With its rollicking roster of sweet and savory crêpes, espresso, and creamy gelato, the recently opened Mod's Coffee & Crepes injects a much-needed shot of continental pancakery into downtown's throbbing lunch vein. Mod's crêpes are made to order, allowing diners to watch the thin batter metamorphosing into a delectably light meal-casing before it migrates southward down their esophagi. Though Mod's delights sweet teeth with classic crêperie concoctions of Nutella and banana ($4.50) or chocolate-covered strawberries and cream ($4.50), savory crêpes provide a hearty lunch in a light, airy wrapper. The club crêpe (ham, turkey bacon, brown mustard, tomatoes, mozzarella, $6.50) channels classic noontime fare, and the spicy turkey and cranberry crêpe ($6) recaptures the tryptophan-laden harvest feasts of youth. In addition to crêpes, Mod's also serves scintillating salads and soups, such as tomato basil and creamy mushroom brie (cup $3.50, bowl $6).
The Mantel Wine Bar & Bistro has something in common with San Francisco's Ritz Carlton, New Orleans's Emeril's, and New York's Tavern on the Green: its chefs were invited by Cornell University's Cross Country Gourmet series to recreate their restaurant experience in Ithaca, New York. There, thousands of people sampled their signature dishes and Oklahoma hospitality during the Cross Country Gourmet Extravaganza.
Oklahoma City residents, of course, get this European-inspired dining experience year round. At the Bricktown district location, guests partake of everything from wild-caught seafood that's flown in fresh daily to prime-grade steaks in an intimate and relaxed atmosphere. There's lunch service as well, with both traditional entrees and an upscale grilled cheese with smoked salmon, caramelized shallots, and fresh heirloom tomatoes, great for nostalgic grown ups and top-hat-wearing children. The friendly staff at flagship restaurant of the Deep Fork Group also offers knowledgeable advice on a selection of wines.
Lamenting the lack of European baked goods in the Norman community, the Jazzar and Khouri families united to open a bakery filled with flaky French pastries, three-layered Bavarian cakes, and freshly baked European breads. As La Baguette Bakery & Café's popularity grew, the families opened two more locations and began supplying their breads, desserts, and twirled moustaches to more than 200 hotels and restaurants. The Jazzars and Khouris also added a menu of lunch and dinner fare, purveying such café-style eats as quiche lorraine, croque monsieur, and italian pasta dishes.
D'Novo Lean Gourmet's chef Drew Flatt has managed to conjure a seasonally inspired menu of healthy, gourmet lunches and dinners without ever once tipping the 500-calorie scale. Stay in kangaroo prize-fighting form with a tasty salad such as the coconut-marinated chicken drizzled with an orange-basil vinaigrette atop a bed of crisp greens, macadamia nuts, mango, and red peppers ($10.95), or warm up chilly chitlins with a bowl of the black-bean soup, topped with Oaxaca cheese and cumin sour cream ($4.95). Dieting coworkers can keep grumbling bellies from breaking out into embarrassingly loud, profane tirades with hot and cold sandwiches and wraps, including the open-faced grilled bison burger ($10.95), the turkey taco burrito ($8.95), and the southwest chicken wrap ($8.95). As you luxuriate in D'Novo's chic white leather booths and crystalline chandeliers, indulge in a slice of lemon pound cake ($4.95) or two chocolate flourless cake ($4.95)—both of which sweetly prove that one can stay healthy without having to subsist entirely on stale rice cakes and still-life paintings of fruit bowls.
Chef and restaurateur Wolfgang Puck spent decades establishing himself as a household name, traveling around the world from his native Austria and winning everything from the James Beard Foundation's Award for Outstanding Chef to an Emmy for his self-titled TV series. Today, he oversees a culinary empire that stretches from Los Angeles to New York and embraces the rigorous demands of classical dining as well as casual elements of the bistro. Yet even with this diverse focus, each of Wolfgang Puck's eateries demonstrates a singular commitment to the chef's overarching culinary philosophy: supporting local farmers and using sustainably caught seafood, humanely raised animals, seasonal produce, and organic ingredients.
This philosophy steers the chefs at Wolfgang Puck Bistro, who refine interpretations of familiar American and international comfort foods. Barbecued rotisserie chicken and meatloaf feature elevated touches such as bacon and port-wine sauce, but stay faithful to their home-style flavors. Pizzas, meanwhile, cook to a golden-brown inside a wood-burning stone oven, and hand-cut rib-eye steaks wear a sauce of red wine and shallots.
The dining room's exposed ductwork and front wall of windows add a slightly modern flair to the bistro's ambiance, but the wood and earth tones keep the setting warm and inviting. In addition to the booths and tables scattered beneath track lighting and dangling pendant lamps, an outdoor patio lets diners enjoy their meals al fresco, which is French for blindfolded.
Wine and French cuisine go together like salt and pepper, but their pairing is a bit more complex than that. Fortunately, French Hen makes it easy. Glass-fronted racks filled with dozens of red and whites speak to the immense variety of potential culinary buddies that might keep a roasted lobster tail or USDA Prime steak company. Diners can either ask their server for recommendations to match any dish on the menu or attend special wine pairing dinners, where multiple courses feature their own expertly chosen Old World varietals. And in the tradition of fine French cooking, spirits pervade the dishes themselves. White wine infuses the sauce of the escargot, brandy adds a zip to the peppercorn cream drizzled over the signature grilled duck, and sherry colors the pasta beneath the seared diver scallops.
Such flavors build on the 30-year legacy that infuses every dim alcove, deep-blue tablecloth, and light-red wall within French Hen's dining room. But that legacy is too big to be so easily contained. It also spills out onto the outdoor patio, which Tulsa World's Scott Cherry noted for being "out of view from any street traffic." Amid that peace, single chrysanthemums dot each table, echoing the colors that inspired Monet to paint water lilies when he was supposed to be lifeguarding.