When I go to a new city, I like to try the best and the most unique things the city has to offer. Oklahoma City is home to Nonesuch, a twenty-seat tasting menu restaurant that won an award in 2018 for best new restaurant in the United States by Bon Appétit. Naturally, it was my top pick to try out while I was in Oklahoma City, so I went there for dinner tonight.
Unfortunately, the lighting was a bit dim so my camera had difficulty focusing and a lot of my photos came out blurry, but I still managed to get a handful of good shots. I feel like this restaurant is about the presentation as much as it is about the actual food, so some of these photos might not do justice for some of the dishes.
The first course was smoked borscht. The staff would explain each dish in much greater detail than just the name, but they would list off like 25 ingredients, so it was difficult to remember exactly what each dish was made out of. What I do recall about the borscht was that it had bison, and it had a very deep and rich taste to it.
The second course was catfish tart. It was far more than catfish tart, though—there was a bit of catfish at the bottom, but had a ton of extra flavors packed into it. I vaguely remember the staff telling me that the shell was actually made with something along the lines of kimchi. I actually ended up having two of these, for a fairly interesting reason…
My dinner companion caught and recovered from COVID-19 back in January 2021, but she still has persisting loss of taste and smell, several months later. Although some of it has come back, some foods still taste off for her. Apparently something in the catfish tart made it taste bad for her, so I had her portion.
Each course had a beverage to go along with it. My dinner companion had the reserve wine pairing, while I had the non-alcoholic pairing.
The non-alcoholic beverage to go along with the first two courses was cucumber honeysuckle shrub. I’m not the biggest fan of cucumber, but the cucumber was a bit more subtle in this beverage, so I still enjoyed it. The beverage to go along with the next two courses was strawberry and tomato. This had a slightly more viscous texture (presumably because of the tomato), and was slightly sweeter. Overall, the drinks were definitely made with an intent to complement the meal, rather than being standalone drinks.
Course three was asparagus with onion jam. Although this was very simple and straightforward, this was actually one of my favorite dishes, second only to one of the sweet courses later on.
The fourth course was a Spanish tortilla with rillette and blackened fruit. This dish seemed a bit plain at first, but this was my kind of food—I personally like foods that are only lightly seasoned so the true, deep taste of the actual ingredients can come out. The sauce went along great with the tortilla, and the greens provided just enough zest as to add an interesting flavor but not overwhelm the dish.
Course five was fava beans with chicken demi and white wine grapes. This dish literally made me feel like I was a rabbit eating straight out of my mother’s garden. The beans were beans, and the flowers had a fragrance that you’d expect from flowers.
Course six was potato with beurre blanc, which I don’t have a photo of because it was deep inside a bowl and the photo ended up blurry, but definitely tasty—the dish managed to capture both the crispy and soft aspect of potato at the same time. The potato came topped with a bit of caviar, but I could barely distinguish the taste of the caviar due to the liberal amount of sauce added to the potato.
The beverage pairing with these two courses was blueberry and sage.
The seventh course was focaccia and butter. This was one of my dinner companion’s favorite dishes, because the bread had a nice texture to it, and with diminished taste, texture becomes much more important in food. I also liked this, and would probably rate it third right after the asparagus. The edges were nice and crispy, while the inside was moist, soft, and spongy.
The eighth course, which is not pictured, was bison with smoked cheddar and pickles. This came out as a small lump of meat covered in cheese, so the photo doesn’t look very interesting, and it didn’t occur to me until after I finished it that I should have probably cut it in half and opened it up to photograph it. The meat was cooked medium rare and was very tender and juicy. This probably would’ve been my second or third favorite dish had it not been for the fact that I eat so much high-quality meat that I’m somewhat desensitized to great steak.
The beverage pairing with these two courses was beet hibiscus.
The bison was the final savory dish, and the ninth course was the transitional course from savory to sweet. This also ended up being my favorite dish—it was ginger mint tea with canneles. I find it silly that this somehow ended up being my favorite course, because there were so many other far more intricately-prepared dishes, and this one was so simple. Yet, I think that might have been why I liked it so much—it was some tea that wasn’t too sweet and wasn’t too plain, along with a nice pastry that also wasn’t too sweet and wasn’t too plain.
The final two courses were dessert. Course ten was sorrel ice cream with milk jam. I actually forgot to photograph this prior to taking my first bite, so I left the spoon in so it wouldn’t look weird and have a chunk missing. The actual ice cream was fairly plain, but with the jam, it was the perfect amount of sweet. There were also some greens and flower petals, which, when mixed in with each bite of ice cream, gave a much more interesting texture to the dessert.
And last but not least, the eleventh course was Madeira ice cream with pecan florentine. This tasted pretty much like normal rich, specialty ice cream, but with no greasy or fatty aftertaste. It was served in an edible cone atop an inedible bed of pecan shells. The beverage pairing for the final two dessert courses was spiced Thai tea port, which was unsweetened as to not interfere with the sweetness of the desserts.
I had a great experience and am happy with my restaurant selection, but I think this restaurant is sort of a one-time-visit kind of place. That’s one of the issues of restaurants that base their service heavily on the presentation and experience—the experience becomes less novel the second time around, and you get less value for your money because of it.
I think if I was ever in Oklahoma City again with someone very special and I wanted to treat them to the experience, and several months had passed since my last visit so the restaurant changed up all their courses, then I would visit again. However, if it wasn’t for those two prerequisites, I personally would much rather go to a place that is known for great-tasting food and large portion sizes.
One reason I say this is because of the price. I had originally thought the price listed on the website of US$110 per person was all-inclusive, but after going through the booking process and pre-paying for the reservation, I realized that absolutely wasn’t the case. Here’s a breakdown of what we paid:
|Eleven-course tasting menu ×2
|Reserve wine pairing
|Non-alcoholic beverage pairing
|Mountain Valley sparkling water (1 quart)
|Service charge (15%)
A few things to note is that the service charge is basically a gratuity, as the staff does not accept tips. Also, this final total price was not a surprise; Nonesuch requires you to pre-pay for your reservation, so you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into, and you have plenty of time to back out of the reservation after seeing the total price (i.e., there are no surprises after you arrive at the restaurant).
Overall, if this price point is something that is manageable for you and you’ve never been to Nonesuch before, then I’d definitely recommend it.