The Best Things I Ate at The Den at Nonesuch

6 minutes

Call me a jealous coworker, but hearing my colleagues regale me with stories of past experiences at Nonesuch—the powerhouse Oklahoma City tasting menu concept named Bon Appétit’s Best New Restaurant in 2018—was simultaneously thrilling and a downer due to the feeling of not truly knowing the source of their delight. So when I recently had the opportunity to partake in Nonesuch’s new concept The Den, something no one else in the office has had a chance to try yet, you know I jumped at the chance.

The Den can be found in an adjacent room to Nonesuch. The former private dining chamber is now a six-seat spinoff experience where diners can learn more about Nonesuch’s fermentation and grain milling processes and sample experimental dishes. Walk-ins are also welcome inside for cocktails and light snacks. This is a development that comes after the recent acquisition of Nonesuch by the renowned Colorado-based restaurant group Id Est.

Chef Garrett Hare and General Manager Chad Luman recently dazzled a small group of diners, myself included. We enjoyed more than a dozen small- and medium-sized plates throughout the course of the night, but below is a short list of the five best and most memorable dishes of the evening:

Standing out on the opening snack course menu—a radiant assortment of bites that primarily serves as a warmup for the even more complex flavors to come—was a hefty slice of milk toast paved in a vibrant liver mousse. The delicately arranged appetizer looked like something an ethereal being would be snacking on in a Studio Ghibli film, and it took a moment to remember I was allowed to actually eat it. The pink, river mousse served well atop the bread’s supple interior and really stood out in bites that included the chewy, resilient crust.

I’m not ashamed to admit the complexity of the beet course defies my ability for categorical identification, but boy was it special! Tender, golden beet wedges rest under a thatched roof of sorrel in a magenta pool of liquid containing buttermilk, mezcal, and other notes of flavor. It’s at once earthy and sweet, with the mezcal’s slight burn at the end.

The consensus star of the evening immediately followed the beets: A chawanmushi egg custard that will live on in my dreams for a long time to come. There was buttery warmth in every bite, enhanced with a fish roe and green pea topper. Comfort was found in every spoonful, and if they brought the mixing bowl out from the kitchen I might have volunteered to lick it clean.

The meat course of the night was apparently a last minute swap due to the planned bison being unavailable. The pork tenderloin from Urban Agrarian we were ultimately served certainly did not taste like any lesser option, especially not in its coat of yellow au poivre. An accompaniment of glazed carrots in chunky salsa verde and roasted potatoes in a decadent cream sauce made the entire course feel like a ballroom dance with Julia Child in the very best sense. This round of dishes also quelled any misguided notion that diners would be going home hungry tonight.

Don’t sit down for a Nonesuch dinner with normal dessert expectations; you can have that Oreo deluxe raspberry cheesecake at another time and place. Our experience was capped off with a lemongrass and pea shoot ice cream dish that was nearly as herb-y as it was sweet. When paired with the liquid honey flavor of the paired Hungarian tokaji dessert wine, The Den sticks the landing on what will likely go down as one of the most memorable dining experiences of my life.

As someone who was sitting for a Nonesuch dinner for the first time, I am obviously not the go-to source for comparing The Den experience to what is going on in the main room. I can say that I had a marvelous time though, and am pining to return. The fact that The Den gives walk-ins some access and sits the meal patrons right behind a cozy bar opens a potential whole new audience to their dining splendor. If the chance to experiment with flavor combinations in smaller batches leads to exciting new refinements, then one would have to say The Den is a win all the way around.

The Den is now taking reservations for their June menu, which begin at $85 per person. Book now on their website.

Get There
Nonesuch, 803 N Hudson Oklahoma City, OK 73102 or TravelOK.com
Written By
Ben Luschen

Luschen joined the *Oklahoma Today*’ staff as Research Editor in 2021 and currently works as the magazine's Web Editor, managing the website and social media fronts. His past *Oklahoma Today* stories have ranged in content from the state's bee and quail industries to its vibrant art and music scenes. Not adverse to a road trip, Luschen is always on the lookout for the next big adventure. He is never out of opinions about the current state of Oklahoma City Thunder basketball.

Ben Luschen
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