Despite his lanky frame and rugged good looks, if you saw Jake Regier in his usual dark, well-tailored suit, you’d never guess he used to be a cowboy. He grew up on a sprawling ranch on the plains of western Kansas hard by the Colorado line, and Christmas Eve usually saw him out in the frigid winds by the waterholes, breaking the ice with a sledgehammer so the cattle could drink. But now here he is, early on Christmas Eve – a night when most of the city is on vacation – dapper in starched shirt and gleaming red tie, welcoming patrons to what’s perhaps the most elegant dining room in town.
“I like to be pretty hands-on,” he says, “and on big nights like this, I make sure I’m here. For the families here tonight, it may be the one meal of the year they remember, and everything has to be perfect.”
For Regier, the general manager, and for most Tulsans, the name “Mahogany” has a special, almost magical cachet. But few know where the name comes from. Back in 2000, Hal Smith – who has founded, nurtured, helmed and owned more restaurants than one can count – decided to create a restaurant a step above all his others.
“We had the location at 71st and Yale,” Smith explains, “and because I always considered Mahogany wood to be the best, and my favorite wood, we decided to call it Mahogany Prime Steakhouse.”
Diners now begin to stream in – a diverse crowd, but they have a few things in common. They are well-heeled, they expect perfection and they are here for the steak. Moving with the precision of ballet dancers and the grace that comes from years of experience, teams of wait staff sidestep the crowds and move to each table.
“They are the best, most dedi cated staff I’ve ever seen,” says Regier.
“I’m extremely proud of the team in place that makes Mahogany work,” Smith says.
If you’ve ever wondered how it feels to be royalty, Mahogany is the place to go. Poised, gracious and infinitely accommodating, the wait staff knows everything about steak, and they’re willing to spend as much time as it takes to make sure yours is perfect. One recent customer was terrified that his steak would be overcooked. His server brought out the steak as rare as possible for him to examine, and then returned it to the kitchen to be cooked 10 seconds more, repeating the process until it was cooked exactly as he wanted it. It took six trips and a lot of effort, but the customer had his perfect steak.
Once or twice a year, Brad Johnson, the chef at Mahogany, makes a trip to Chicago to visit a small, 60-year-old family butcher shop. It’s the one who supplies Mahogany’s steaks. Johnson vets the shop’s employees; only four or five of the most experienced are allowed to hand-cut the steaks, which are, needless to say, USDA Prime, aged for three weeks – the best.
Mahogany’s steaks are cooked in massive iron broilers that heat to 900 degrees. After cooking, the steaks are simply seasoned with kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper. They’re brushed with drawn butter, put on a hot platter and rushed to the table.
There’s always a hush when the steak arrives, redolent of sizzle and butter and gleaming like a carnal jewel.
Though it would be a crime to skip the steak, diners who want to vary their routines have several options: King crab legs, lobster, pork chops and an innovative daily fish special. And whatever you order, you shouldn’t miss what could be Tulsa’s best mac n’ cheese. It’s made with five cheeses: Grana Padano, Havarti, mascarpone, Irish cheddar and mozzarella. Ever the instructor, Regier picks a server at random and asks her to list the cheeses. And, of course, without a moment’s hesitation, she does. 6823 S. Yale Ave., Tulsa, with additional locations in Oklahoma City and Omaha, Neb. www.ehsrg.com/mahogany/home