“The Bon Appétit list came out this morning and Nonesuch is #1!” Kacy yelled to me in an excited, yet panicked tone. “Oh, no way!” I replied, instantly realizing that the reservation I hadn’t booked yet for our anniversary at OKC’s hippest restaurant was now in jeopardy. This sort of national attention would have the place packed for months. Luckily, we had caught the news early enough in the day that I was able to swiftly secure our coveted spot for dinner. Anniversary disaster averted.
The list that Kacy was referring to was Bon Appétit’s Hot Ten, their list of “Americas’s Best New Restaurants 2018”. The list starts with 50 of the best new restaurants opening in the last year before the big reveal of the top 10. Just being on the list is a huge deal. Being #1 is unthinkable. The restaurant and chefs are now known on a national level.
With great praise and adoration, comes heightened and sometimes unrealistic expectations. From our years of experience chasing the hottest new places with top reviews and Michelin stars, we have learned that it is always best to leave your expectations and pre-conceived notions at the door.
Nonesuch is truly a unique restaurant, particularly for Oklahoma. Charging $75 for 10 courses, many of which are only 1-2 bites in size, takes chutzpa no matter what city you are in. Throw in the fact that everything is hyper-seasonal and hyper-local to Oklahoma and you are teetering on WTF status.
This type of restaurant, in OKC of all places, has always peaked my interest. Dinner for our 5th wedding anniversary seemed like the perfect time to dive in and see what it was all about. After consuming a few cocktails around town we walked into the dimly lit space, herbs hanging haphazardly around the small restaurant. The service was attentive and our first drink was placed in our hands.
Course One: Cherry Tomatoes, Gherkins and Chilled Ginger Broth
Before the first bite, you could smell the aromatic broth. It was a small dish but digging into the fresh, crunch veggies and delicate broth excited our palates but did leave us wanting a little bit more. Maybe that’s the point?
Course Two: Copa, Lardo and Tomato atop Sourdough Waffle
The dish was playfully served on a warm stone with the waffle’s touch of sweetness pairing well with the savory Italian meatsFor a restaurant that was backed by Waffle Champion, it was fun to see one of my favorite foods on the menu.
Course Three: Salted Squash and Peach Mayonnaise over Sable Cracker
This was one of Kacy’s favorite dishes of the evening. The peach mayonnaise was a fun touch, a nice juxtaposition with the salted squash. This bite packed a lot of flavor without overwhelming the senses.
Course Four: Potato, Hackleback Caviar and Slow Cooked Egg Yolk Sauce
The following course was a potato cooked slowly in pork fat topped with Oklahoma hackleback caviar and slow cooked egg yolk. I had heard of the concept of “egg on egg” (fish eggs on an egg yolk) but had never tried it. I’d gladly eat it again and again. Since everything served at Nonesuch must be local, and Oklahoma isn’t exactly known for their fresh seafood we found this to be an extremely inventive touch.
Course Five: Tartlets with Soft Scrambled Eggs and Black Garlic
The fifth course also involved eggs. Flaky, buttery tartlets filled with soft scrambled eggs sprinkled and with black garlic. These were unlike any scrambled eggs I’ve ever had before and it was a clear favorite for me for the night. I could have eaten 100 of these.
Course Six: Buttermilk Sorbet and Salted Fennel Seeds
This buttermilk sorbet was tangy and funky with a little bitterness from the fennel seed. Honestly, this dish wasn’t our favorite and seemed a bit out of place. When you’re putting together 11-course meals, it’s not surprising to have one fall flat. Although other diners might have had entirely different reactions. Eating at Nonesuch is an exploration, and no one will experience it in quite the same way.
Course Seven: Pecan Oil Focaccia with Chicken Liver Mousse
This is a course I don’t think anyone would kick out of bed. The pecan oil focaccia was slightly crispy with a soft interior and topped with pickled jalapeños. We have tried and failed to love chicken liver many times over the years, but this may have been the first time we were really won over. Spread thin over the hot bread, it quickly became absorbed seamlessly into the dish.
Course Eight: Grilled Bison Ribeye and Mixed Greens with Watercress Sauce
The course that followed was a grilled bison ribeye with mixed greens and a watercress sauce. If you are going to be hyper-local to Oklahoma you’d be foolish to overlook all the available proteins. The meat was tender with rich marbles of fat bookending each bite. The mixed greens and watercress sauce served to season the meat without overpowering its natural flavor.
Course Nine (not pictured): Iced Sorghum Herbal Tea Alongside Shortbread Cookie
Although we were unable to capture a usable photo of this dish, it was still a memorable one. This was a two-part dish with shortbread cookies and an iced sorghum herbal tea. The cookies were tasty but nothing to write home about. The tea however, was a real highlight of the meal. Brewed each morning with local herbs and other foraged ingredients, this iced tea had so much flavor or depth to it.
Course Ten: Cantalope Sherbet
While there were no frills or anything fancy about this dish, it turned out to be one of the most memorable of the evening. If we could, we’d buy this by the pint (and probably eat it in one sitting).
Course Eleven: Basil Ice Cream over Blueberries and Sweet Potato Cake
The final course was a visual masterpiece. Every component was packed with the vim and vigor of chefs who truly enjoy making good food. Each bite was more interesting than the last. I would not have thought that sweet potato, blueberries, and basil would make such a balanced combination, but they came together to create a perfect finale for a seriously fun meal.
Although it can be tough, I would strongly advise against going to Nonesuch from the lens of it being “best new restaurant in America”. No restaurant can really live up to such a lofty label. If you appreciate it for what it is, especially being right in our backyard of OKC of all places, and accept how different and uncompromising it is then you will enjoy a wonderful and delicious experience.
If you missed getting a reservation this month, set your calendars for September 1st to secure a spot for a meal in October. Keep in mind, each meal at Nonesuch is a completely different experience. So while you may not have any of the dishes we described above, you can expect an eye-opening meal that will broaden your culinary horizons – as long as you arrive with an open mind.
For Kacy’s take on our experience at Nonesuch, click here.