Along with Valentine's Day, New Year's Eve is among the busiest nights of the year in the restaurant industry, which also makes it a prime evening for special dinner services and events.
The ceaseless flow of diners makes it imperative for some eateries to simplify the menu in order to deliver a full and satisfying dining experience without killing kitchen staff. Thus, you'll see a lot of prix fixe menus done in seatings. But some restaurants don't change a thing.
I did some checking around with local independent restaurant owners to find out who is doing what, and the most interesting plan I came across is the festivities at Rococo's Northpark Mall location. Chef/owner Bruce Rinehart and chef/partner Jason Bustamante are planning what they call an “Extravagant Buffet” starting at 5 p.m. Like their cruise-line Sunday brunch, Rinehart and Bustamante will use the considerable square-footage at the Northpark Mall incarnation of the nearly 9-year-old Rococo concept to offer live music, dancing, cocktails and dinner.
“We'll have a hot line,” Rinehart said. “It'll have a nice salmon dish, our lobster mac 'n' cheese, a nice airline chicken and some other sides. And then a carving station, seafood bar with ice sculpture. It'll be a lot of fun.”
The carving station includes roasted beef tenderloin. The seafood station will offer oysters, shrimp cocktail and crab legs. The hot line will also include garlic-rosemary potatoes, rice pilaf and roasted root vegetables. A soup and salad table will include lobster bisque, smoked salmon, cheeses, fresh fruits and vegetables, Waldorf and green salads and artisan bread.
Assorted cakes will anchor the dessert choices, plus petit fours, truffles and dipped strawberries. Cost is $65.
“We'll also do a complimentary Champagne toast at both locations,” Rinehart said.
The original Rococo location will carry on with normal service, offering the full regular menu. Rinehart strongly recommends reservations for both Rococo locations. For Northpark, call 212-4577; for Rococo's original location, 2824 N Pennsylvania Ave., call 528-2824.
Some other options
Meanwhile, places such as the newly reopened Redrock Canyon Grill, Cattlemen's Steakhouse and A Good Egg Dining properties including Cheever's Cafe, Iron Starr Urban BBQ, Republic Gastropub and Red PrimeSteak will carry on with normal services.
Bellini's Ristorante, 6305 Waterford Blvd. #100, will have three seatings for dinner, which will include the regular menu and some specials from the kitchen. Call 848-1065 for reservations.
Bin 73, 7312 N Western Ave., will feature Champagne specials by the glass and bottle all night and a free breakfast buffet starting at midnight.
The Coach House, 6437 Avondale Drive, will do seatings at 6 and 9 p.m. for a seven-course meal with wine pairings for $125. Call 842-1000 for reservations.
Cafe Nova, 4308 N Western Ave., will feature a four-course dinner conceived by Deep Fork Group executive chef Peter See. Cost is $40, which includes a Champagne toast. Call 525-6682 for reservations.
Deep Fork, 5418 N Western Ave., will offer regular menu service plus a special four-course dinner with wine pairings. For reservations, call 848-7678.
At Grand House Asian Bistro, 2701 N Classen Blvd., the purchase of a bottle of wine will earn you a free appetizer plus OKC Thunder and Red Canyon, Volcano and Crazy Cowboy rolls will be $10 all night. For reservations, call 524-7333.
Hensley's Top Shelf Grill, 1551 Garth Brooks Blvd. in Yukon, will close at 10 p.m. on New Year's Eve and throw a party with live music scheduled from 10:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. with three stations including carved roast beef, mini black and blue bruschetta, and dessert flambe. The party also will boast a cold appetizer bar with fruit, crudites, chips and dips and smoked salmon. At midnight, staff will pop the top off bottles of Mumm's sparkling wine. Cost is $25. Space is limited; call 265-4076.
Jamil's Steakhouse, 4910 N Lincoln Blvd., will offer 10- to 12-ounce lobsters will all of Jamil's Lebanese appetizers for $59.99. Call 525-8352 for reservations.
La Baguette Bistro, 7408 N May Ave., will ring in the new year with a traditional French menu, including Coquille St. Jacques, Salade d'Audrey with duck confit and port wine figue, Filet en Croute (Rossini style) and a Hazelnut Mousse Pyramid, in addition to the regular menu. Call 840-3047 for reservations.
Norman's farm-to-fork concept Local, 2262 W Main St., will have seatings at 5, 7:30 and 10 p.m. Chef Ryan Parrott's feast will begin with an amuse bouche of Champagne Aperge Egg, which includes Champagne Truffle Mousse, caviar, micro greens, shaved radish salad and a cucumber Champagne shooter.
First course is a Lobster Bisque topped with Puff Pastry or Spinach and Apple Salad with Bleu Cheese, toasted pecans and honey-vinaigrette. The entree course is a choice of Prime Rib with Au Gratin Potatoes and Bok Choy; Poached Salmon with truffle honey glaze, pear-raisin jam and lump crab risotto; Chicken Breast stuffed with sun-dried tomato, cream cheese, cilantro and spinach with Au Gratin Potatoes and Bok Choy; or Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie, which is a rich portobello and tofu stew baked with piped mashed potatoes.
Dessert is a Truffle Trio, including Dark Chocolate, Grand Marnier & Gold Flake; Key Lime Pie or Sticky Toffee Pudding with Fresh Cream. Cost is $35. Call 928-5600 for reservations.
Ludivine, 805 N Hudson Ave., will feature two seatings and a dinner fit for royalty. Chefs Jonathon Stranger and Russ Johnson did extensive research on feasts prepared for various monarchs through history and will riff on the menus they found. Call 778-6800 for reservations.
The Metro Wine Bar and Bistro, 6418 N Western Ave., will offer a four-course dinner from chef Christine Dowd with special wine pairings. For reservations, call 840-9463.
The Museum Cafe, 415 Couch Drive, will host a six-course dinner followed by a Champagne toast on the rooftop to watch fireworks at midnight. For reservations, call 235-6262.
Musashi's, 4315 N Western Ave., is typically closed on Mondays but will open for New Year's Eve.
Opus Prime Steakhouse, 800 Memorial Road, will offer a four-course dinner highlighted by lobster and filet for $199 per couple, in addition to its regular menu. For reservations, call 607-6787.
Picasso's Cafe, 3009 Paseo St., will feature live jazz and its regular menu.
Stella Modern Italian, 1201 N Walker Ave., will offer Stella's favorites from the menu plus a four-course special dinner planned by chef Jonathan Krell. The chef's dinner is $65 with wine pairings matched to each course available for an additional $35. Krell's menu is designed for the entire table to participate, including lobster bisque, seared scallops with white beans and warm bacon vinaigrette, New York strip with white truffle mac and cheese and smoked asparagus finished with balsamic glazed portobellini mushrooms. Dessert is milk chocolate and luxardo cherry trifle. Call 235-2200 to reserve seats.
Vito's Ristorante, 7521 N May Ave., will offer its usual homestyle Italian menu and specials but, as is tradition, owner Cathy Cummings will be armed with brand-new crisp dollar bills.
VZD's Restaurant and Bar, 4200 N Western Ave., will feature live music from the Fortune Tellers and the Feel Spectres.