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Wholly Smoke

Smoke. on Cherry Street lives up to its name with wood-fired meats, innovative appetizers and a cigar room to relax after your meal.

Chef Erik Reynolds

Chef Erik Reynolds

As the saying goes, “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” And Smoke. on Cherry Street is no exception to that rule. I was under the impression that this was some sort of upscale barbecue joint but thankfully was proven wrong on a recent visit.

Not a bottle of sauce in sight. Instead, delicious meats cooked over a wood fire abound in the spot that was once home to Bourbon Street Café. Our server informed us that the grass-fed beef is raised on farms in southern Oklahoma and is hormone- and antibiotic-free.

As I write this, the state is under a burn ban, which means no lighting up in the back yard. Smoke thus becomes the perfect antidote.

The first inkling that I was going to love this place was when I eyed Manchego fritters and a crab-stuffed fried green tomato on the menu. Luckily, there were four of us, so I got to try a variety of dishes.

To start, we shared the Manchego fritters ($8), five crispy balls of gooey cheese, which arrived with two dipping sauces — a Spanish-style Romesco sauce and a sweet but savory green tomato jam. Both sauces were delicious and a superb foil to the creamy and rich fritters. The crab-stuffed fried green tomato ($13) was stunning. Chef Erik Reynolds takes a whole green tomato, hollows it out and stuffs the center with a creamy crab mixture. Then he takes the whole thing, dips it in buttermilk batter and deep-fries it. It is served with that same green tomato jam and a spicy, Tabasco-tinged aioli.

We opted to share a pair of salads before the meat course. The grilled romaine ($6) was earthy and smoky, just slightly charred and topped with shaved Manchego, croutons, tangy Caesar vinaigrette and a pickled white anchovy filet. My sister, Mary, enjoyed the classic steakhouse wedge ($6), given a twist with the use of butter leaf lettuce in place of the typical iceberg. Topped with grape tomatoes, house-smoked bacon and crumbled Maytag blue cheese, the salad came with a buttermilk ranch dressing, but she chose to add the Caesar vinaigrette instead.

And now on to the meat. Hanger steak, a lovely cut from the diaphragm of a steer that doesn’t often pop up on local menus, is my favorite cut. I opted for a simply seared hanger steak served with bacon and Tabasco-infused butter ($18), arugula, deconstructed guacamole and smoked olive oil. The meat was cooked perfectly medium-rare and had a great grilled flavor. My husband, Tate, chose the 6-ounce cut of prime beef tenderloin ($26), served with a smoked paprika béarnaise sauce, which was superbly tender but cooked a bit rare for his liking. The tenderloin is also available in a 12-ounce portion ($48). My brother-in-law, Bryan, enjoyed the Berkshire pork loin chop ($23), a thick bone-in chop served over scallion risotto, sprinkled with chopped pistachios and topped with a rich Cabernet demi-glace. Mary went for the fish special of the evening, a seared grouper served over spring pea risotto and roasted root vegetables. The delicate but flavorful broth served over it all brought the dish together, and the grouper was cooked perfectly.

Our server, Nic Ritter, also informed us that everything, including the ketchup, is made in house. The only exception is the vanilla ice cream, but there is a plan in the works to remedy that as well.

Smoke also wafts through the back of the space, but it is the smell of tobacco, not meat, that lures you into the cigar room. And the smell is minute, for the doors are hermetically sealed to keep the smoke out of the dining space.

Reynolds grasped a passion for cooking at a young age after spending summers with his grandparents in New England. He spent time in the kitchen with his grandmother and helped her tend her large garden. After pursuing a degree in restaurant management, he apprenticed under a renowned Sicilian chef, Vincent Giglia, bringing his food and cultural interests to a higher level. Reynolds’ 20-year career as an executive chef has seen him to the helm of a wide array of kitchens around the western United States, including Austin, Texas; Fort Collins, Colo.; and Evergreen, Colo. Reynolds also took home the People’s Choice award for his appetizer — crispy salmon with fennel salad and blood orange gastrique — at the recent Blank Canvas event, which benefits Youth Services. I was fortunate to be one of the judges of the evening and can attest that his award was duly earned.

Smoke offers local beers from both Marshall Brewing Co. in Tulsa and Oklahoma City’s Coop Ale Works.

SMOKE. on Cherry Street on Urbanspoon

                    

 

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