December marks 30 years since The Metro first opened
Congratulations to Chris and Laveryl Lower of The Metro Wine Bar and Bistro, which turned 30 this month. To celebrate, the restaurant hosted special wine dinners with Ray and Jake Coursen of Elyse wine with a menu designed by chef Joseph Royer.
The Metro opened in December of 1988, shortly after founder Chris Lower and his wife Laveryl partnered with chef Kurt Fleischfresser at The Coach House.
The Lower-Fleishfresser partnership was just getting started. It would pave the way for a renaissance along the Western Avenue corridor from NW 23 Street to Wilshire Avenue. Concepts that would follow included the original Iguana Lounge, The Deep Fork Wood Grille, Earl’s Rib Palace, The Ground Floor Café, Portobello, and Irma’s Burger Shack to name a few.
After Lower and Fleischfresser broke up their restaurant group, The Coach House went to Fleischfresser and the Lowers kept The Metro.
“Most of the success of The Metro rests with my wife Laveryl,” Lower said. “She is the only one that’s been there since day one.”
An institution in the Nichols Hills area, The Metro was an instant success. Lower said there was a lot of excitement and anticipation when it opened thanks to the acclaim The Coach House had drawn.
“We were very busy right from the beginning,” Lower said.
Fleischfresser recalled running out of food on a couple of occasions that first week.
A great wine list and chef-driven menu have always been the hallmark of The Metro, but not far behind is the great service and elegant atmosphere. It’s also been home to some of the city’s finest chefs like Chad Willis, Rolyn Soberanis, and Chip Sears.
For many years, the restaurant benefitted from The Coach House Apprenticeship Program, which regularly rotated its young chefs through the kitchen of The Metro before and after graduation.
The Metro has long been a supporter of local artists with events like the annual Refreshing the Palette event in which local artists are commissioned to recreate wine labels on canvas. And don’t think 30 years has slowed down the drive for excellence. The Metro was recently named one of the top 100 restaurants in the country by OpenTable.com.
I sat down with Chris this week to talk about three decades in the business, and we’ll share that and more in the next episode of the “Community Table” podcast. We will also take a more detailed look at the legacy of The Metro in the Food issue of The OK come spring.
Meantime, if you’ve never been to The Metro, you should know it’s open for lunch and dinner and offers pitch-perfect food in an elegant setting that isn’t too fussy.
Pop the cork!
It's that moment when you realize you haven't made reservations for New Year's Eve!
What to do?
Just start calling around. Among the options are the “What are you Doing New Year’s Eve?” party at the Will Rogers Theatre, 4322 N Western Ave.
The black-tie event includes optional mid-century 50s-era appropriate dress is a step back in time to the elegant dinner and dance halls of the 1940s and 50s. The evening includes an elegant meal and live jazz.
Doors open at 8 p.m. with dinner beginning at 8:30. The evening also includes a nostalgic variety show with live singers, dancers and entertainers. The $125 ticket also buys entrance, dinner, valet service, a free glass of champagne with which to toast at midnight, and a trip into the photo booth to commemorate the evening.
For tickets, go here or call 604-3015.
You’re looking good Oklahoma, OK?
Last week, Food Network aired the episode of “Guy’s Grocery Games” in which chef Kevin Lee of Vast and Gogi Go won $20,000 but the network has more plans to help shine a light on the Oklahoma City food scene.
First, look for Lee to make another appearance on Triple-G, then don’t be surprise when you see chef Corey Harris and his wife Chanel of Off the Hook Seafood and More on a family-battle episode. Neither air date for those episodes have been released.
I’ve also been told by three other sources Food Network will be in town in January to film segments for a new competition show starring Tyler Florence.
All this following a year when Day One Concepts’ nonesuch was named best new restaurant of 2018 by Food and Wine, 84 Hospitality’s Empire Slice House was named Pizzeria of the Year by trade publication Pizza Today, David Bouska of the Butcher BBQ team won the overall title at the Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational.
Hideaway for the holidays
The holiday season brings Prime Rib Pizza back to Hideway Pizza with a new holiday pizza box, designed this year by Oklahoma artist Ashley Dawn. For the first time, Hideaway will be offering holiday versions of its reusable plastic cups to match the custom box.
The new design premiered last month is available at all 18 Hideaway Pizza restaurant locations in Oklahoma and Arkansas.
The Prime Rib Pizza, a winter fan favorite for the past four years, includes a garlic glaze, mozzarella, asiago cheese, prime rib beef, red bell peppers, red onions, feta cheese crumbles, and a horseradish sauce drizzle.
The Hideaway Holiday Box is the second in a series of exclusive, limited-time-only pizza boxes intended to provide an annual creative platform for local artists. Designed by Oklahoma City tattoo artist and illustrator Ashley Dawn, the 2018 “Happy Hideaways” box depicts company mascot Kahuna getting a bit of a shock on his Christmas vacation as he plugs in the lights around his globe-topped, pizza slice tree.
Comings and Goings
December’s end transitions us into 2019, which is a time when both new places tend to pop up and others call it quits.
Tamashii opened a second location today at 132 5th Street in Edmond. North is the direction of a lot of growth with both Gogi Go and Nashbird announcing new locations in the city for 2019.
Johnnie’s Charcoal Broiler opened its tenth location last week when they opened at 6825 SE 29th Street.
Social Deck and Dining has begun preview services so look for its imminent opening in the former Chae Modern Korean Restaurant space any day now.
On the other hand, we recently said goodbye to Sara Sara Cupcakes, and an Earl’s Rib Palace location in Moore, bringing that local chain from six locations to five.
Wheelhouse Pizza Kitchen shuttered after barely six months of operation on North May Avenue.
Nic's Place Diner and Lounge, 1116 N Robinson Ave., is among a handful of local restaurants open on Christmas Day. Owner Nic Nicholas will open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Christmas Day, serving special holiday fare.
For reservations, call 601-9234.
Outside of Nic's, choices are slim but not nonexistent. Hotel restaurants like Ember in the Renaissance Waterford, Café Cuvee in The Ambassador, Flint in The Colcord, E.S. Founders at Embassy Suites, and The Park Avenue Grill in the Skirvin Hilton will be open.
The usual round-the-clock national chain diners like Denny's and IHOP will be open as usual. Both Saltgrass Steak House locations will be open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Grand House will do its annual Christmas Day dim sum from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Golden Phoenix will also be open as restaurants in the Asian District often open on Christmas along with many other Asian restaurants around the city. Szechuan Bistro, 1010 W Memorial Rd., will operate its normal hours. Newcomer Kwan’s Kitchen, 3031 W Memorial Rd., will open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. with dim sum service until 3 p.m.
Some Sonic locations will open Christmas afternoon, check with individual stores.
This isn’t a comprehensive list. If you’re a restaurant owner who will be open on Christmas Day, give me a shout: email@example.com.