St. Mark’s Chop House

St. Mark’s Chop House

Written by Greg Elwell

Stylish Eats reviews are brought to you by Steven Giles Clothing, the menswear store for those with discerning taste. Style extends well beyond the confines of clothing, so Steven Giles is teaming up with I Ate Oklahoma to bring you reviews of eateries with a refined palate across the state.

Eating a meal with me making several concessions.

  1. We will 100% order too much food. Like a suspicious amount of food.
  2. Despite attempts to make conversation, I will spend a fair amount of time scribbling into a notebook.
  3. I’m there the entire time, which isn’t ideal for most people.
  4. The camera is coming out and it’s not going back in its case until I have a halfway decent picture of everything on the table.

The first three generally don’t bother the other patrons, but taking out a DSLR and standing at the table making vague grunts at every picture I take can get grating fast. And I was especially worried about it at St. Mark’s Chop Room.

Taking a bunch of pictures at Taco Bell will draw confused looks and creating a photo shoot at a casual sit-down restaurant might raise some eyebrows, but here’s the thing about St. Mark’s: there are only six tables.

I turned on my little ring light to get pictures of my steak and legitimately hoped none of the other guests would get up and try to take a swing at me.

Not that the clientele at this Nichols Hills steakhouse is prone to fisticuffs, but I don’t want to be the jackass messing up someone’s special night out.

Make no mistake: St. Mark’s Chop Room is absolutely a special night out, whether you’re celebrating something or not. There’s something very intimate about the sparsely decorated room. You cannot get away from anyone in the restaurant. At best you might hide around the corner of the bar, but everyone can hear everyone.

It’s not a loud restaurant or an uncomfortable one. It’s small. But that’s by design. It’s cozy, but it retains an air of sophistication.

Everything feels precise and thought out in a way many restaurants aren’t.

The Food

The prices at St. Mark’s demand thought, not just from the kitchen but on your part as well. They want everything to be worth your money as much as you do. So you should choose carefully and listen to your server.

Eleven times out of ten, your server is going to know exactly what you should order. Ask their advice and take it — and that goes for just about everywhere.

My friend Megan bravely threw herself on the Greg-shaped grenade and joined me for an evening of indulgent gluttony. She was there for the food. I wanted her there to avenge my death in case any of the other patrons got mad at me for meticulously documenting everything in photos.

Before ordering, our server brought out fresh popovers with butter and jam. I’m not terribly familiar with popovers, but the best description I can think of is like a very eggy dinner roll that you probably need to eat with a fork. Megan compared it to a savory bread pudding, but instead of being wet it was pliable.

“Don’t fill up on bread!” yells the voice in my head, well, sorry voice, but I love bread. I’ll fill up on bread all the live-long day, doo-dah, doo-dah. The jam was delightful, but I was more than content than to just drench the whole mess in butter.

Next came a plate of truffle-glazed wagyu beef bacon ($16) and I think it’s a good time to tell you about St. Mark’s beef.

Lots of steakhouses talk about getting prime beef, which means that the meat is in the top three percent of graded beef. (Not all beef is graded, however, and some producers have to pay to get meat graded, so there’s some pay-to-play involved in the system.) To get prime beef, restaurants source it from all over the country.

St. Mark’s gets their beef from one place: Iron Horse Ranch in Macomb, Oklahoma. It’s wagyu beef, which literally translates to “Japanese cow.” Wagyu are four breeds of Japanese cattle. It’s probably most famous because of Kobe beef, which comes from wagyu raised in Hyōgo Prefecture. We don’t need to get into the weeds here, but wagyu is a much sought after beef and, considering Jonathon Stranger is part of the team at St. Mark’s, you can be sure it’s locally and ethically raised.

Beef bacon, like pork bacon, comes from the belly. The marbling makes this fatty cut very juicy and tender. Honestly, if it had just been a plate of bacon, I probably would have been happy. I mean, I love bacon.

But the truffle-glazed beef bacon comes coated in a slightly sweet, umami-rich sauce along with a wedge of high-end bleu cheese and a peppery cocoa puree that had the texture of coffee grounds, but spread easily onto the bacon.

I know it’s my job to describe this to you, but my mind is going in every different direction because the flavor went everywhere. It’s a rollercoaster you want to stay on almost as much as you want to take every piece of it apart and figure out how it works. The cheese is tart and funky, but mellows quickly. The coca puree is spicy and sweet and dark and rich. The bacon has a gently chew to it — more substantial than carpaccio but not quite as sturdy as steak.

Megan and I did the polite dance in of constantly leaving a little bit more for each other, but when push came to shove, we both wanted that last nub of cheese and it quickly became clear she was prepared to cut a bitch.

We split a house salad ($12), which was described as all locally foraged. The base of the salad were microgreens tossed in a blackberry vinaigrette with thinly sliced pear, pickled egg, heirloom tomatoes and cheese. This is another instance where you’ll want to take it apart to taste every item separately and then combine them to find out what you like so much. For me, it was the peppery greens, the sweet-tart dressing and pear. The texture was phenomenal, crisp and tender, with a lovely fruity flourish.

“ARE YOU EVER GOING TO TALK ABOUT THE STEAKS?”

Easy, baby. Let’s not rush. Just like a great steak, this review is meant to be savored. Light a candle. Turn on some Enya. Let’s get romantic and discuss the importance of side dishes.

Okay, yes, it’s not a steakhouse without steak and St. Mark’s is definitely focused on the meat. But without great sides, even a top-notch steak can seem one note. So please, please, please do yourself a favor and order the roasted seasonal vegetables ($12).

A plate of Brussels sprouts, carrots and asparagus might not flip all your switches, but these were exceptionally done. The sprouts had a delicious crispy char. The heat opened these mini cabbages up and caramelized the sugars throughout to create a roasty salty treat. The carrots were…unbelievable. I’m not someone who gets effusive about carrots a lot, but good lord, great produce handled carefully and cooked minimally can be eye-opening good. Asparagus is always a joy, frankly, and these tender spears were full of that fresh green spring flavor balanced with roasted oil and gentle seasoning.

The rustic charms of the roasted vegetables balanced well with the bold punch of truffle parmesan pomme frites (aka fancy french fries). Delicately shredded parmesan and bits of greens decorated thin, crispy fries that I would have grabbed by the handful and shoved into my mouth in any other setting. The truffle oil is applied judiciously, thank goodness, which means you get a hint of it without getting completely overwhelmed with mushroom flavor.

For that, you should get the roasted maitake mushrooms, which are exactly what they sound like. Maitakes are commonly known as hen of the woods mushrooms and they are multi-chambered, giving them lots of surface area for roasting to have an effect.

You know how people say mushrooms taste meaty? I don’t always agree. But these tasted meaty as all get out.

Okay, let’s talk steaks. I had the 14-oz. ribeye ($48) cooked medium-rare. A ribeye is a fattier cut than just about any other steak I can think of, but that means a lot more flavor. It’s the beefiest of steaks and quite tender, thanks to all that fat that soaks into the meat as it cooks.

The crust was phenomenal, crisp and dark, but it easily gives way to the rich, red meat underneath. When I say this was the definition of medium-rare, I mean it was edge-to-edge perfection. And even when I got a particularly fatty bite, it wasn’t chewy — it just melted with each bite.

Megan got a 6-oz. tenderloin ($42) that was so tender it dated a girl for a year before giving her a chaste peck on the cheek. She got it rare, because she’s awesome and a little scary, and it was also cooked to the perfect temperature. The crust was flavorful, which is big on a filet. Tenderloins are exceedingly mild thanks to a very low fat content, but this was an all-around excellent steak.

These aren’t steaks that require a lot of sauce, but if you’d like to order one, let me recommend perigueux sauce ($7) made with Madeira wine and truffles. It’s rich and adds another savory, umami note to your meat. (It’s also pretty awesome for dipping pomme frites, in case you were wondering.)

For dessert, we shared the seasonal blueberry cobbler with ice cream and, despite being so full at this point it was basically a prequel to the scene in “Se7en” we could hardly stop eating this. The fruit was sweet, but balanced with a mild tartness. The creamy ice cream paired well with the crunch of the crust and granola scattered on top.

I think it’s perfectly okay to St. Mark’s for a glass (or bottle) of wine and a dessert. In fact, I’m kind of planning on it in the very near future.

Stylish Eats are sponsored by Steven Giles Clothing, a high-end men’s fashion store in Classen Curve providing expertly tailored suits, timeless casual wear and everything in between. Visit them online at stevengilesclothing.com to schedule a fitting or stop in at 5850 N. Classen Blvd. to browse their selection in person.

Read more of Greg’s reviews at http://iateoklahoma.com/reviews

It's only fair to share...Share on Facebook
Facebook
Share on Google+
Google+
Tweet about this on Twitter
Twitter
Share on LinkedIn
Linkedin

Quantity follows quality

Quantity follows quality

“By choosing quality first, we can build a wardrobe that covers all occasions without becoming cumbersome.”

Quantity follows quality.

It’s easy to feel the difference between a hand-worked, one of a kind garment and the sort of mass-produced clothes that seem destined to cover every conceivable shape without ever truly fitting.

“Part of what we do is curate a selection of clothes,” says Steven Giles. “With decades of experience comes a keen eye for both luxurious qualities and wear ability of fabric selections the nuances of better made and discernment of style that is both timely and timeless.”

Few of us can afford an entirely new wardrobe each season, but a well-dressed man doesn’t need a closet bursting with clothes he’ll only wear once. Buy slowly, carefully. Every garment that becomes a part of your collection should be something you want to wear for years to come.

“Over time, you will find that the essentials to your personal style stay true,” Giles says. “Investing in a piece that can be worn, washed, cared for and worn again makes sense.”

In a world that often seems utterly disposable, a well-made pair of pants, an impeccably tailored suit and a quality shirt will stay with you like old friends. They fit. They feel right. That’s a relationship worth any cost.

It's only fair to share...Share on Facebook
Facebook
Share on Google+
Google+
Tweet about this on Twitter
Twitter
Share on LinkedIn
Linkedin

Stella Modern Italian Cuisine

Stella Modern Italian Cuisine

Written by Greg Elwell

Stylish Eats reviews are brought to you by Steven Giles Clothing, the menswear store for those with discerning taste. Style extends well beyond the confines of clothing, so Steven Giles is teaming up with I Ate Oklahoma to bring you reviews of eateries with a refined palate across the state.

Before you ever set foot inside, Stella Modern Italian Cuisine makes a statement. Alongside some other buildings on North Walker Avenue, the restaurant seems to stand taller with a rounded entryway stacked high with layers of glass. Inside, guests are treated to a circular waiting area with a view of the pizza oven blazing away. Past curtains to the right and a hallway to the left, there are a few well-appointed dining rooms to accommodate parties big or small.

But when the weather is right, the best seat in the house is actually slightly outside the house. Stella recently installed a new patio area, replete with outdoor fireplace, and it’s a really lovely spot to enjoy Oklahoma City’s too-few spring days with a glass of wine.

Grilled lamb T-bone

There’s an easy elegance to Stella, or at least it looks easy. I’m sure owner Lori Burson puts serious work into making the restaurant as welcoming to those dressed for a night at the symphony as it is for schlubby food writers and their ilk.

It’s kind of cinematic, if that makes sense. Something about the way the light filters through the windows and the servers share conspiratorial smiles with patrons and the long, cool bar make it seem like you’re living in a movie…or at least in the background of one.

But whether or not the cameras are on, the star of the show is executive chef Melissa Aust’s menu. Time slows down when the server approaches the table, because you know you’re in for a treat.

Aust is definitely a believer that we eat first with our eyes, because she doesn’t let less-than-appetizing dishes escape her kitchen. Her palate is matched with her eye for color and design, ensuring the plates that are set in front of you will be as visually appealing as they are delicious.

The Food

The menu at Stella isn’t expansive, but fewer choices don’t exactly make it easier to choose. One luxury you can enjoy, at least, is the understanding that whatever you get, it’s going to be good.

As an appetizer, I can think of few I’d rather share (or keep to myself) than smoked salmon rillette ($14). The plate is like a lovely Italian picnic of lightly pickled vegetables, mizuno salad, toast points and a jar of salmon rillette.

Smoked salmon rillette

What is a rillette? I’m glad you asked! It’s similar to a pate in some ways, but instead of liver, it’s meat that’s slowly cooked in fat until it’s so tender it can be shredded. It basically becomes a textured pink paste, perfect for smearing on toast.

Everything on this plate is wonderful. The green beans, caper berries and red onions are tasty, but the carrots absolutely blow me away. Perfect texture. The pickling gives it a mild fruity sourness and the crunch is entirely satisfying. I’m kind of obsessed with those carrots. I keep checking Facebook to see if they’re in a relationship with anybody.

The roasted veggie pizza ($13) is another great meal for one or a starter for two or three. The crispy, crackery crust has a satisfying snap and pairs well with the gentle sweetness of the charred artichokes and onions and bell peppers.

Have you ever tried vegetables? I ask that semi-seriously, because there are a lot of people who don’t, as a rule, ever eat vegetables. Ease yourself into this bold new world of food with vegetable risotto ($12 at lunch/$18 at dinner).

Vegetable risotto

First thing you’re hit with is a serious pop of umami flavor — the rich taste usually associated with meat — followed by a gloriously mild green sweetness from sweet peas and asparagus. The slow-cooked rice releases its starch into the broth to create a creamy sauce that ties the dish together. Marscapone adds a salty burst that compliments the overall nuttiness of the risotto. It’s incredibly satisfying, but not heavy on the stomach.

Maybe it’s because of my toxic masculinity or because I was born without a soul, but I’ve never been particularly conflicted about eating cute animals. You don’t need to dress it up with “game” or “venison” or “mutton” for me. I’ll eat a deer. I’ll eat a lamb.

And I did eat a lamb at Stella. If the lamb T-bones ($32) trouble your conscience, that’ll end shortly after the first bite. The perfect fatty, juicy, meaty goodness of the lamb will push your worries to the baaack of your mind.

Kudos to Aust for this dish. The char is glorious and the blend of seasoning, including a touch of fennel in the vinaigrette on top, is perfection. There’s a lot going on there, but not in a “this is a jumbled mess” kind of way. It’s a lot of layers of flavor that are all pushing the dish in the right direction. Everything is distinct, but it works together.

The lamb is served atop a bed of red pepper quinoa. It’s mildly sweet and warm and hearty and it soaks up every bit of stray juice that escapes the T-bones.

Also, let’s talk about etiquette: If you don’t have the self-confidence to pick up this bone and strip all the meat off of it, you better take it home. I’m not a big believer in judgement, but wasting any little bit of this is definitely a sin.

Wild boar bolognese

New to the spring menu is wild boar bolognese ($14 lunch/$18 dinner) and I hope chef Aust can find a way to keep it around for a while. The pork has a soft sweetness to it and a touch of spice that I found comforting. The fettucine was tender and soaked up the herbaceous sauce for a beautiful bite.

For a more straightforward meatiness, the long-lived braised beef short rib pasta ($14 lunch/$22 dinner) is as tender as a sonnet written by a teddy bear about its favorite blanket. The rigatoni is a great base for the spicy pomodoro sauce and piles and piles of succulent fall apart beef. There’s a reason short rib is so beloved by chefs. It can become anything from pot roast to Korean barbecue to this deeply flavorful and complex beefy delight.

I’m going to tell you right now that you probably don’t have room for dessert. I didn’t. But you can’t let a little thing like being physically unable to move stop you from the Stella candy bar ($8).

The Stella candy bar

It will not look like a candy bar, I should warn you. There will be a long rectangle of chocolate ganache, but then there are swirls of peanut butter mousse and a scoop of sea salt and caramel gelato and crisp pieces of vanilla honeycomb. Mix and match as you please, but here’s the upshot — it’s like eating the most decadent Snickers bar ever. Share this with someone. Do not try to take it on yourself. Grab your half-elf and your mage and roll a 20 and just hope you can handle this level of richness.

Burson has built a stellar restaurant in Stella and under the inspired hand of Aust, this has become a must-visit spot in Midtown and all of Oklahoma City.

Stylish Eats are sponsored by Steven Giles Clothing, a high-end men’s fashion store in Classen Curve providing expertly tailored suits, timeless casual wear and everything in between. Visit them online at stevengilesclothing.com to schedule a fitting or stop in at 5850 N. Classen Blvd. to browse their selection in person.

Read more of Greg’s reviews at http://iateoklahoma.com/reviews

It's only fair to share...Share on Facebook
Facebook
Share on Google+
Google+
Tweet about this on Twitter
Twitter
Share on LinkedIn
Linkedin