After a 35-year career working at luxury hotels and resorts up and down the East Coast, many chefs dream of owning a quiet little bistro in their hometown; few do. Wiry and energetic, Chef James Beck did. He’s brought the fresh, vibrant flavors of the Mediterranean to the 71st Street Corridor, offering a pleasant dining alternative to the area’s food courts and chains. “It’s upscale but not expensive,” says Beck, gazing lovingly at the Matisse-hued walls and draperies, “serious but affordable.” Dishes are rigorously prepared with an attention to detail; many are time-honored classics. Does Beck improve them? “Oh, you can’t improve on greatness,” Beck answers, “but I try to add my own spin.” In his Chicken Marsala, for example, the standard Marsala sauce is given depth and contrast by the addition of a sauce demi-glace. In the traditional Marseilles Bouillabaisse, everything is simmered together, but in Beck’s version, a stock is first prepared by boiling fish bones, leeks and bouquet garni, and then tomatoes, orange peel and spices are added to make a second stock; after that is reduced and strained, the fish is added, along with saffron-infused rice. The result is rich, unforgettable flavor. Beck’s gets its fish flown in from Hollywood, Fla. There are also seafood specials, two a day, each day something new and different. 6808 S. Memorial, #302, Tulsa.

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