There is lots to talk about in the latest edition of a little about a lot in the Oklahoma City dining scene:
• Del City native Joshua Valentine made a valiant run at the title on the 10th season of Bravo's “Top Chef” but fell one step short of the finale.
With the field cut down to three and the knowledge that his infant daughter, Georgia, was taking her first breaths, Valentine was eliminated from the competition that started in Seattle and moved on to Alaska.
Then on the Last Chance Kitchen portion of the show, an online cook-in for eliminated chefs, he bowed to eventual champion Kristen Kish, of Boston.
Valentine was all set to serve the fifth and final course in the finale on Kristen's behalf, but the title was sewn up at the end of the fourth course.
Valentine currently is pastry chef at FT33 in Dallas, but don't be surprised to see his ginger-toned mustache twirling in a kitchen back here in Oklahoma soon.
The Coach's in downtown Norman, 102 W Main St., was the first to open. As of Jan. 31, it was the last to close.
The venerable pizza, barbecue and burger concept makes way for a new S&B Burger Joint, marking the fourth addition to the local chain. The downtown Norman space had been operating as S&B Burger Joint by Coach's since October, but ownership ultimately decided a full-on conversion was in order, retiring the Coach's name at the end of January.
The new store opened Monday in the original Coach's space, which was opened in 1996 by University of Oklahoma football legend Steve Owens, Jack Hooper and Hal Smith.
It eventually expanded into Bricktown and Edmond before those stores closed in reverse order. It was a common place for Sooner fans to cheer on the crimson and cream with a cold beer, pizza, barbecue or burger.
Last summer, the Bricktown location added the phenomenal barbecue of Russ “The Smokin' Okie” Garrett, but that store closed Dec. 31.
Garrett is managing concessions for Enduring Brands at the Zoo Amphitheatre, meaning the city's top barbecue will be available the next time you go see Styx, Steve Miller or Kansas in concert.
Meanwhile, S&B continues to prove it's the little burger joint that could thanks to the imagination of Shannon Roper and Bryan Neel.
Sources tell me the next target for S&B is far north Oklahoma City. The tentative target is a June opening in the general vicinity of N May Avenue and Memorial Road.
• La Madeleine, a Dallas-based, French-style cafe, is coming to Oklahoma City. Founded in 1983 by Patrick Esquerre, the franchise is now owned by Le Duff America. An Oklahoma City franchise is planned within the next 12 months.
The restaurant specializes in French country-style food served in a fast-casual setting for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Expect fresh house-made breads, pastries and soups. The menu also offers salads, sandwiches, crepes, quiches and stuffed puff pastries. You will also find a bistro-style chicken, pastas and paella. Breakfast is a mix of hearty items and European specialties.
On the deep down-low, I have confirmation that chef Ryan Parrott, recently of Local in Norman and Iguana Mexican Grill before that, will open a new taqueria-style concept on the northwest corner of NW 36 and Western Avenue, where Ronnie Black's Automotive flourished for many years.
He'll partner with Jeff Rogers of City Walk nightclub to open a chef-driven menu in a fast-casual setting.
The name is still a few weeks from being released, and look for it to open in early summer.
Even deeper in the chasm of clandestine is news about the long-vacant restaurant space atop Founders Tower, 5900 Mosteller Drive. Sources tell me a brand-new restaurant is due to open its doors where Nikz at the Top last spun, in the near future.
I will have more information about the new concept in the weeks to come, so stay tuned.