There’s a lot to love about Bacon.
The restaurant, not the food. (Though I do love a nice slice of smoked pork belly. Who doesn’t?)
((People of the Jewish and Muslim faiths and vegetarians, most likely. Though I bet they’d enjoy it if there weren’t any religious/moral objections.))
And the thing I love most about Bacon-the-restaurant is, oddly, not the food at Bacon-the-restaurant (though I do love the food, as you’ll soon find out). The thing I love most about Bacon-the-restaurant is the look on people’s faces when you tell them there’s a restaurant in Oklahoma City named Bacon.
I don’t know much about joy or happiness, because those aren’t emotions people around me feel very often, but when you tell someone about Bacon-the-restaurant their faces start to glow. Try telling someone who doesn’t know about Bacon when you’re in the dark — it’s nature’s flashlight.
Bacon-the-restaurant was created by longtime Oklahoma City restaurateur Sean Cummings in the space where he created Land & Sea and the late, great and dearly missed Sean Cummings’ Irish Pub. It is next door to (and shares an entryway with) his lovely wife Cathy Cummings’ restaurant Vito’s Ristorante.
Why Bacon-the-restaurant, I asked Sean. Simple, he replied. It’s because of bacon-the-food.
“Every culture around the world has their own form of bacon, even if it isn’t pork,” he said. At first it was an idea he just played around with, but he soon became fascinated with all the different ways bacon can be made and incorporated into dishes.
A word about Sean Cummings: this guy knows how to cook. In fact, he probably knows how to cook a little too well for his own good, because he gets bored. And boredom isn’t something he can tolerate.
Which is to say, I suggest you get to Bacon-the-restaurant sooner than later. I don’t think he’s about to get bored with bacon-the-food or Bacon-the-restaurant anytime soon, but better safe than sorry.
Much as Little Mike’s Hamburgers on NW Expressway looks like your racist uncle’s email account threw up all over the walls, Bacon-the-restaurant’s decor is made up of every single bacon-themed picture and/or pun ever created. My personal favorite is the diagram of the pig in which every cut other than the pork belly is labeled “Not Bacon.”
It is also, I should point out, still pretty classy. The Cummingses aren’t restaurant neophytes. They know how to pretty up a dining room so that, amid the humorous bacon signage adorning the walls, diners can still enjoy an upscale evening out.
Not only is Bacon-the-restaurant not a place for vegetarians or vegans, it’s also emphatically not a place for people who cannot consume pork for religious reasons. Next door at Vito’s? Absolutely.
The name kind of spells it all out for you here.
If you’re only ordering one thing, you should get the Bacon Sampler ($12).
If you’re ordering one of everything, you should get two Bacon Samplers. For all the amazing food that came after, the dish that I went home raving about was the sampler. This is Sean’s around-the-world-with-bacon dish.
There was the praline bacon, which ought to be dessert. There’s Kentucky bacon sausage, which he described as an “Irish white pudding” but with more spice. The bacon jam is probably the most divisive of the sampler, because it is a spoonful of minced bacon that is texturally different from what most people think of as bacon, but with the taste of a bacon waterfall cascading down your tongue and overflowing your heart with childlike wonder.
Then there are the three bacon-y bacons: Jowl bacon, shoulder bacon and Irish bacon. The shoulder bacon was very hammy, and I mean that in a good way. Irish bacon is quite similar to Canadian bacon, except it can hold its liquor.
The star pupil, however, is the jowl bacon. It was like Sean reached into my brain and pulled out my platonic ideal of bacon. It was intensely fatty and perfectly crisp. Each bite was heaven. The balance between chewy and crunchy was marvelous and once it was in my mouth, it simply melted.
If jowl bacon was all Sean served, I’d still recommend Bacon-the-restaurant.
Does Bacon-the-restaurant serve salads? Yes. Did I try one? No.
Sean then brought out a bacon cheeseburger ($8) unlike any other bacon cheeseburger I’d had before. Made with a 50-50 mix of ground bacon and ground beef, it was by far the bacon-iest sandwich I’ve had since I made myself a BLT at home. (My version is Bacon, Lots of bacon and Tons of bacon. I do not expect to see 45 years old.)
It’s a tricky feat getting the bacon ground just right, Cummings said, but the result of doing it right is a tender burger with a seriously smoky taste. One minor quibble: bacon is pretty salty, so this is definitely for the salt lovers.
The smoked pork belly mac n’ cheese ($12) is a misnomer, because it doesn’t have macaroni (he uses trumpet-shaped noodles) and there are four cheeses.
I tell you folks, this dish was rich.
AUDIENCE: How rich was it?
I tell you, this mac n’ cheese was so rich it has definite opinions about the Estate Tax.
You damn kids with your standards.
Anyway, this might be a meal to share, because it will weigh you down like a delicious, cheesy anchor.
For a somehow lighter pasta dish, the chicken, bacon and spinach white lasagna ($14) was quite a treat. Chicken is really here more for heft and texture, because it’s hard to discern it between the smoky bacon and the creamy white sauce.
If you’re not full by this point, you’re lying. But way to put on a brave face before dessert. Yes, it also includes bacon.
The bacon cheesecake ($7) is a crowd-pleaser and plays like a creamier version of the praline bacon in the appetizer.
But the must-have dish is the bacon ice cream with caramel ($7). Yes, it sounds a little weird, but it’s so amazing, I could have gone from sampler to ice cream and been just fine.
If you’re REALLY lucky, however, Sean will have some of the sweet potato bacon ice cream he pulled out for me. I made the people at the table behind me try some to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating, because it was legitimately some of the best ice cream I’ve had in a long time.
I assume my face probably looked about as joyful as those people who heard Bacon-the-restaurant is a thing they can try for themselves. Just look in the mirror if you’re wondering what I mean.
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Bacon sampler - $12
Chicken, bacon and spinach white lasagna - $14
Bacon ice cream - $7