This past weekend, I was given the treat of trying out the new fancy schmancy restaurant called District 21 at Francis Tuttle School of the Culinary Arts. Tuesday night, June 18th, District 21 opened its doors to you, the public for dining pleasure!
District 21 will be a place for culinary students to work out their internships after schooling at the culinary center, a 31,000 square foot beauty of a school that leaves one in awe.
All cuisine going out of the kitchen will be approved by Chef Carlos Martinez, (who I have become an enormous fan of), so you know it will be wonderful. Just look at these bright and eager future Oklahoma stars!
I can dine as can you, and we all can experience some of the creations coming out of the kitchen of District 21 and the culinary students. Proceeds go back into the program, so it’s a great way to support your local chefs-in-training in Oklahoma City!
And if that doesn’t pull you in, how about this? Soft shell crab, freshly flown in…the price, you ask?
A measly $12. C’mon, folks!
You can eat at one of those icky chain restaurants and get WAY less! By the way, reservations are recommended. (Call 405-717-7700) and I predict, as the word gets out, you’ll need one.
Here is but one menu (which has been changing weekly), to show you an example, but it will be subject to change, I’m sure, depending on the season, or the week, or Executive Chef Carlos whim of the day. And INDULGE me, his whims are a GOOD THING.
The menu is set up with:
- Two =Sides
- Three = Main Courses
Let me show you a bit of District 21 and its cuisine.
First off, the space is beautiful.
From the golden bar that sits in front of the sparkling kitchen abuzz with students…
To the spacious and lovely dining room, this place is gorgeous.
The dinnerware was top notch as well.
I started out with a french press coffee.
As noted on the menu, the coffee is locally roasted and provided by Elemental Coffee Roasters from here in Oklahoma City. District also serves locally-made soda as well. In the background of the photo above, you’ll see Triple AAA Soda Company Creme Soda, good enough to cause Mr. Wonderful to order another! And it’s made right here in Oklahoma City!
(Side note – remember that many culinary students are underage; so as of now, there is no alcohol service at District.)
For our One- we ordered the Charcuterie Platter.
Depending on the week, you might receive a selection of briny olives, a soft triple creme brie and one of my favorite cheeses, Humboldt Fog, or a lovely bleu or or other pungent cheese and it will come along with cured meats and a thin crusty loaf of bread along with two mustards. This was a great start.
I ordered the Halibut, which was the catch of the day, and fell in love with the rich soy-based broth surrounding it.
Mr. Wonderful ordered the Shrimp Linguini.
Spiked with garlic, herbs and roasted tomatoes, it was delicious.
For our sides we ordered sauteed kale and baby carrots.
The carrots were glazed with butter and thyme and roasted in the pizza oven at District 21 and the kale was pungent with garlic. Both were wonderful.
I felt like I’d eaten reasonably healthful..and then this happened.
I’m a sucker for anything lemon, and this Lemon Curd Tart had a brûléed and crackly top along with lemon ice cream and berries…so delicious!
Mr. Wonderful got the Chocolate Cobbler with Lavendar Ice Cream.
The cobbler was warm and gooey, reminiscent of a molten chocolate cake and ice cream a delight. Who would think lavender ice cream could be so good?
On other visits to the District, we’ve had delicious offerings. Things like Truffled Ravioli.
And oh mercy. Mr. Wonderful hasn’t stopped talking about this since our last visit.
Tomatoes with Burrata and Caviar.
The tomatoes were dehydrated and intensely tomato flavored and Burrata (meaning “butter in Italian) needs no other introduction, save that it is fresh mozzarella bursting with cream inside. The Burrata is enveloped in two layers of the dried tomatoes and topped with “caviar’. The a fore mentioned cavaiar is a molecular gastronomy version play of caviar but actually made out of balsamic vinegar, these tiny eggs were a flavor of explosion atop the appetizer.
And speaking of molecular gastronomy, check out District 21′s take on Chicken and Waffles.
When you get the Chicken and Waffles at District 21, they might look suspiciously like a science experiment, which is a GOOD thing, if you want a little raspberry bubble to pop and pour out some raspberry syrup to infuse your pure maple syrup to ladle over your marinate and fried-up chicken and waffles.
And the man behind the raspberry bubble is none other than Chef Carlos Martinez, a California transplant to Oklahoma, who I personally love to chat with while at District 21. The man is passionate about innovative cuisine.
Chef Carlos is as passionate about the cuisine at District 21 as I’d love a chef who is overseeing the prep of my food to be. He loves to instill culinary passion in the students at District 21.
The ground at District 21 is so fertile with opportunity at District 21 that the students are eager to play with new innovative forms of cuisine. In a world of culinary experimentation, the students are blessed with machines like anti-griddles, sous vide and other extravagances that maybe don’t grace the kitchens of other restaurants.
This was also delicious.
The Artic Char ($13)with Cous Cous and Brussels Sprouts was cooked perfectly and sat in a bath of beurre blanc.
mr Wonderful ordered the filet with Yukon gold mashed potatoes in demi-glacé with baby carrots.
At $12, this is a STEAL! and he loved every tender bite.
The culinary school itself is fertile grounds to produce some of Oklahoma new and exciting chefs and I love seeing the creativity Chef Carlos inspires with these students.
I spoke to a few of these new prodigies. Like Jeremy Williamson who desires to have a career on a cruise ship. And there is Clayton McEwen, who has the brains and desire to want to be a petroleum engineer, but the lure of a chef’s life might just be tugging on him a little. And there is Nyla Hicks, who aspires to leave Francis Tuttle and continue on to the Culinary Institute in Calfornia and there is also Trron Johnson who wishes to some day run his own place right here in Oklahoma. Wherever these bright young people end up, District 21 has touched their lives in a good way and maybe someday, we’ll see them featured on Food & Wine, Lucky Peach, Culture or even Diner Journal. (Haven’t heard of them? Look them up!)
If you head to District 21, remember to park out back and that the culinary school is way to the back of the campus. Still being built, an outdoor kitchen with pizza oven is still in the works, and there is a lovely patio as well.
And the great news is…Tuesday, June 19th was the opening so head over and support your future chefs of Oklahoma folks!
12777 N Rockwell Ave
Oklahoma City, OK 73142
For Reservations: 405-717-7700
Here’s a map to help you find it!