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Ludivine raises the bar for local dining

In two years, the farm-to-fork concept Ludivine has become a dining destination and made its mark on local culture.
by Dave Cathey Published: November 28, 2012

“We don't have grilled chicken breast,” Stranger said. “There's plenty of places to find that.”

Stranger and Johnson also know where there's room for a grilled chicken breast, there's room for rabbit, lamb or bison. And while they might not offer that oversized, hormone-marinated chicken breast, they currently have braised local chicken with homemade linguine. And while neither of them is uncouth enough to guarantee it's a better dish, I will happily do it for them.

On my most recent visit, Johnson made seared Montauk tuna that was among the best seafood I've ever tasted, proving the 1-percent of food they do that isn't sourced locally is just as good as the other 99 percent of the menu. The slow-roasted local lamb shoulder was sublime.

Meanwhile, Ludivine has made roasted bone marrow and the bone marrow luge a part of the local conversation, which by itself is worthy of praise. They serve charcuterie daily and celebrate bison as often as possible. Heritage pigs from Walnut Creek Farms often get top billing on the menu. Local lamb is as common to Ludivine as Kramer was to “Seinfeld.”

Meanwhile, Ludivine has not only tested the boundaries of local dining, it's become an advocate for progressive local culture, hosting events for Oklahoma City Ballet and carrying the torch for H&8th nights in MidTown.

More than anything, Johnson, Stranger and the crew have invested more sweat equity in Ludivine that can be measured. The time they spend prepping daily constantly dilutes their own hourly wages.

Guests at Ludivine are surely in line for a memorable dinner, but they might not realize they are contributing to a movement toward a sustainable way of life aimed at securing our local culture. A visit to Ludivine is a visit to a living art gallery in which the only inedible works are those hanging on the walls.

Ludivine is open 5 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The bar is open 5 p.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday, and 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. For reservations, call 778-6800.