On Monday night we got treated to dinner at The Coach House in Nichols Hills - a place I’ve been wanting to try since I moved here in December of 2011. I’d heard that Executive Chef Kurt Fleischfresser’s food was outrageously good, and also that the portions were moderately-sized (my preference), as opposed to honkin’-falling-off-the-side-of-the-plate-sized. I also heard it was expensive. Turns out all of the above was true.
FYI: I’ve posted this review with Oklahoma City reviews since Nichols Hills (a city of two square miles) is completely surrounded by OKC.
Bill, Dominique and I each had a drink while waiting for the other diners to arrive. Dominique and I ordered a Cosmopolitan, and Bill had a bourbon. I must say, The Coach House in Nichols Hills makes a mean Cosmo. It was fruity but not overly sweet, was well balanced, and served cold (something I never take for granted).
There were 14 of us seated in a separate room in the back of the restaurant (that room seats 20, the main room can seat 56) and our menu was prix fixe. Everyone had the appetizer of Grilled Shrimp with Oklahoma Cheddar Grits Cake, pictured above. Now granted, I was starving, and everything usually tastes better when I’m ready to chew my arm off, but this appetizer was one of the best I’ve had…ever. It was that good. Served warm, the shrimp were perfectly cooked: tender and not at all rubbery, and the sauce was a rich, smooth beurre blanc. The cheddar grits cake added a little crunchy texture, and if I had had two more servings of the appetizer I would have happily called it dinner and be done.
The entrées from the prix fixe menu included Filet of Beef in a Red Wine Sauce, Rosé Braised Chicken with Olives and Basil, and Cornbread Crusted Salmon with Tomato Butter. Bill had the filet, Dominique chose the chicken, and I had the salmon. Depending on your point of view and your level of hunger, the servings were moderate-to-small sized. Bill’s filet was about 6 oz., and my salmon was the same size. Both came with some mixed vegetables of fresh corn and peas which were very good. Bill said his beef was tasty, but it was a little overcooked – his order got mixed up with another diner’s. Dominique’s chicken was a bit larger, about 8 to 10 oz., and we swapped plates about half-way through so I got to taste hers as well. I liked the chicken entrée better than the salmon. The Kalamata olives with basil added a nice note of tang and acidity to the chicken, and while the salmon was good, I found the sauce to be a little too sweet for my taste.
But wait, there’s more. The dessert.
Coach House Warm Chocolate Cake with Orange Caramel. Accompanied by a quenelle of whipped cream and a toasted coconut cookie, the dessert was rich, warm, and had a crispy outside which was a delightful contrast to the gooey chocolate lava – a truly decadent finish to the meal. I couldn’t eat the whole dessert, but I wish I could have. Dominique licked the plate. Literally.
Overall, the service was good (with the exception of Bill’s steak). Attentive and friendly without being cloying, the wait staff was well-versed on the menu items and able to answer questions readily.
Of special note is that Executive Chef Kurt Fleischfresser is one of only three working chefs in the U.S. to have been honored by the Academie de Brillat Savarin. Like his fellow honorees Paul Prudhomme and Julia Child, Chef Fleischfresser was recognized for his continuing efforts to advance the knowledge and practice of culinary excellence, local food, Slow Food, and also for teaching the next generation of chefs.
As an fyi, according to their web site, an impressive list of chefs have cooked at The Coach House including “Jacques Pepin (twice), Stephan Pyles (three times), Roland Passot (twice), Rick Bayless, Jean-Louis Palladin, Hubert Keller, Hugh Carpenter, Bernard Cretier, and Deborah Madison.” How cool would that have been if one of those chefs had been there on Monday night?
Naturally, all of that delicious food and attentive service isn’t free. Be forewarned, The Coach House in Nichols Hills is pricey. The cosmos alone were $16 each – prices I’d expect to find in the New York City area. We figured the average price per person for this dinner came to about $50 (not including drinks), but keep in mind that the entrees alone off the regular menu can go as high as $52. For a special occasion, or if someone else is treating (with thanks to Brandon Story and Carl Milam for the dinner), I’d go back to The Coach House in Nichols Hills in a blink.
The Coach House
6437 Avondale Drive
Nichols Hills Plaza
Nichols Hills, OK 73116
tel: (405) 842-1000 fax: (405) 843-9777
Lunch: Monday – Friday 11:30-2:00
Dinner: Monday-Saturday 6:00-10:00