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Chefs di Domani

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Chefs do not hatch from space eggs, although that’s not a bad idea for a movie. They are not sculpted from clay by the gods of Mount Flavor. They are mere mortals. They have to learn. They have to practice. Some of them do that at Chefs di Domani at Platt College Wednesday through Friday.

Chef instructor Jonathan Groth used to be in advertising until he realized it wasn’t the life he wanted. Where was the passion he felt in the kitchen? Well … it was in the kitchen. And now he’s teaching new generations of chefs how to create (and consistently re-create) great dishes.

The menu at Chefs di Domani changes with the seasons, and the new winter menu is a winner. I started with a deconstructed Caesar salad ($7) that had wonderful flavor. It’s the kind of dish I’ve heard people talk about, but rarely seen in Oklahoma City. While I’m not ready to give up the version done by Junior’s, I was plenty happy with the rendition the students prepared.

right the tomato bisque soup and salmon

I was equally enchanted by the tomato bisque ($2 cup, $4 bowl), which started with a strong tomato flavor, eased into a creamy middle and was punctuated by the splendid sting of basil-infused oil. I could easily have downed three bowls and taken a Thermos to go.

The buttermilk-fried quail ($7) and the shrimp and grits ($8) were a bit of a letdown: They were kind of boring. The quail had the crunch, but lacked that hint of spice that could energize the dish. I was actually more excited about the side dish of sautéed Swiss chard that came with it. The shrimp was cooked perfectly, although the grits were too creamy for my tastes; your mileage may vary. It came off a bit bland.

The next two dishes were better.

The pistachio-crusted salmon ($11) had a full salmon flavor. That may sound odd, but I get a lot of salmon that tastes so mild, it might as well be shark. The crust adds a touch of sweetness and the beurre rouge gives it a creamy finish.

The whipped potatoes were wonderful, as well — not gluey, like some.

And
can you blame me for loving the steak? The grilled New York strip ($14)
is served with a marrow-red wine and butter sauce mixed with bread
crumbs — a new texture combination for me. Lots of flavor added to the
steak, which was tender and sliced on a bias. The glazed Brussels
sprouts on the side were better than most I’ve had, although I wish the
roasted beets had been seasoned a little more.

There
were some swings and misses, but overall, I quite enjoyed Chefs di
Domani. The prices are pretty low, considering the quality of the food,
but that’s because you’re catching aspiring chefs on the way up.
Frankly, if the food is this good now, I’m kind of eager to see what
they’ll be doing when they graduate.

Oklahoma
Gazette’s restaurant review policy is to highlight the positive
aspects, and include constructive criticism regarding food, ambience or
service when appropriate.

Photo by Shannon Cornman

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