Stylish Eats reviews are brought to you by Steven Giles Clothing, the menswear store for those with discerning taste. Style extends well beyond the confines of clothing, so Steven Giles is teaming up with I Ate Oklahoma to bring you reviews of eateries with a refined palate across the state.
During my most recent meal at Nonesuch, I turned to my dinner date and said, “I’m not sure if this is a restaurant.”
It is, of course. There are seats and there’s a long, U-shaped table, and there are chefs and plates and silverware and food and wine and you have to pay.
It’s a restaurant, but it’s also not the usual the kind of restaurant. Nonesuch isn’t a place you go on a whim. With ticket prices at $110 each (add $60 or $80 per person for wine pairings), most of us cannot pop in at the spur of the moment. And even if we could, there’s the small matter of getting seats. While Nonesuch doesn’t sell out months beforehand like it used to, there are still a limited number of seats per night and you must purchase your tickets in advance—the preparation and quality of the food demand it.
I also feel weird calling the dishes at Nonesuch a “meal.” It is edible, nutritious food, certainly, and it is filling—but don’t expect leftovers. And it’s not as if you order anything other than another glass of wine, if you so choose, because everything is planned out for you by the staff before you arrive.
While you may crave certain bites after the fact, you can’t go back and order them, because you don’t order anything. You buy a ticket and you take the ride.
It is ultimately futile to try to classify Nonesuch, because it is its own, beautiful, weird, wonderful little slice of Oklahoma. It’s not for everybody. It’s probably not for most people. But it’s for me. Boy howdy, is it directly up my culinary alley. And while we’ll talk a little about specific dishes, this isn’t going to be that kind of review, because Nonesuch isn’t that kind of restaurant.
Instead, I want to tell you about what it’s like to sit on those stools and why it’s an experience I try to relive as often as possible.
First things first, you head to exploretock.com/nonesuch on your Internet device and you figure out when you’d like to go. Nonesuch is open Wednesday through Saturday each week with seatings starting at 5:30 p.m. all the way through 9 p.m. Once you’ve found your day and time, you can add a wine pairing if you want, or a non-alcoholic drink pairing, spring water, or nothing. A wine pairing adds a lot to the experience, but it’s still amazing without the wine—I’m not going to pretend $60 or $80 added onto the price isn’t a lot for me, but your mileage may vary.
Once it’s booked...you wait. I found myself glancing at my calendar again and again in the days leading up to it, eager to make sure I didn’t somehow screw up the time or whatever.
When the big day finally arrives, you can dress just about however you want. Nonesuch is there to impress you with food, not be impressed by your outfit. Walk in, check in with whoever is working the door, and they’ll take you to your seats.
As the courses are prepared, whichever chef made it will serve it to you and tell you about the dish. Other than the eating, this is my favorite part. This is what Nonesuch is about. They could stay back in the kitchen, sending out increasing esoteric dishes with hard-to-follow instructions for eating—“Gently rub the emulsified carrot marshmallow against your back teeth without chewing while sniffing the pine-infused tea, which you should not drink.”—but they don’t. They explain everything to you. All the ingredients, including where they come from. How they prepared it and why. Sometimes there are eating instructions, but they’re not very weird. They just want to make sure you enjoy everything to the fullest.
I think I would have a nervous breakdown working at Nonesuch. I think the pressure of being “The Best New Restaurant in America” is insane in a normal restaurant, but in a tasting menu joint in Oklahoma City, where they’ve dedicated themselves to hyper-local, hyper-seasonal foods with a menu that changes regularly...I don’t know how they do it. But more than that, I don’t know how they’ve kept their sense of whimsy.
Because that is something that’s lost in the all the hubbub: Nonesuch is fun. When the first course came out, with lots of tiny plates and lots of tiny bites, it was introduced as the “Snack Attack.” And it lived up to the name, with five types of insanely intricate foods to be eaten in one or two bites. Haute cuisine snacking. It’s...moving.
One of the last times I’d eaten at Nonesuch, it was with an old friend who had just returned from a decade in Europe. She cried as she ate. Tears of joy. A well of emotion so full at what had become of her old home while she was abroad that she couldn’t help but let the tears flow.
This time (and, frankly, every time), I giggled. I was giddy with the prospect of tasting bison tartare with sweet potato crisp. I snickered over the beet cake with seasoned toma. The skill they put into making these snacks, the evident joy sitting in front of you as the chef gleefully explains what they’ve made—how can you not let that feeling wash over you?
Here are a few other notes from the night:
The tomato with bison broth was light and sweet and I wish it came by the bucket.
The brassica with vegetable demi glace was gorgeous and the demi glace gravy was ridiculously beefy for something that has no meat in it at all.
I never showed him a weapon, but I basically held Jeremy Wolfe up at butterknifepoint to get an extra sweet potato roll. If only I was more menacing, so I could get more toasted wheatberry butter.
When they served the warm spicy melon tea, they gave us cups with just homemade spicy sugar cubes and we ate those before they came back to pour the tea. I am not sure who was more embarrassed, but I think it was me.
Tea-smoked root vegetables with pecan cream convinced me that everything needs to be smoked with tea.
Barbecued quail > barbecued chicken and it’s not even close.
I told you this wasn’t going to be a typical review, but Nonesuch isn’t a typical restaurant and I don’t know that there’s any “typical” experience there. But if you love food and you love challenging your palate and you love being surprised and delighted, then a trip to Nonesuch should be in your future. I’m planning my next visit now.
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