Is The Drake the Goodest Egg So Far?
With the opening of The Drake Seafood and Oysterette, Keith and Heather Paul’s mastery of the restaurant business has become conspicuous.
The principals behind A Good Egg Dining Group, they began with Cheever’s Cafe. They purchased the former home of Cheever’s Flowers and turned it into an upscale neighborhood restaurant that is one of the city’s toughest places to find a seat on the weekends. From there, they added Iron Star Urban BBQ, Red Primesteak, Republic Gastropub and Tucker’s Onion Burgers.
Each concept seemed to build in stature on the last.
Then came Kitchen No. 324, which appeared a quantum leap in style, flavors and execution. As good as the food and successful as the preceding concepts were, Kitchen 324 was truly inspired: Fresh-baked bread and pastries, curated coffee program, the best pecan pie in town and a menu that offers simple and eclectic pleasures. Add sun-friendly interior founded on white, iron and glass, and Kitchen 324 has evolved into one of downtown’s top spots for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
It appeared A Good Egg Dining Group didn’t have much more to prove, because it didn’t.
But now comes The Drake, 519 NW 23, Suite 111, and Oklahoma City’s dining scene is forever changed for the better.
In two trips I have tried Hiramasa Crudo and Seared Hiramasa, Grilled and Chilled Shrimp, Calamari, the BLT Salad, the Shaved Celery Salad, more varieties of oyster than I've ever eaten collectively, Macaroni and Cheese colored with squid ink, the finest Linguini and Clams I've ever had, maybe because it included minced Spanish chorizo, and a Wagyu skirt steak just because. All have been exemplary, some inspired. The potential is as profound as any place that's opened in the last ten years.
The Pauls have a pretty simple approach, research heavily, hire the best people and let them execute. The good news for them is, they are two of the best at what they do, too. With the collection of culinary and operations talent they've accumulated, it really does make failing difficult. But it takes a lot of work and attention to detail to create something that raises the bar, and that's what A Good Egg Dining has done with The Drake. While some exciting additions make a splash only to fade back into the pack, The Drake is well positioned to not only sustain their dynamite start but build on and fortify it. Drake executive chef Chad Willis has built an impeccable reputation as a first-rate cook since he graduated from The Coach House Apprenticeship Program, most notably with a nine-year stint at The Metro Wine Bar and Bistro followed by stops at Saturn Grill and The George Prime Steakhouse. At some point, chefs Robert Black and Chris McCabe will turn Willis loose to add a fresh-catch board for the final flourish to the initial menu.
I have much more to share about The Drake, but more, um, research is needed before I deliver a full report. In the meantime, check it out. And the good news is, if it’s too crowded, Pizzeria Gusto and The Pump Bar are next door. In the meantime, let me know what you think.