Mother's Day is nearing, and chef Ryan Parrott's mom will be happy to know her son has a new stove to call home. And the stove he will man will be the first stove this restaurant has ever seen.
A couple of months ago, the raw foods revolutionary announced he was closing his raw foods concept to change the Classen Curve space into something new.
That something new is Tamazul, which will serve cuisine inspired by interior Mexico. And you can't do that without a little fire.
But Rob Crabtree, director of culinary operations, said the restaurant will not have a deep fryer. He said Tamazul will reflect the flavors of different regions of Mexico, and not rely on Tex-Mex, which is well-represented in the Oklahoma City market.
That means that, while the menu will include dishes with names you'll find familiar, the interpretations might not fit what the Tex-Mex diner is used to.
Crabtree said the goal will be to introduce Oklahoma City to a new level of promise for Mexican cuisine.
The guy responsible for the menu is Ryan Parrott, who has been chef at The Deep Fork Grill, The Iguana Mexican Grill, Table One and most recently Local in Norman.
Parrott is chomping at the bit to get this concept up and running by the end of summer.
The closest thing the market will have seen to this concept is likely the Hal Smith-operated Cabo Del Sol, where chef Kamala Gamble used to cook. Adobe Grill featured some departures into interior Mexico, but never dove in headfirst. The same could be said for 1492 New Latin Grill, which is set to open a second location in Casady Square.
Parrott created a faithful following when he partnered with Robert Painter to rebirth the Iguana concept on NW 9. His good work there means expectations will be even higher when Tamazul opens in late summer.
The restaurant will be managed by Vivian Wood. Crabtree said the name comes from a painting by Mexican artist Francisco Toledo. He said the space where 105Degrees first opened its doors in September 2009 will not undergo a whole lot of changes other than to drop in a vent hood and some cooking implements.
Crabtree said the bar will emphasize tequila and craft mescals.
“We're working very hard to source some really interesting mescal,” he said. “We think people will be surprised how good it can be.”
As one who loves Mexican food, I will be waiting with bated breath and plate outstretched.
A new spirit?
Just around the bend from Tamazul, in the space previously occupied by the Elephant Bar in the south parking lot of Penn Square Mall, is the Plano, Texas, concept Whiskey Cake Kitchen and Bar.
The kitchen will be lead by Chef de Cuisine Kenneth Hardiman, offering Whiskey Cake's signature American comfort food with a farm-to-fork and garden-to-glass mission.
Whiskey Cake's modus operandi thus far has been cooking from scratch, using local ingredients as much as possible in both the kitchen and the bar.
The quirky menu follows a trend of reinterpreting comfort foods with techniques from other cultures or dressing burgers, sandwiches and simple entrees for church. Whiskey Cake offers Deviled Eggs as appetizers, but rotates the interpretation every week.
Other menu staples include fried-green tomatoes and Three Little Pigs sliders and mussels in chili butter with Swiss chard as neighbors on the appetizer menu.
How could you go wrong with a bowl of pork belly ramen in scented broth with fresh noodles, herb bouquet and quail egg?
Sandwiches range from edamame mushroom veggie burger to a play on the French dip using lamb and serving it with onion marmalade on a brioche bun with barbecue banh mi and house-cured turkey pastrami in between.
Entrees include unique presentations of farm-raised chicken, salmon, pork “brisket,” smoked duck, redfish, steak frites and chicken-fried quail.
But the restaurant is named after Whiskey Cake, the specialty of the house. It is a toffee torte with Buffalo Trace Bourbon anglaise, spiced pecans and whipped cream. Sign me up.
Whiskey Cake has a roster of local producers already lined up, and is looking for more. The restaurant will start out using cheddar cheese from Christian Cheeses in Kingfisher, pasture-raised eggs from Crack of Dawn Farm in Purcell, milk from Lomah Dairy Farm in Wyandotte, grass-fed beef from Natural Farms in Tulsa, and stone-ground whole wheat flour from P Bar Farms' Stone Stack Mill in Hydro.
And I haven't even gotten into the restaurant's bar offerings, which are considerable.
Whiskey Cake, 1845 NW Expressway, opens its doors Monday.
For more information, go to whiskey-cake.com
Progress, not perfection
Last week, Gov. Mary Fallin signed House Bill 1341, which when it goes into effect on Nov. 1 will allow local breweries to offer samples in tasting rooms.
While this isn't the overhaul that Oklahoma's outdated, and in some cases wrongheaded, liquor laws need, it's a start. At this point, I'll take a little progress. Meanwhile, congratulations to our local brewers for this move in the right direction.