Expanding the culinary map
Nonesuch Oklahoma City
“Could Nonesuch be the restaurant to put OKC on the national dining map?” asked Andrew Knowlton in Bon Appétit. I’m betting that it won’t, even though to me this 22-seat tasting-menu outpost is the best new restaurant in America. The three chefs, Colin Stringer, Paul Wang, and Jeremy Wolfe, are unknowns—young local guys who decided to cook in a style inspired by modern Nordic cuisine and do it without any PR push. But they can really cook. Their take on dan-dan noodles is “the kind of dish that follows you around for years,” the mushroom crepe filled with mint, lovage, sorrel, and nasturtium is “like eating your way through an ethereal herb garden,” and everything they serve “looks incredible on the plate.” I found the place thanks to the Instagram photos the chefs post, but even OKC diners haven’t yet discovered what they have in Nonesuch. Stringer “has a way with aging and cooking meats,” Wang “can pickle and ferment anything,” and “Wolfe is a dessert Jedi.” Together, they’re “three guys in a band, heads down, making beautiful music together.” Whether the world discovers them is beside the point. 803 N. Hudson Ave., (405) 601-9131
Three Blacksmiths Sperryville, Va.
Ambitious food can be found these days in the unlikeliest places, said Tom Sietsema in The Washington Post. In Sperryville, a town of 342 that acts as a gateway to Shenandoah National Park, John and Diane MacPherson have created a “dreamy environment” for a destination dinner. In a room with only 16 seats and just a single seating per night, every table feels like a chef’s table, and “little touches make big impressions.” The house-baked rye bread, veined with pecans, is presented atop local river stones, and the butter alone is superb. The MacPhersons and their two sous chefs take turns delivering the five courses from the open kitchen. A recent meal began with a scallop in saffron-colored coconut milk, followed by a ricotta-topped gazpacho, a mushroom pasta perfectly matched with an Oregon gamay noir, and finally duck breast—“seared to a crackle” and accompanied by snap peas, chard, and toasted farro. As diners linger over wineglasses, strangers become friends and Three Blacksmiths “feels like the dinner party you don’t want to leave.” 20 Main St., (540) 987-5105
Elda Biddeford, Maine
Along Maine’s coast, quiet little Biddeford “is giving nearby Portland some serious competition as a darling of food obsessives,” said Bill Addison in Eater.com. Bowman Brown is leading the way, because his Elda alone is “worth a journey.” Inspired by what’s grown or caught locally, Brown’s short menu freely mixes European and Japanese influences and “shows off all kinds of imagination.” Brown, who returned to New England after winning national acclaim in Utah, often intensifies flavors over fire, said Andrew Ross in the Portland Press Herald. He smokes fish bones before brewing them to create the foundation of a watercress soup swimming with cubes of raw black bass and sprouted wheat berries. For Elda’s signature dish, he barely cooks scrambled egg yolks in crab-and–Thai chili butter, then whisks the egg into a froth and serves it on picked crab meat. I didn’t expect he could pull off the dessert menu’s parsnip cake, but “it, like nearly everything at Elda, is magical.” 140 Main St., (207) 494-8365 ■