The New Smoke Woodfire Grill & Cigar Room on Cherry Street

By on December 29, 2010

It’s been a fine year for fine dining. Never in the history of Tulsa have as many world-class restaurants opened as during 2010. Wolfgang Puck, The Kitchen, and Doc’s Wine Bar on Brookside. Blue Dome, Trula and Yokozuna downtown. Boston Deli’s chalkboard specials down south. We now have truly authentic Peruvian, Venezuelan, Malaysian and southern Indian food. Up north, there’s A-1′s stellar fried chicken and Buffalo’s BBQ. And now, appearing suddenly and as if by magic to claim its spot as one of Tulsa’s best, there’s Smoke.

You won’t have read about Smoke in the newspapers. There’s been nary a word. Try Urbanspoon, try Yelp, try Google… you won’t find it. One day last week, walking to lunch at Lucky’s, I noticed something going on in the old abandoned Bourbon St. Cafe space next door. Workers scurrying around, people on ladders hoisting up a big neon sign. They told me it would open next Tuesday. I was sure that couldn’t happen, but they must have used magic, because when I showed up Tuesday night, I walked through the unlocked doors to find this.

The glow in back is coming from the kitchen. You can stand by the arches and watch the chefs at work. It was opening night, so I expected barely controlled chaos, but when I looked through the arch, I saw master chef Erik Reynolds running the kitchen like the veteran he is. He was chef at 34th St. Catering in Austin and lots of top restaurants in Texas and Colorado before that. I’ve heard he plans to feature local produce when possible and offer a menu that will change weekly, sometimes daily if they get a great deal at the farmers’ market. But the place is just getting started, so last night only a few choices were available. I ordered hanger steak with bacon-Tabasco butter ($16). Hanger steak is a rare cut of beef taken from the steer’s diaphragm. Cookbooks will tell you it’s “prized for its flavor”. I’d never seen it in Tulsa. Until this was set before me:

It just couldn’t be better. Cooked very rare exactly as I had requested, and redolent of the smoke from the wood-burning grill, the beef lived up to hanger steak’s reputation. The butter accented the meat’s unctuous creamy texture and flavor. The smoky grilled onion, the avocado, and the arugula salad with a lovely vinegar dressing (just like my mom’s watercress salad!) were nice foils for the steak’s glory.

My friends split an order of salmon ($24).

A simple piece of salmon (more elaborate preparations with lovely sauces will be available in the days to come) but, thanks to the spices rubbed on top and the fine quality of the fish, it was glorious. Some of the best salmon I’ve ever had.

We skipped dessert. Before I left, I went to smoke a cigarette in the Cigar Room in back, whose hermetically sealed glass doors and ventilation system isolate it from the rest of the restaurant. Those leather chairs give it the feel of a London club.

And then we left, happy to know that we’d been in on the first night of one of Tulsa’s finest restaurants.

Smoke.
1542 E. 15 St.
open for lunch and dinner
telephone not yet listed
website under construction:
http://smoketulsa.com/hyujn/
http://smoketulsa.com

Brian Schwartz: Author

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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