Chefs Andrew Black and Rudy Khouri set out to provide Oklahoma City diners with a new restaurant experience that is as different as the diners themselves.
Culinary Edge includes three individual restaurant concepts: La Baguette Deep Deuce and Black Walnut, which opened in early 2019, and Grey Sweater, coming soon.
Although each of the restaurants provides something different, they share the chefs’ commitment to pushing boundaries and being at the forefront of culinary innovation and exploration.
La Baguette Deep Deuce keeps true to its Norman counterparts with co-owner and Executive Chef Rudy Khouri at the helm. However, the Central Oklahoma staple’s new downtown location takes the “Parisian cafe with an American twist” to the next level, featuring a vibrant brunch menu, salads, hot sandwiches, freshly baked cakes and pastries, and more.
The food focuses on fresh, quality ingredients, and the atmosphere is about not taking yourself too seriously, Chef Rudy said. It’s a modern cafe, a place you can come and plug-in while you enjoy a coffee, stay for lunch, and leave with a pastry, for later.
In addition to the familiarity offered by La Baguette Deep Deuce, diners can venture next door to explore new tastes at Black Walnut.
“Explore the Unexpected” is the motto behind Black Walnut. The concept aims to blend global flavors in a “dressed, but not dressy” atmosphere.
“Black Walnut is not your usual restaurant,” a restaurant representative said. “This is a place that challenges perception. What Chef Black has done with flavor profiles and mix-and-matching, it’s somewhat unrivaled in this city.”
With hype like that, I had to try Black Walnut for myself, and since it was my brother’s birthday, I took him along for the ride.
I was told to expect an exploration of flavor from our meal and advised to try various dishes in family-style dining fashion.
The food menu is divided into four distinct, mood-centered categories: sweet and savory, fresh and light, smokey and satisfying, and casual and comforting. Following instructions, we ordered a variety of dishes for the table.
First came the char-grilled oysters. Grilled with parmesan, cambozola and Thai vinaigrette, these little treats burst with flavors you don’t expect from seafood, especially in a landlocked state.
Next, smoked mac and cheese bites, served on a bed of smoky tomato sauce–a dish that is as comforting as it is decadent–and a rich, complex concoction of baked chevre and confit peppers, served with smoked garlic charred rosemary bread and candied bacon.
Knowing that the experience was intended to be a buttoned-down, exploratory experience, we had no qualms about making the meal our own, creating small sandwiches with our baked chevre spread.
Next came the part of the meal I’d been waiting for, the fried green tomatoes topped with burrata, avocado and candied bacon. Listed in the light and fresh section of the menu, this dish is the epitome of the category. Believe you me, Chef Black’s take on this traditional southern treat is something that today’s health-conscious moms would be proud to call home cookin’.
Finally, we indulged my brother’s vegetarian taste buds, and expanded my carnivorous ones, by giving the quinoa balls a try. Made from a mixture of quinoa, sweet corn and roasted peppers, and drizzled with chimichurri sauce, Chef Black brought this signature dish from one of his former Norman-based concepts.
While I was surprised that I could enjoy an almost entirely vegetarian meal, my brother sat in awe of Chef Black’s ability to create quinoa balls that stuck together during the cooking process, but when cut into, poured out from their shells with perfect texture and consistency.
A fan of drinking my dessert, I saved the best for last. Although Black Walnut’s cocktail and wine menus feature a wide variety of global flavors ranging from Brazil to Thailand, it was Shatter, the creative dessert cocktail that got my attention.
Made of macadamia nut-infused rye, house coffee liqueur and tobacco flavored bitters, then garnished with CBD oil and a candied dollop of honey and sugar, perched atop the glass’ edge, this cocktail was not only creative in it’s ingredients, but also in its presentation–delivered to the table in a glass case, and smoking. But more importantly, it was one of the best craft cocktails I’ve ever had in Oklahoma City, or just about anywhere for that matter.
According to chefandrewblack.com, Grey Sweater will be a three-tiered tasting menu experience designed to highlight unique, global flavors and to give diners a peak into Chef Black’s newest creations and ideas.
Chef Andrew Black approaches cooking like he approaches life: with an artistic lens and enthusiasm. He’s a chef that’s all about challenging preconceptions of what food is. What he is doing really matches the elevation of the culinary arts in Oklahoma City, the concept’s representative said.
The opening of Grey Sweater, Culinary Edge’s final concept, has yet to be announced. But if the initial two concepts are of any indication, Grey Sweater is likely to be a completely different, yet complementary experience that you won’t soon forget.
All three concepts are located in the Maywood Building, at NE 4th and Walnut, in the Deep Deuce neighborhood of Downtown Oklahoma City. Free parking is available in the building’s parking garage, and the restaurants are connected to the garage by elevator.