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Nonesuch

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.

During my most recent meal at Nonesuch, I turned to my dinner date and said, “I’m not sure if this is a restaurant.”

It is, of course. There are seats and there’s a long, U-shaped table, and there are chefs and plates and silverware and food and wine and you have to pay. 

It’s a restaurant, but it’s also not the usual the kind of restaurant. Nonesuch isn’t a place you go on a whim. With ticket prices at $110 each (add $60 or $80 per person for wine pairings), most of us cannot pop in at the spur of the moment. And even if we could, there’s the small matter of getting seats. While Nonesuch doesn’t sell out months beforehand like it used to, there are still a limited number of seats per night and you must purchase your tickets in advance—the preparation and quality of the food demand it. 

I also feel weird calling the dishes at Nonesuch a “meal.” It is edible, nutritious food, certainly, and it is filling—but don’t expect leftovers. And it’s not as if you order anything other than another glass of wine, if you so choose, because everything is planned out for you by the staff before you arrive. 

Brassica with vegetable demi glace

While you may crave certain bites after the fact, you can’t go back and order them, because you don’t order anything. You buy a ticket and you take the ride.

It is ultimately futile to try to classify Nonesuch, because it is its own, beautiful, weird, wonderful little slice of Oklahoma. It’s not for everybody. It’s probably not for most people. But it’s for me. Boy howdy, is it directly up my culinary alley. And while we’ll talk a little about specific dishes, this isn’t going to be that kind of review, because Nonesuch isn’t that kind of restaurant. 

Instead, I want to tell you about what it’s like to sit on those stools and why it’s an experience I try to relive as often as possible.

The Experience

First things first, you head to exploretock.com/nonesuch on your Internet device and you figure out when you’d like to go. Nonesuch is open Wednesday through Saturday each week with seatings starting at 5:30 p.m. all the way through 9 p.m. Once you’ve found your day and time, you can add a wine pairing if you want, or a non-alcoholic drink pairing, spring water, or nothing. A wine pairing adds a lot to the experience, but it’s still amazing without the wine—I’m not going to pretend $60 or $80 added onto the price isn’t a lot for me, but your mileage may vary. 

Cauliflower and leek tart

Once it’s booked…you wait. I found myself glancing at my calendar again and again in the days leading up to it, eager to make sure I didn’t somehow screw up the time or whatever. 

When the big day finally arrives, you can dress just about however you want. Nonesuch is there to impress you with food, not be impressed by your outfit. Walk in, check in with whoever is working the door, and they’ll take you to your seats. 

As the courses are prepared, whichever chef made it will serve it to you and tell you about the dish. Other than the eating, this is my favorite part. This is what Nonesuch is about. They could stay back in the kitchen, sending out increasing esoteric dishes with hard-to-follow instructions for eating—“Gently rub the emulsified carrot marshmallow against your back teeth without chewing while sniffing the pine-infused tea, which you should not drink.”—but they don’t. They explain everything to you. All the ingredients, including where they come from. How they prepared it and why. Sometimes there are eating instructions, but they’re not very weird. They just want to make sure you enjoy everything to the fullest.

Tea-smoked root vegetable with pecan cream

I think I would have a nervous breakdown working at Nonesuch. I think the pressure of being “The Best New Restaurant in America” is insane in a normal restaurant, but in a tasting menu joint in Oklahoma City, where they’ve dedicated themselves to hyper-local, hyper-seasonal foods with a menu that changes regularly…I don’t know how they do it. But more than that, I don’t know how they’ve kept their sense of whimsy.

Because that is something that’s lost in the all the hubbub: Nonesuch is fun. When the first course came out, with lots of tiny plates and lots of tiny bites, it was introduced as the “Snack Attack.” And it lived up to the name, with five types of insanely intricate foods to be eaten in one or two bites. Haute cuisine snacking. It’s…moving.

I straight up ate one of these sugar cubes

One of the last times I’d eaten at Nonesuch, it was with an old friend who had just returned from a decade in Europe. She cried as she ate. Tears of joy. A well of emotion so full at what had become of her old home while she was abroad that she couldn’t help but let the tears flow. 

This time (and, frankly, every time), I giggled. I was giddy with the prospect of tasting bison tartare with sweet potato crisp. I snickered over the beet cake with seasoned toma. The skill they put into making these snacks, the evident joy sitting in front of you as the chef gleefully explains what they’ve made—how can you not let that feeling wash over you?

Barbecued quail with grilled greens

Here are a few other notes from the night: 

The tomato with bison broth was light and sweet and I wish it came by the bucket. 

The brassica with vegetable demi glace was gorgeous and the demi glace gravy was ridiculously beefy for something that has no meat in it at all. 

I never showed him a weapon, but I basically held Jeremy Wolfe up at butterknifepoint to get an extra sweet potato roll. If only I was more menacing, so I could get more toasted wheatberry butter.

When they served the warm spicy melon tea, they gave us cups with just homemade spicy sugar cubes and we ate those before they came back to pour the tea. I am not sure who was more embarrassed, but I think it was me. 

Tea-smoked root vegetables with pecan cream convinced me that everything needs to be smoked with tea. 

Barbecued quail > barbecued chicken and it’s not even close.

Bison tartare sweet potato crisp

I told you this wasn’t going to be a typical review, but Nonesuch isn’t a typical restaurant and I don’t know that there’s any “typical” experience there. But if you love food and you love challenging your palate and you love being surprised and delighted, then a trip to Nonesuch should be in your future. I’m planning my next visit now.

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.

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Cloth of a Different Weave

Fiber, the smallest unit of cloth visible, is either a staple fiber (a short measurable length) or a filament fiber (a continuous length).  Fibers are natural or can be man-made.  Natural fibers are protein (meaning they come from animals) and cellulose (meaning they come from plants).  Man-made fibers are regenerated cellulose, today mostly purified wood pulp (rayon and acetate) and non cellulose, a petroleum product (nylon and polyester).  Natural protein fibers, wool come from the gathered or shorn hair of animals…alpaca, camel, cashmere, goat vicuna, angora.  Silk, on the other hand, is collected from the secretions of the silkworm. 

Fibers by themselves are not much use in making fabric.  They must be combined into strands then spun into yarn.  Yarns may be used singularly or twisted together as plied yarns.  Twist in a yarn will influence the fabric hand, absorbency, elasticity, luster and strength.  The spinning process first begins with carding…a process that cleans the fiber.  Following is combing (cotton), worsted (woolens) processes to straighten fibers to a uniform standard and to cull out the shorter fibers.  These processes are labor intensive but create a refined tighter construction for a higher-grade yarn.  Finally, the spinning process of which several systems are used (bobbins, spindles, cops, tubes, cheeses,etc.) to determine yarn size and ultimately thread count determining the density and quality of the fabric to be produced.  Fabric is formed by non-woven knitting and woven processes including a finishing process necessary to most fabrics before considered the finest of fabrics available to be used in clothing products.

Non-woven knitted fabrics share dozens of common processes, but all share one characteristic to differentiate them from woven…they each have just one set of yarns looping together to create the fabric.  Knits are not as strong as a woven, but they have more stretch.  The earliest knitting process dates to (A.D.250) a hand process until 1589, when Reverend Henry Lee invented the flat bed knitting machine.  Many knitted products are considered heirloom pieces, works of art…timeless styles, Argyle, Intarsia, Fairisle, Shaker, Fisherman and Cable knits.  Always everlasting favorites.   

Plain woven fabrics, on the other hand, have two sets of yarns interlacing at right angles.  Woven on a machine called a loom…warp (a single yarn is called an end), held under tension from the back of the loom to the front.  Weft (a single yarn is called a pick), filling yarns carried back and forth across the loom via a shuttle interlacing with the warp.  Unlike the many knit variations, weaves are few, three basic weaves. 

Plain weaves, the simplest fastest production and as such, most common, used in 80% of all woven fabrics.  Particularly shirting’s (Broadcloth, Chambray, Madras, End on End, Linen) and lighter weight clothing fabrics (Crepe, Poplin, Seersucker, wool worsted). 

Basket weaves, a simple variation of the plain weave…two or more yarns going the warp length and the weft width rather than one as in the plain weave (Oxford Cloth, Hopsacking and Repps).  Repp weaves are most often used for necktie production.

Twill weaves, the second most common of the three weaves, are characterized by pronounced diagonals on the fabric face.  Sturdy fabrics originated in Northern Europe for durability and warmth (Covert, Calvary Twill, Denim, Drill cloth, Tweed, Gabardine).  For variations in the weave, the direction of the diagonal is changed, creating patterns such as Herringbone, Houndstooth, Shepherd and District checks Glen plaid, common plaid, Windowpane, Tattersall and more.

Plain weave with a Satin finish originated in countries that trade in silk fibers.  Woven with a minimum number of staggered interlacing, the face of the fabric has more warp and weft than the back creating a smooth reflective surface (Blazer, Suede cloth, Chino). 

Plain weave with miscellaneous Dobby effects refer to fabrics with small woven figures, dots, geometric patterns and floral raised from the surface of the cloth.  Woven by an automated Dobby loom today, originally the hand loom relied on a “Dobby boy” who sat on the top of the loom and, by hand raised warp threads to form a pattern.

Plain weaves with a filling pile created by floating extra picks on the surface cut in and out of the loom to form tufts of pile.  When cut the pile appears in a row (wale).  Fabrics include velvet and corduroy.

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Artful Printing

Artful Printing

For the many years man has been making fabrics, he too has
been dyeing fabrics.  The process,
relatively simple, depending on the method, and over the years hundreds of
methods have been developed.  Each one
solving a need or bettering the first.

As such, so too has printing.  Think of printing as localized dyeing.  Designs are applied to a fabric through
varied printing processes.  Printing most
common to Steven Giles selections are:

BLOCK PRINTING is the oldest form.  Designs are carved into wooden, linoleum or
copper blocks, and separate blocks made for each color in the design.  This hand blocked (printed) operation is very
tedious, production is very low, cost tend to be rather high.  But the finished product is truly an artisan
quality.

DISCHARGE PRINTING is used to print medium to dark colored
fabrics with white or colored design. 
After the fabric has been piece dyed, the color in specific areas is
bleached out removing the ground color. 
The fabric is then direct-printed with the design.  Any design and color can be used; however the
bleach process may weaken the fabric.

DIRECT PRINTING (roller calender or cylinder) is a process
where white ground fabrics are fed into a machine to pass through color rollers
etched with the design.  This process is
the same way common for newspaper printing. 
The design is somewhat limited to traditional patterns and a relatively
small repeat size.  

DIGITAL PRINTING for textiles started in the late 1980’s as
a possible replacement for screen printing.  
Described as any ink jet-based method of printing designs and color on
fabric.  Design is processed by a
computer, and then printed directly on to the fabric.  Digital, while improving, is yet to replicate
the depth of color provided by older methods, and economies currently favor
other forms of printing for larger minimums, however small runs are relatively
cheaper with digital.

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The Jones Assembly

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.

High style doesn’t mean constantly wearing a tuxedo, as I learned the hard way at a Denny’s recently. To paraphrase the Patron Saint of #StylishEats, Steven Giles, style means being dressed to the occasion and, in some cases, transcending it.

Which is why we’re exploring a new, but no-less-stylish, spot at The Jones Assembly.

You won’t find a lot of double-breasted three-piece suits, but it’s not at all uncommon to find guests in cocktail dresses and sports coats, whether they’re there to dine or enjoy live music.  

Fried okra

I was lucky enough to catch Spoon playing there last year and a quick look around the room had me rethinking my concert gear (it was a tuxedo again). What I’m saying is, if you like seeing and being seen, The Jones Assembly is a prime spot.

That said, one thing I love about The Jones is there is substance beyond the style. It’s not just a posh venue/restaurant/bar. Everything looks amazing on the surface and then when you dig in, you’ll find that everything remains amazing. The food, the service, the insanely creative cocktail menu: it’s all clicking.

And that’s why you see well-dressed people at The Jones–they’re seeking a dining experience that’s just as dialed in as their wardrobes are.

The Food

Fried okra is not for everybody because idiots exist. Sorry, folks. If you don’t like fried okra, there is something wrong with you and I’m afraid prayer might not be the answer. And I don’t care if it’s fried after being poured from a frozen bag of okra, either. Fried okra is good. Full stop.

Which isn’t to say all okras are created equal. Some places do it better than others (cough cough Back Door BBQ cough Lip Smackers cough) and The Jones is one of those places. The chefs here fry whole mini okra in a thin, crispy cornmeal batter and serve dozens of them up alongside some Jones Sauce, which is…pink. Kind of tangy. I’m not 100 percent sure what it is I ate, now that I think of it, and I’m 100 percent okay with it, given the results.

Right alongside fried okra are deviled eggs ($9), which it’s only acceptable to avoid if you’re allergic to eggs and/or vegan. And even the vegan thing is kind of a stretch here. I actually got these for lunch one day and sat near a table of people who just stared at me with envy in their hearts as I plowed through an entire order.

Octopus

Deviled eggs aren’t hard to make, nor are they hard to make well. They are, however, a complete pain. You need set whites and creamy yolks and lots of stuff to punch up the flavor when you mix it into the yolks. They cannot be slimy. The whites cannot be cracked. The yolks cannot be crumbly. These are the platonic ideal of deviled eggs, with lots of dill and a pop of pickled red onion. Eat them and rejoice.

Just when you’re feeling safe, they bring out the octopus ($16). I have had good and bad octopus in my time, but I’ve never had it like they do at The Jones, where it’s almost served like buffalo wings in a lovely Thai chili glaze in a bowl with a citrus-y, minty labneh sauce (it’s like Greek cream cheese).

The texture is firm, with a little chew, but it’s not like eating jerky. I love it. I’m sure they could do it with some other protein than octopus, but why mess with a winner?

Hot Rod

Now, let’s turn around and ignore everything I just said, because The Jones loves messing with a winner. The Hot Rod pizza ($16), for instance, is completely insane. It starts off like a slightly spicy meat-lover’s pie before getting straight up weird.

Pepperoni? Check. Mozzarella? Duh. Caramelized onions? Sounds good. Habanero pork sausage? Fresno and jalapeno peppers? Spicy pork rinds and hot honey? This thing went all the way off the rails and I dig it.

Don’t expect an insurmountable mountain of heat. The onions and the honey keep things from falling over the edge into parody. Everything else, weird as it sounds, just works. I think you should crush the chicharones and sprinkle them all over the pizza to ensure you get a little in every bite. The crust is chewy. The sauce is sizzling. All of the cheese and meats and honey…it’s a cacophony of flavors that somehow work together. I love it.

Cacio e pepe

Cacio e pepe is $12 and you get an enormous bowl of it and I work HARD not to order it every single time.

Maybe you like spaghetti (get the sugo for $18) or maybe you like fettuccine alfredo, but when it comes to classic Italian dishes, you just can’t beat cacio e pepe, which literally translates to cheese and pepper. It’s an ultra simple dish that is ultra satisfying. I love the cacio at The Pritchard and Patrono and now at The Jones. Much like pho, I’m sure we could discuss whose is better until we’re ready for another bowl of pasta covered in cheese, but I’m pretty happy just enjoying all of them.

Scallops

For an all-out assault on your taste buds, in the best possible way, nobody expects the Spanish Inquisi– oh, sorry, I mean the Spanish creamed corn ($8). It’s sweet corn in a lovely sauce of spicy paprika and piquillo pepper and it’s got a pop to it you won’t believe. The tart piquillo is a good balance with the mild sweetness of the corn and it allows the smoky heat of the paprika to crawl across your tongue. Texturally and flavor-wise, it’s one you must try.

Shoutout to Chef Kevin Lee, who you might remember from being on TV and opening Gogi Go and being executive chef at Vast, etc. etc. No big deal. He’s, like, a pretty okay cook.

Anywho, Lee recently became culinary director of The Social Order (the restaurant group that owns The Jones) and our server clued us in on the changes he’d made to the scallops ($26), which were divine. Big, juicy, firm, clean as a whistle and seared to perfection over a cauliflower puree that was loaded with buttery goodness and paired with seared Brussels sprouts. You get one of these, Kev:

And if you’re someone who enjoys the occasional alcoholic beverage (or just excellent puns) the Juice Box Hero tastes wonderful and it’s served in a juice box and I love it. I couldn’t handle more than one, but I loved it. Roasted apples, fall spices and dark rum? There’s nothing there that isn’t wonderful.

And that’s more and more how I’m feeling about The Jones Assembly. This restaurant is a great place to people watch and be watched by people, but even if you’re a shy and retiring type like me, the food is good enough to coax even curmudgeons like us into the open.

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.

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Behind the Scenes “A Renaissance Personified II”

Behind the scenes, enjoying the exceptional work of Charlie Neuenschwander photography.  A special thank you to Mr. and Mrs. Brian Henson for the use of their beautiful home and to our good friend Mr. Monte Turrentine (Legacy Cleaners), always a most pleasant addition to the fun.  Most importantly, our gratitude to long time friend, Mr. Stanley Stoner.  A gentleman’s style to be modeled.  Stan…the very personification of character and joy!

 

 

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A Renaissance Personified II

Written by Greg Elwell

The measure of a man’s confidence isn’t in his appearance, but appearance is a good indicator of confidence.

Stan Stoner is a man who knows the importance of looking his best.  From his days as a Drill Sergeant in the U.S. Army to his 50-year career leading his own advertising agency and into retirement, Stoner said he has learned the value of dressing well.  Being a natty dresser was an asset in the boardroom — a secret weapon that projects confidence in a business that demands it.  There’s a mental edge that comes from walking into a room and knowing you look excellent. When the mind isn’t preoccupied worrying about appearances, it allows one to reach a deeper level of concentration.

“That extends to every facet of life,” he said.  “Casual wear doesn’t have to be sloppy.  It can accentuate the person, so when I step through the door I feel like the best-looking guy in the room, even if I’m not,” he said.

Stoner’s secret isn’t much of a secret:  It’s Steven Giles Clothing.  “When running my ad agency, I wore a suit or sport coat almost every day and almost everyone I bought from Steve,” Stoner said. That’s because of the one-two punch of personal service and Giles’ eye for style.

“He’s very good at presenting clothing that fits you; not just your body, but your personality,” he said. “Steve knows what I like, and he knows what looks good on me.  If he tells me something looks good on me, I trust him.”

An avid fly-fisherman, Stoner said, “if Steven Giles carried hip waders, he would buy those, too.” But when he left the streams for evenings in Cuba, Belize, the Bahamas and all around the world, his evening wear came from Steven Giles Clothing.  “Whether I’m hunting or salt-water fly fishing or on safari, I want clothes that are appropriate,” the Enid resident said.  “And nobody knows how to dress me like Steve.”

For years, he has built a relationship with Giles based on the shop’s commitment to high-quality pieces and a keen eye for timeless fashion.  It kept him coming back throughout his career and it’s a secret he was happy to share with others.  As a mentor, Stoner has sent many colleagues to Steven Giles Clothing with a simple recommendation: trust the staff.  “Everybody wants to look good, but most people wouldn’t know where to go to find clothes of high fashion that really fit them,” he said.  “Steve has built his reputation and his following through years of work.  He knows you. He knows how you want to look.”

In retirement, Stoner stays committed to looking his best, not because he’s trying to impress anyone, but because looking good is the ultimate sign of respect. And after 53 years of marriage, his lovely wife Bobbie isn’t about to let him dress in anything less than the best.

Photography by:  Charlie Neuenschwander