I went downtown to visit the opening H&8th Night Market of 2014 to sample foods from a new concept planned by the owner of Ludivine, but instead was swallowed up by an even bigger story.
I don’t know what has to happen before a city can aptly be called a food town, but a crowd estimated between 15,000 and 20,000 showing up for an event centered around food trucks surely gives something more than a friendly nudge toward that designation.
The previous largest crowd for the monthly street party that begins in March and ends in October was 8,500 since it began in 2011.
About two dozen trucks were on hand to serve the masses, and serve they did, early and often. Vendors served traditional Oklahoma barbecue, Mexican-Asian fusion, crepes, assorted tacos, Italian food, seafood, hot dogs, pizza, ice cream and pies. A truck from El Reno serving that town’s specialty, fried-onion burgers, was there for a dose of Oklahoma authenticity.
Regardless of whether folks are ready to call this a food town, it’s clear cultural evolution is under way in Oklahoma City thanks in great part to what’s going on in Midtown. And that’s not slowing down any time soon, with additions on the way from Elliott Nelson of McNellie’s fame and the aforementioned new concept from Ludivine chef/owners Jonathon Stranger and Russ Johnson.
I can tell you a number of things about the new concept, but what I can’t tell you is the name.
That’s because it doesn’t yet have one. I can tell you it will be a bar and it will be in a small space in the rear of the building long occupied by Archer Printing. I can also tell you this nameless bar will have a food menu that draws inspiration from the American supper club of the 1950s and ’60s.
“You know the kind of food you see on ‘Mad Men’?” Stranger asked rhetorically during his explanation. “Not quite as fancy as that. If we do Lobster Thermodor, it’ll be as a special.”
Stranger said dishes like Salisbury steak will be more the norm.
“We want to do the classics our way,” Stranger said.
The new concept will be on the 300 block of NW 10 Street, just east of Walker Avenue, in the back portion of the building where Archer Printing resided before its recent merger.
If you’ve got ideas for the name, Stranger and Johnson aren’t afraid to listen. They featured some of the dishes at last week’s H&8th Night Market at Ludivine, 805 N Hudson, and will continue that exercise until they open the new bar by the end of September.
“We need feedback,” Stranger said. “And H&8th gives us a chance to play with these new ideas and hear from people.”