remember all the sweet goodness from those rolls. Those warm, gooey, bites of deliciousness … back to my post.

The Pioneer Woman Mercantile cream cheese danish

Meghan ordered the cream cheese pastry at the bakery.

The Pioneer Woman Mercantile maple scone

Ann said the maple nut scone was delicious.

It’s worth noting that when you order something in the bakery, should you want, they will heat it up for you. Trust me, you want.  While most places would toss your rolls into a microwave, in The Pioneer Woman’s bakery, they pay attention to details and heat the pastries in an oven using a mini cast iron skillet and conventional heat. This way, you have cinnamon rolls that are not just warm and gooey, but also have a crispy, caramelized sugar edge all the way around them. I promise, you’ll daydream about these cinnamon rolls for weeks.

The Pioneer Woman cinnamon rolls which were absolutely drowning in frosting. Yum!

We all ordered the signature cowboy coffee, which is served “shot in the dark” style, infused with Sasparillia and topped with frothed milk. A strong coffee, Ann absolutely loved it and has said that if we lived in Pawhuska, she’d be in line every morning for a cup. That would be fine with me as I would then be able to justify a daily order of cinnamon rolls. Seriously, I just can’t stop dreaming about them.

Ann especially enjoyed this coffee that was infused with Sasparilla and topped with frothed milk.

Now completely full and feeling a sugar high coming on, we agreed to resist the temptation for more. Then, about five seconds later, we reminded ourselves that we had a responsibility to our readers, so we did get an order of pecan sticky rolls to go, a recipe we’d seen Ree make on her show the night before. On the show she’d said that those sticky rolls are Ladd’s favorite. After trying them, I know why. I’m not sure exactly what kind of delicious magic Ree has them mix in to the caramel and pecan goo on top, though I suspect it might be pure butter and sugar.

The Pioneer Woman Mercantile Sticky Bun

The Pioneer Woman knows how to bake, and this pecan sticky bun proves it.

Also upstairs on the second floor is an adorable candy section with lots of old-fashioned sweet treats you can purchase.  While my eyes went right to the sugary sweets, Ann said she loved the crisp, white subway tile and the beautiful light fixtures. Go figure.

The Pioneer Woman Mercantile candy selection

There is a large variety of candies for sale in the bakery at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile.

The Pioneer Woman Mercantile taffy

You can also buy chicken and waffle flavored taffy at The Merc.

Just beyond the candy shop, we wandered past the counter and walked down a short hallway to look at the kitchen where all the baking witchcraft happens. Peering through the windows, we watched a worker drizzle about a gallon of white chocolate on a pan of thick Rice Krispie treats. We also saw huge mixers churning away on dough for some other wonderful treat. If you’re in The Merc, take a minute and go watch. It’s an impressive operation and the workers look like they truly care about what they are doing.

The Pioneer Woman Mercantile bakery kitchen

You are welcome to watch bakers practice their trade in the kitchen upstairs.

We left to go tour the lodge where the shows are filmed, and returned to The Mercantile in time for lunch. Seeing a long line for seating in the deli, we chose to go inside to the Grab & Go counter – a great option if you’re in a hurry as there was virtually no wait.

The Grab & Go menu at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile included slow braised beef pot roast and comfort meatballs.

Because we were heading out from Pawhuska that day, we chose meals that we could take with us in the cooler in the car. I had the turkey sandwich meal, while Ann and Meghan had Asian steak salads. I know you think that all turkey sandwiches are created equal, but that isn’t true. This one was excellent as it actually had an appropriate amount (lots) of turkey piled on it – far more than on any other turkey sandwich I’ve had that was made anywhere outside of my kitchen. Ann and Meghan liked their salads, which were made with a variety of fresh greens and Asian flavored dressing. The steak on the salad looked to be perfectly prepared, as well.

The Pioneer Woman Mercantile Asian steak salad

The Asian steak salad was available at the Grab & Go counter.

If you aren’t taking your meal with you down the road like we did, there are some hot options on the Grab & Go menu, and tables and chairs right outside The Merc where you can sit and eat. Offerings the day we were there included a hot meatball dinner, pot roast, and chicken spaghetti. Sorry, we weren’t able to snag a photo of the spaghetti but it did look amazing.

The Pioneer Woman Mercantile meatball dinner

Comfort meatballs was one of the options at the Grab & Go counter.

The Pioneer Woman Mercantile pot roast and tuna salad sandwich

The pot roast dinner and tuna salad sandwich were a couple of the wonderful looking options on the Grab & Go menu.

If you go to The Pioneer Woman Mercantile, come hungry and plan to eat as many meals there as you can.  The menu [CLICK HERE] is loaded with delectible dishes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner — and don’t forget to grab something for the road.


Have you been to The Pioneer Woman Mercantile in Pawhuska? What items on the menu did you enjoy most? 

As always, thanks for sharing!

Six reasons to take your wife to The Pioneer Woman Mercantile

Six reasons to take your wife to The Pioneer Woman Mercantile

I had my doubts when Ann told me she wanted to visit The Pioneer Woman Mercantile in Pawhuska, Okla. For me, I couldn’t see how this would be time well spent. I envisioned a crowded store with mostly middle-aged women roaming around, oohing and aaahing at spatulas and cast iron skillets with the same starry eyes that middle school girls have at a Justin Bieber concert. As it turns out, I was not wrong.

A view of The Pioneer Woman Mercantile from the staircase leading up to the second floor.

But men, listen up, here are six good reasons why you should go:

1. Real butter.

Cinnamon rolls, pecan sticky buns, blondie bars, and cookies, all made with real butter. Just go to the bakery and settle in. You can thank me when you wake up from your carb-induced food coma.

The Pioneer Woman Mercantile Sticky Bun

The Pioneer Woman knows how to bake, and this pecan sticky bun proves it.

 2. Happy wife, happy life.

Let’s be honest for a minute, guys. Our wives do some great things for us and visiting The Merc (as Ree calls it) gives us a chance to do something nice for them. When we visited, we hoped to enjoy an early supper there. We pulled up and found a line stretching about 3/4 of the way up the block. I told Ann that she could go inside and have fun looking around the store and I’d stand outside in the line for a table in the deli. She took me up on it, and so I stood there for nearly two hours, gaining quiet hero status among my wife and the dozens of other women who comprised 88% of the people in line.

And the best part? At the end of my wait, I sat down to a tall glass of blackberry tea and a plate of Ree’s chicken fried steak. It was a fork-tender, thinly sliced ribeye, breaded and fried to perfection, served with a side of delicious mashed potatoes, all smothered in creamy country gravy. I ask you, who came out the winner on this one?

PW Mercantile Country Fried Steak

The chicken fried steak at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile tastes even better than it looks!

3. You’ll feel truly welcome.

We pulled up in Pawhuska about 3:10 p.m. on a sunny, Oklahoma day in June. About two minutes after pulling my hero routine and telling Ann to go inside while I waited, I began to regret that decision as the sun relentlessly beat down on me and my bald spot. But then a nice young lady named Meg came along and offered me an umbrella and a bottle of water.

Steve visiting with Meg Kane while waiting in line at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile.

And I stood, out of the worst of the sun, thirst quenched, chatting with others who were waiting, and had a really pleasant afternoon. All of this made me wonder, ‘What business does this sort of thing?’ This was not normal. It was far better than that — it was humanizing. The Drummonds actually care about the people who come to their store, and that’s pretty special.

PW Mercantile greeter

We asked this greeter if she were there to open the door if it got windy. She said, “No. I’m here because Ree and Ladd want people to feel welcome.”


PIN FOR LATER

 


On the show, the Drummonds appear to be fairly normal and down-to-earth people that you think you’d probably like to get to know. While we didn’t have the chance to meet them, after visiting Pawhuska I’m convinced it is not just an act you see on TV. People in line told us they’d seen Ladd come out of his office which is upstairs near the bakery (lucky man). They said he doesn’t use a secret door. Instead, he walks up and down the stairs like everyone else, chatting with people and stopping to pose for pictures along the way.

Corinne Nuss and her twin sister, Connie Scism met Ladd Drummond at The Mercantile on their visit to Pawhuska this summer.

4. The prices won’t break the bank.

In creating The Merc, the Drummonds created a business to which hundreds of people flock daily. They could charge whatever ridiculous amount they wanted for the food and merchandise. And visitors would pay. In fact, this is what I expected — after all it happens nearly everywhere we go these days. But that was before I realized they believe their customers are people.

The Pioneer Woman Mercantile Merchandise

The merchandise at the PW Mercantile is reasonably priced.

The prices are completely reasonable. Ann, Meghan, and I each had dinner, some extra sides, and a bottomless glass of the best iced tea any of us had ever had for $64. Likewise, we picked up a few new things from The Merc that were also in line with pricing we see in other kitchen stores. It was obvious to us they are in this to share with their fans, not take advantage.

5. Charmin in the bathrooms.

They have Charmin toilet paper in the bathroom. Real Charmin. I could go into details on why that’s a good thing, but I think we all know.

The Pioneer Woman Mercantile toilet paper

When was the last time you saw Charmin in a public restroom?

6. You’ll love the food.

Chances are, if your wife wants to visit The Merc you are already an unknowing fan of Ree Drummond’s. More than once I’ve complimented Ann on a delicious dish, only to find out that it came from one of our Pioneer Woman cookbooks. Spicy queso dip, warm tomato soup with parmesan crisps, chicken enchilasagna, and pan fried pork chops are some of Ree’s dishes. Yum.

The Pioneer Woman queso dip was amazing, especially with the charred cheese on top.

And, because of Ree Drummond, we always use real butter, and we always grate fresh cheese. Men, this is something you want to cultivate. Ree can flat out cook, and everyone, (women and men) can learn something from her.

I’m sure I’ll likely return to Pawhuska someday. In fact, just writing this blog post reminds me of those cinnamon rolls and makes me want to get in the car right now. I guess what I want to say is, men, if your wife says she wants to go to Pawhuska, don’t be afraid. Trust me — pack some loose-fitting pants and go!

As always, thanks for sharing (especially with the men you know and love)!