January 7th, 2011 by Brian Schwartz – Comments (27)
If you’re an East Coast transplant homesick for New York and you can’t afford the price of a plane ticket home, just get yourself to the corner of Brady and Main. You’ll find a row of old brick houses that could have been moved brick by brick from the city where walking is a pastime and a delight. Walk into the building on the corner and you’ll find yourself in the kind of quiet, tasteful and dreadfully expensive bistro that you’ll find in the richer parts of Manhattan.
Sure, the service is more welcoming, the prices lower, and the food just plain better than you’ll find at most of those New York places, but don’t let that disturb you. Just sit back, luxuriate, and enjoy the gem you’ve just discovered.
“I’m so excited to be here,” I kept repeating. I don’t know what the waiters thought, but they were trained and discreet enough to keep it to themselves. The menu was short and simple but, since it changes every week or so and this was only a few days after opening night, you might find when you go that a lot of entrees have been added. But even if the menu has doubled in length, you’d still be well advised to order what I got.
It’s a pork chop with mustard sauce ($15). A flavorful, meaty chop, perfectly cooked (I ordered it medium-rare). But it’s the sauce — creamy, laden with pan juices and wine as well as mustard; pure liquid luxury — that makes the dish. Too often a sauce detracts from a fine meat. Here, the flavors blended in ecstatic union. The vegetables, perfectly cooked, made a nice counterpoint.
The chef behind all this is Grant Vespasian. He worked as a sous-chef at the Palace Cafe and later at the Polo Grill (and also, by the way, as a bass guitar player who often jammed with his roommate David Cook). While at the Palace, he designed a vegetarian menu with sophisticated, multi-layered creations that titillated even the most jaded gourmet. The roast chicken ($18) showcases these skills.
Yes, the chicken was juicy, tender and in fact everything you can hope for in a chicken. But it’s the vegetables hidden below it that make the dish excel. Those are heirloom potatoes, fingerlings (the bonsai of the potato world), and I think they used both Russian Banana and Purple Peruvian varieties. Some of them were indeed purple and they all tasted wonderful. Greens are mixed in with the potatoes and so is a rich cream sauce that goes perfectly with the chicken as well as the vegetables. And ohhh how could I forget? All this was rocketed to smoky perfection by the addition of many tiny slivers of bacon.
Finally, there’s the burger ($13). It’s a blend of five rich meats, including short rib and brisket, topped with Stilton and accented by a mushroom cognac cream sauce on a homemade bun. I’m not qualified to judge it since it was gobbled up before I got a taste… so let this photo be your guide.
201 N. Main (corner of Brady)
Open daily 11 A.M. to Midnight (Thu – Sat to 2 P.M.)
(even though it’s named “Tavern”, children are welcome)
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.