NORMAN — Tucked in the corner of a timeworn strip mall is perhaps the most ambitious restaurant concept the state has ever produced.
Three sisters and a veteran local chef have combined to create a farm-to-fork concept aimed at changing how Oklahomans view food in a way the whole family can enjoy.
The sisters are Heather Steele, Melissa Scaramucci and Abby Clark. The chef is Ryan Parrott. The restaurant is called LOCAL, at 2262 W Main St. in the Normandy Creek Shopping Center.
The 10,000-square-foot space was home to Furr's Cafeteria for years, but no one would guess it without prior knowledge. After a short walk through a covered patio, visitors enter the lobby with its swank check-in desk. A few paces down a curved corridor is a market and gift shop to the right and Localville's entrance on the left.
Localville is an on-site child care operation with playhouses, screening room and space for infants to catch a little peace and quiet.
The idea began with Melissa, who along with her husband, Todd, visited a hotel restaurant that included a
“We thought, ‘Why can't we have one of these in Oklahoma?'
When that conversation developed into a full-fledged idea, Melissa reached out first to family. Sister Abby was a third-grade teacher, and Heather has a retail management background. The sisters then reached out to longtime friend Robert Painter, Parrott's partner at the Iguana Mexican Grill, as a consultant on the project. Painter sought the help of Parrott, who decided the concept was too good to give up to another chef.
“I was helping them find a chef and decided I didn't want another chef to have the kitchen,” Parrott said.
Just beyond the market and Localville junction is a bar, featuring local beer and draft wine, that is the last stop before entering the expansive dining room.
LOCAL has seating for about 200. Overlooking the dining room is the open kitchen where Parrott, who developed one of the city's top reputations with his Table One chef's table concept and in the Deep Fork Group kitchens, oversees ingredients that are nearly 100 percent local.
“The seafood obviously isn't local,” Parrott said. “But DeLancey Miller is our fishmonger, and I have the utmost respect for his methods.”
Miller's DeLancey Street Seafood sells only fish that are in season and works with fishermen who use sustainable techniques.
“Citrus fruit and a few other fruit aren't local,” Parrott said. “But everything else is.”
Flavors of Oklahoma
LOCAL's intention is to celebrate the flavors of Oklahoma, but the menu reaches around the globe for inspiration.
“All of us love food,” Melissa said. “We all have favorites, and we wanted the menu to reflect our passion for food.”
Entrees, which range from $10 to $18, include a burger, meatloaf cupcakes, chicken pho, Moroccan-style lamb, fish tacos, salmon, roasted chicken, pork belly, Bouef Bourguignon and ratatouille. Lunch also includes a Berkshire pork sandwich and Reuben sandwich.
Pasta dishes include Lobster Mac and Cheese, Paparadelle with Roasted Mushrooms, Turkey Lasagna, Sweet Potato Ravioli, Ox-Tail Ravioli, a play on stroganoff and daily risotto.
The Bacon and Egg Salad, which includes a flash-fried poached egg and Peach Crest Farms arugula, is a highlight from the variety of salads. The appetizer menu is highlighted by Risotto Meatballs, which are sure to be ordered as entrees. The prosciutto-wrapped, goat cheese-stuffed dates are addictive. Both the tapenade and carrot dip offer plenty of flavor, and the BLT Deviled Eggs will doubtlessly be popular with Oklahoma palates.
Parrott said if you like his current dessert list, which includes Mascarpone Apple Spice Cake and Deconstructed Black Forest Cake, to name a couple, then you should stock up, because they won't be around long.
“I wrote the dessert menu with a winter opening in mind,” Parrott said. “Spring just started, so we're already looking at some new ideas.”
Parrott said his farm-to-fork menu won't rotate as frequently as the one at Ludivine.
“The dishes are going to stay on the menu for a while, but the components will change with the seasons,” he said.
Fine family dining
The New American Cuisine is served in a family-friendly fine dining atmosphere. Floors are polished concrete, and tables aren't adorned with linens. But glassworks and a small art gallery in the rear of the restaurant make it clear that patrons are in for a special
Parents who want to experience an intimate evening without finding a baby sitter can bring the kids, who order from a special menu. Children's orders are rushed so youngsters can retire to Localville before Mom and Dad are through with their appetizers.
Experiencing expertly made food made from close to a dozen Oklahoma producers is sure to move the needle on how we view dining out. The success of LOCAL could be a cornerstone in how the rest of the country views Oklahoma's dining scene.
If you go
LOCAL is open Tuesday through Sunday with plans for brunch in the near future. For more information, call 928-5600 or go to http://