The Deep Fork Grill, 5418 N Western Ave., turned the page in July on a turbulent couple of years with the addition of chef Beau Stephenson, a veteran of several local kitchens including his own Bin 73 Wine Bar just up the street.
But Stephenson wants you to know his work at Deep Fork doesn't spell doom for Bin 73, where he remains chef/partner.
“We promoted chef Keith Dabbs at Bin 73, and he's running things accordingly, every single day,” Stephenson said.
As part of his new Deep Fork Grill gig, which also includes some general managing duties, Stephenson has been hard at work paring down a menu that had grown too expansive over the last decade and was in need of some editing.
“There were 80 items labeled out specifically on the menu,” he said. “I cut it down. I cut in half. Pastas have been drastically cut, and pizza has been removed — it's no longer available here.”
And why not? Part of Deep Fork's repertoire of concepts is the wildly successful Wedge Pizzeria.
“We've gone more to the meat side of dining, bringing in a couple of exotics, but the star is certified Angus beef — we've got a great beef program here,” he said of Deep Fork Grill.
He said his goal was to streamline not renovate the restaurant.
“The beauty of Deep Fork is it's always been one of those places everyone can enjoy,” he said. “That was the trick, keep enough so the regulars can still enjoy their favorites and make sure they're still coming in.”
Stephenson divided the new menu by cuts.
“There is a chop section, a tenderloin section, fowl section, we've got a fish board,” he said. “This place has long been considered one of the top places in town to get seafood.”
Stephenson has added a live lobster tank, littleneck clams and mussels to tried-and-true dishes including seared tuna and smoked salmon.
One item he's added and encourages people to check out is the Smoked Quail Escabeche and Venison Loin, which is a cold-smoked, heavily seasoned quail stuffed with risotto served with wood-fired venison loin chop.
Even the very popular DFG brunch has gotten a makeover
“Just rolled out our new brunch menu,” Stephenson said. “We're featuring a lot of flavors from all over the world, implementing them with some of the most popular items that were already on the menu. What we've added is a lot of Southwest flair, with little bits of chorizo all over the place to (add) some heat people can dive into.”
Stephenson's first task was to pare down the menu, but the bar has been under his scrutiny, too.
“We've been working on the wine list, building it up. The bar is really great here,” he said. “We're also doing chefs dinners for $95 with suggested wine pairings.”
If you walked into the Deep Fork without reading this article, you'd be hard-pressed to guess it was ever a fast-casual fajita factory that was wrapped in glass, had a large dining patio and drive-through window. Deep Fork Grill is set up for private events as well as any restaurant in Oklahoma City, with eight options, including a club room on the second floor with full bar and absolute privacy.
“We have private dining options for as little as four and up to 100 seated,” co-owner Dave Attalla said.
Through the years
The space on North Western Avenue at the northeast foot of the Interstate 44 overpass originated as Two Pesos, which did a brisk business through the late 1980s. But in 1987, Taco Cabana filed a trade dress misappropriation suit against the concept, which carried all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1992 and ended in favor of Taco Cabana.
If you go
The Deep Fork Grill is open daily, including holidays. Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.