Executive Chefs/Owners Jonathon Stranger and Russ Johnson have generated more national attention for their "farm-to-fork" concept than any other Oklahoma City restaurant. Unlike some so-called farm-to-table restaurants that supplement locally sourced ingredients with shipments from large distributors, at Ludivine, when they are out of an ingredient, the menu item is 86ed.
Because of their commitment to fresh ingredients, the menu changes daily at Ludivine. Updates are on the website, which makes it super convenient to see if they are serving something that piques your interest. Truthfully, locals will tell you if you ask which restaurant is the most creative or adventurous that it's Ludivine, hands down.
In Oklahoma City, if you're looking for game, Ludivine is the obvious choice. They regularly have venison, elk, wild fowl and line-caught fish. Charcuterie is a menu standard, and paired with a glass from their excellent wine list, it makes a great light meal. Also, there exists a subset of humanity who love bone marrow. You can always find it at Ludivine. Like we said, adventurous.
The other important thing locals know about Ludivine is that the bartenders are always among the best in the city. They win mixology competitions as often as the Thunder win ball games. Ludivine takes mixology seriously, and it's obvious from the remarkably well-stocked bar. Show up at midnight on a Friday, and you can participate in the Friday toast for the city, a beloved local ritual in which a local celebrity offers a toast for our awesome city.
Ludivine is dinner only Tuesday through Saturday 5:00 to 10:00 p.m. Monday nights from 5:00 to when it's gone is the Blue Plate, a featured item for bar guests. The bar is open 5:00 to midnight Monday through Thursday and 4:00 to 2:00 on weekends. Call ahead late night, though, because they will close early if business is light.
Located in the historic building of the same name one block off of Automobile Alley, Packard's features chef-driven American food. Executive Chef Chris McKenna oversees four menus: lunch, midday, dinner and brunch. Saturday and Sunday brunch are two of the most popular services in Oklahoma City. The brunch menu features traditional breakfast and comfort food with a twist. The Crunch-Berry French toast, served with mascarpone and maple syrup is a favorite of kids and adults. The biscuits and gravy are simply some of the best in the city, a remarkable achievement in a state that thinks of biscuits and gravy as a staple.
McKenna has managed to create one of the most innovative, delicious burgers in the city, too. The Piggy Burger is so popular he dares not take it off the menu. Made with blackened pork, ham, smoked Gouda, pickled jalapeños and creole honey mustard, it's required eating while in Oklahoma City. Even though it is heavy on the comfort food, Packard's also offers excellent vegetarian options, healthy salads, and an outstanding veggie platter. For dinner, the blackened redfish, served with crawfish etouffee and risotto is a top-seller year round. The dinner menu features steaks, chops, chicken and duck.
One of the main draws at Packard's is the vibrant bar scene. The excellent wine list is creative and inexpensive and includes a large selection of wine flights. The cocktails are crafted with attention to detail and appreciation for interesting flavor combinations. The downstairs bar is full menu service, but many locals are drawn to the rooftop bar, which has an amazing view of Oklahoma City's skyline.
Lunch is Tuesday-Friday 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The midday menu--a scaled down version of lunch--is served from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. Dinner is Tuesday-Thursday 4:00 to 10:00 p.m., and 4:00 to 11:00 Friday and Saturday. Brunch is served from 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, and 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Sunday. The rooftop bar is open until 10:00 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, and midnight Friday and Saturday nights.
Stella is modern Italian, and that is an important distinction. While owner Lori Burson occasionally includes rustic dishes on the menu, Executive Chef Melissa Aust oversees a kitchen better known for innovative pasta dishes, creative salads, Roma-style pizzas, hearty vegetarian options and outstanding seafood. The options change quarterly, which allows Stella to offer fresh, locally sourced ingredients every season of the year.
A changing menu means favorites move off the menu occasionally, but Burson is responsive to guest input, and favorites reappear with seasonal regularity. The short rib preparations--ragout, ravioli, and smoked--are local favorites, as is the chicken scallopini, which rarely goes off the menu. In the same way, the lunch menu features delicious, affordable options seasonally like the salmon BLT, the chicken orzo salad, and the half and half--half the featured pizza of the day with a choice of salad, soup or Italian potato salad.
Burson is rightly proud of her extensive Italian wine selection, too. She curates the whole list, and her by-the-glass list also changes quarterly. The bar is the center of the restaurant, and along with a good selection of local beers, Stella features seasonal cocktails.
Stella is open for brunch on Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., lunch Tuesday through Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and dinner Tuesday through Thursday from 5:00 to 10:00 p.m., and 5:00 to 11:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Tamashii bills itself as Japanese Soul Food. The designation is interesting but appropriate, as soul food was originally cuisine that reminded Southern African Americans of home as they moved north. In the same fashion, ramen is very regional in Japan, such that moving from Kyoto to Osaka would expose people to a totally different kind of cuisine. Ramen prepared according to their region of birth would therefore be "soul food."
Metaphors aside, the food at Tamashii is filling, hearty and delicious. Wakana Sebacher is a native Okinawan, so she grew up eating ramen. When her husband Michael decided to explore the varieties of ramen, she happily assisted. Now the couple serve traditional Japanese cuisine, including several styles of ramen. Tonkotsu is the first on the menu, and the first everyone ought to try, as long as you love braised pork belly. The Tonkotsu has a rich broth and is served with a seasoned, soft boiled egg, bamboo and green onion.
The Shoyu ramen is far lighter than the Tonkotsu. The fish cake that accompanies the Shoyu is mild and flavorful. Vegetarian and vegan ramen are also available, as is a good selection of traditional sides and appetizers like edamame and gyoza. If you’re not a ramen fan, there are other rice-based entrees. There is no proper bar at Tamashii, but they do have a small selection of beer and wine. Expect a line out the door at peak lunch and dinner hours.
Lunch at Tamashii is Tuesday through Sunday 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. (3:00 on Sunday). Dinner is served Tuesday through Thursday 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. and 5:00 to 10:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Author: Greg Horton