Chicken Fried Rabbit, Korean Tuna Steak, Asian Style Pork Chop and Grilled Texas Quail seem a bit out of the ordinary. But for Matthew and Brooke Kelley, owners of Lucky's, these are just a few of their favorite dishes they have prepared at home over the years and want to share with fellow Tulsans.
The menu at Lucky's, a new tastefully contemporary restaurant on Cherry Street, is one that reads almost like a sampling of cuisine types from Asia, Europe and the Middle East that eventually settled back in Oklahoma and the southwest. Such items include Trimbach Riesling Chicken, Rosemary Lamb Chops, Pan-Seared Foie Gras, Crispy Sea Bass, Fire Roasted Wild Salmon, Seared Ahi Tuna, Pan-Smoked Trout, Southwest Caesar Salad, Braised Beef and the Black Eyed Pea Cakes.
Graduating from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, in 1991, Matthew has an added advantage creating such interesting selections. Matthew said he and his wife, Brooke, created the menu together, but he is not the kitchen chef. "We try to be out in the restaurant with customers," he said. Matthew describes Lucky's as "an American restaurant with Southwestern hints." His culinary training helps him determine how to bring out the best in foods by using the best of foods.
Take for example the Asian Style Pork Chop ($21). A few friends and I sampled this dish when we dined here. This chop was no ordinary chop. It was exceptionally tasty, moist and juicy with a slightly sweet initial Asian-spice taste.
Matthew said if he were to dine at his own restaurant, this is what he would order.
To prepare this chop, he explained, it is first hand cut and then rested in a brine for a couple of days, which he said actually gives it a different texture than an "ordinary" pork chop. He describes it as akin to "beef texture." Then, the chop marinates for up to five days and is cooked over a wood burning grill. Finally, it is topped with a house made mustard. Braised Swiss Chard and Smashed Yukon Potatoes accompany the chop.
Since age 13 Matthew has been in the restaurant business. He would open restaurants for other people until finally opening the Atlas Grill in 1998 with his wife. They sold it three years ago. "I love Cherry Street and when this location came available, I knew it would be perfect for a restaurant," he said.
Brooke described the food as "fresh" and "organic." She also mentioned the great wine list that she said people really love.
It's a "20 for $20" list--twenty good wines for $20. Also, the wine list contains both organic and "dynamic" wines.
When my friends and I dined here, we were completely impressed with the food choices. As an appetizer, we had Black Eyed Pea Cakes ($9), which were round disks of black-eyed peas, fried to a crispy state. They made us wonder if there were really black-eyed peas in them. The appetizer was served with fresh corn relish (which had flavors of red bell pepper and corn) and chipotle aioli, an excellent spicy and smoky dip.
Our server brought us complimentary grilled homemade flatbread (rather than bread or rolls) with a dipping sauce of roasted garlic, white beans and rosemary. It was excellent! We especially enjoyed the wood-grilled flavor of the flatbread.
I felt adventurous this evening, selecting with slight hesitation the Chicken Fried Rabbit ($24). Another dining companion ordered the Crispy Sea Bass ($29) and another selected the Grilled Texas Quail ($24).
The Rabbit came with deliciously spicy Chipotle Gravy, Cilantro Mashers and Grilled Peppers. The Rabbit, according to Matthew, is farm-raised in Texas. He's surprised of its popularity; this came lightly breaded and fried (possibly baked a bit), resembling chicken fingers. The tenderloin section of the Rabbit was very white meat and very tender. The Mashers had generous leaves of the fresh herb, cilantro, and the Grilled (red) Peppers were nicely flavored.
My friend's Crispy Sea Bass was some of the whitest and tallest we've seen. It was excellent. The Bass was light and delicate; the taste was creamy and buttery. This was served with a deconstructed Rustic Pesto Cream Sauce, Lentils, White Truffle Oil and Grilled Baby Carrots.
While all plate presentations were very creative, the Texas Quail came rested on a tall, airy mound of shoestring Sweet Potato Fries with pomegranates adding something extra sweet. The Quail appeared to be lightly floured and grilled to a fine, rustic taste. Lucky's Grilled Vegetables--corn, onion, asparagus and tomato--was the side item.
Matthew said all the desserts are made in-house, which is unusual these days. So, we had to sample at least three of them--the Meyer Lemon Tart, the Frangelico Brulee and the Coconut Cake. The Tart, with a graham cracker crust, had a mild lemon flavor and was sweet and very creamy; the Brulee was rich and creamy, but the Coconut Cake was something to write about.
This slice of cake was by far the best any of us had ever tasted. This gargantuan slice was three layers of white cake which had been soaked in coconut milk with key lime curd spread among the layers. It had a cream cheese frosting topped with fresh toasted coconut. This decadent cake must be tasted to be believed. Matthew said this cake was one that his mother-in-law loved.
Everything sounds rather gourmet, but according to Matthew they really aren't. "These are pretty honest, straight-forward dishes," he explained, "There's really nothing very complicated with them."
Matthew and Brooke said there will always be changes as the seasons change. Matthew is currently working with the Benedictine monks at Clear Creek Monastery to use their farm--raised meat.
1536 E. 15th St.
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