The Deep Deuce district, once the heart of Oklahoma City’s African-American community in early 20th century, has been brought back to life.
Gone are the days when Northeast Second Street was filled with the syncopated rhythms of jazz pianos and saxophones. Today’s Deep Deuce has urban dwellers, businesses and chill-chic cafes. Along Walnut Street, nestled between two other of his tasty creations, chef Andrew Black presents … the Black Walnut.
The catalyst of Black Walnut began when Oklahoma City’s historic Skirvin Hotel re-opened and Black was brought in to man the kitchens.
“When I came to Oklahoma City and opened the Skirvin, I met Rudy [Khouri] the fifth day in town and we just clicked right away,” Black says of his Black Walnut co-collaborator. “We are like family now. At the Skirvin, I started a chef’s table on a plywood tabletop, and it got so popular I never looked back. All my customers said that I had to do this on a larger scale. It just took Rudy and I longer to get to this point.”
Black Walnut is one of three restaurant concepts under one roof. On either side is La Baguette Deep Deuce, a European-style cafe, and the Grey Sweater, a 52-seat, multi-course tasting menu space.
“To balance three restaurants under one roof,” Black says, “the concepts, flavors and ingredients have to be totally different. Black Walnut is food that people can associate with but at a different level … with a twist.”
This new restaurant has a modern vibe, well lit with a stylish décor. Everything – the interior, the exterior, the structure itself – was built from the ground up or created especially for the restaurant.
Black says he and his team laid out the choices on the menu by focusing on flavor profiles. Even the choosiest of diners can find something they like.
“Black Walnut is the place where you get thoughtful food … thoughtful in the sense that everything on the plate is meant to be there – our interpretation,” he says. “It tells you on our menu that the only rules that apply here are the flavors. We don’t separate the menu into appetizers and entrees; it’s separated into flavor profiles.”
For example, the sweet-and-savory category has offerings like charred rosemary bread and candied bacon, and lamb ribs with chimichurri and brown sugar glaze. The fresh-and-light portions include fried green tomatoes with burrata and avocado, and falafel cakes with celery root apple slaw.
For stick-to-your-ribs tasters, well … there are ribs, such as the English short ribs with hush puppies. There’s also the T-rex-sized tomahawk steak with macaroni and cheese off the casual-and-comforting list. Fresh branzino with saffron-raisin-lobster broth couscous and a cast iron strip with Peruvian potatoes are a couple of choices off the smoky-and-satisfying section.
The cocktail program at Black Walnut also takes you around the world … via the street.
“We wanted to create street cocktails from around the world,” Black says. “We picked a few countries [and] researched the country’s ingredients and what they were drinking on the street.”
Libations include baijiu (Chinese grain alcohol), oolong tea and Chinese five spice, or macadamia nut-infused whiskey and tobacco bitters for a spirited cocktail hour. If you want a care-free drink, there is one with rum, the liqueur Mandarine Napoleon and papaya or another devoted to beets.
Check out Black Walnut when you visit Deep Deuce, then make reservations for the Grey Sweater, and stop in at La Baguette for a sweet ride home.