The New Wolfgang Puck on Brookside

By on July 28, 2010

Wolfgang Puck, like Dior and Armani, is one of those names that seeps into your subconscious without your being quite aware of it. You know little or nothing about the man, but the very sound drips glamour. Wolfgang Puck, the man, is worth knowing about. Born in Austria, he worked with some of the world’s top chefs in Paris. Moving to Los Angeles, he became a major player in the culinary revolution that swept California in the early ’80s, along with Alice Waters and Jonathan Waxman. He melded his classic French training with the homegrown simplicity of California cuisine. He also revolutionized restaurant design. Before he opened Spago in Los Angeles, a top restaurant had Louis XV furniture, was as hushed as a temple, with menus all in French. But Spago was brash and brassy, warm and welcoming though very exclusive. ”It should always feel like a party in the restaurant,” said Wofgang Puck’s wife, and it did .You could come in jeans. Menus were simple. The food was outstanding. Now Wolfgang Puck has opened a restaurant in Tulsa.

Walk through the heavy blond wood door of Wolfgang Puck Bistro in Brookside and you’ll feel the shock of the new. There are Wolfgang Puck restaurants in other cities, but the Tulsa design is different, and a lot of thought has been put into it. There’s a buzz to the place. You feel excited. You wonder if you should have worn a better tie. The decor is stark and modern, with sunlight streaming in huge plate glass windows, but it’s sleek and elegant too. The staff works in harmony like a great well-oiled machine. Hostesses in designer dresses, headwaiters in slick black suits, platoons of waiters in dark grey shirts and ties, all have a level of training and professionalism rare to find outside New York.

The dining room is quiet, restrained and reeks of luxury.

The kitchen is open and right next door so you can watch the chefs at work. But we preferred to eat at a table near the bar. It was only 5 PM — a good time to go if you haven’t made a reservation and want to have a hope of scoring a table — and the bar was packed. The menu features some of Puck’s most famous dishes and a few designed just for Tulsa. It is surprisingly affordable. Big plates of pasta run between $9 and $11. Wolfgang Puck is for some reason known for wildly extravagant pizzas, and you can sample those for about the same price, though some with exotic ingredients run higher. But we focused on the entrees, big full-blown plates that can be yours for between $12 and $16. Any restaurant in New York, or Utica Square for that matter, would charge twice that price for entrees.
As we waited for our entrees, the chef sent out an amuse-bouche.

A sprightly cup of gazpacho, and true to the name it amused our mouths. “I’m excited!” I said. I’d been saying that since we walked through that blond wood door. And then came the entrees and the excitement paid off.
Before Wolfgang Puck was a great restauranteur, he was a great chef. New York Times critic Ruth Reichl once wrote that some of the dishes he prepared were among the best things she has eaten in her life. All our entrees proved this true. They looked deceptively simple but were perfectly prepared using the finest (and whenever possible local) ingredients. They sang in my mouth. Here’s what I got:

Pan Seared Filet of Sole with lemons, capers, almonds and raisins ($16). The sole is actually prepared a la meuniere, lightly coated in flour, pan-fried, this classic presentation enhanced by the capers and raisins and hints of citrus. The fish, thicker than the sole I’m used to, was perfectly cooked, flavorful, just incredibly good. It’s not easy to do a la meuniere just right, but the chefs here have talent and flair.
One of my friends got Viennese Beef Goulash ($14). This is, so the story goes, prepared according to Wolfgang Puck’s mother’s recipe. And it looks like plain, hearty comfort food.

But it’s more than that. It’s so hard to find stewed or slow-cooked beef that isn’t tough and stringy. These beef cubes were so tender I ate mine with a spoon. The rich spicy flavor of the sauce permeated the meat. I was hoping my friend would leave a lot over but sadly she ate just about all of it. I’ll have to order this next time.
Betty got the salmon ($16)

Roasted Atlantic Salmon Filet with Tomato and Fennel. A fine thick piece of salmon, it was cooked to a perfect medium-rare, and it had a nice citrusy zing to it.
All too soon we’d finished. “This is the best meal I’ve eaten in a LONG time!” Cathe said. Yeah.
Wolfgang Puck Bistro
3330 S. Peoria
292-8585
dinner starts 5 PM every day, reservations recommended
Click HERE for the Menu
Wolfgang Puck Bistro - Tulsa on Urbanspoon

About Brian Schwartz:

Born in NYC, age 0, on my birthday. College in Oxford at age 16. Law School in New Haven, Conn. 6 years travel in Africa and Asia. Haven’t done much lately. Still, I’m the only Tulsa member of the little-known Omega Society.  www.theomegasociety.com

I speak enough Chinese to order food not on any English menu. Spanish French Italian too (not fluently but food-ently) My favorite restaurant is Jean-Georges in New York. But those NYC chefs would sell their soul to get the produce available from the farms around Inola.

“A writer writes alone. His words tumble forth from a magical inner void that is mysterious even to himself, and that no one else can enter.” And yet, the most important thing to me the writer is YOU. Without you to hear them, my words are worth less than silence.

Brian Schwartz

About Brian Schwartz

Born in NYC, age 0, on my birthday. College in Oxford at age 16. Law School in New Haven, Conn. 6 years travel in Africa and Asia. Haven’t done much lately. Still, I’m the only Tulsa member of the little-known Omega Society. www.theomegasociety.com I speak enough Chinese to order food not on any English menu. Spanish French Italian too (not fluently but food-ently) My favorite restaurant is Jean-Georges in New York. But those NYC chefs would sell their soul to get the produce available from the farms around Inola. “A writer writes alone. His words tumble forth from a magical inner void that is mysterious even to himself, and that no one else can enter.” And yet, the most important thing to me the writer is YOU. Without you to hear them, my words are worth less than silence.

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