Ludivine: farm-to-table dining in Oklahoma City
Photos courtesy of
David Sutton Pictures
There is not a restaurant like Ludivine in all of Oklahoma City. The concept, which it terms “farm-to-table” dining, means Ludivine doesn’t serve anything on its menu that hasn’t been grown or raised locally. There are a couple of exceptions to this rule, such as some seafood items, which are naturally hard to find nearby. But what they don’t get in Oklahoma, they source so well that they know details like “the halibut on the menu was swimming just two days ago” as we were told about one of our dishes.
Ludivine is a very unique restaurant, and therefore we felt it was deserving of a group review from all the regular contributors at EatAroundOKC. So, while my name is on this article, it truly reflects input from all of our writers and also their spouses. Six of us dined together at Ludivine and we got to try a lot of different menu items.
The dining experience at Ludivine is upscale and trendy. It feels like a very urban, modern restaurant from the moment you walk in. They have an open-kitchen concept and a very vibrant space (see a pic), which can be quite loud when there are a lot of people in the room. This brings a lot of life to the experience at Ludivine, but just know that if your idea of fine dining is a quiet and semi-private table, Ludivine may surprise you.
Immediately I appreciated that our waiter was very knowledgeable about the restaurant and its menu. It was obvious that he was passionate about Ludivine’s concept, which was nice to see. He shared some menu and wine suggestions, gladly told us about the restaurant’s mission to provide fresh, local food, and when he didn’t know the answer to a question, asked instead of faking it. Tim thought the service was a bit lax for the level of restaurant. We did have to make a point to ask whether we could get some iced tea and long periods would go by with nobody coming around. Still, we all appreciated our waiter’s vast knowledge of and passion for Ludivine’s menu and locally-sourced foods in general.
The menu is small and constantly evolving. They publish a menu anew every night. It usually contains just 4-5 entrees and a handful of appetizers (including soups or salads) and desserts. This makes sense given that they only use the freshest ingredients but it still limits the options. Their menu also politely states that they decline to make any substitutions in their dishes. I can understand that, seeing that they work hard to get the flavor profiles just right for the food on the menu that night. This is great if you are the type of person willing to trust a good chef to make you a quality meal without much input. But if you are a picky eater, Ludivine will likely not be your favorite.
In fact, we had two pretty picky eaters in our group. Sarah’s husband Dave (who, by the way, took all of the fabulous photos for this review), and Tim’s wife, Jocelyn. They are both what you might call less-than-adventuresome eaters.
Dave actually found some success. The one thing on the menu he thought he could eat as presented was the Beer-Battered Halibut ($26) served with fennel and brussels sprouts in a green fennel puree. He loved the fish, though he brushed aside the veggies, as he does at most any meal.
Jocelyn, however, did not find happiness at Ludivine. To be fair, she did not expect to like it, but agreed to come anyway (such are the sacrifices one makes being married to Tim). She ordered the Braised Chicken Thigh ($23 – see a pic) which came with kale, baby carrots, pecan mirepoix puree, and tomato braising jus. If that ingredient list sounds rather eccentric, you will find that most every dish served here is quite the same. Jocelyn was not a fan at all and, in fact, Tim said he tasted her chicken dish and it was actually served quite cool in temperature. Maybe it was just a fluke but whatever the case, our pickiest eater could not give Ludivine her stamp of approval.
The rest of us, however, enjoyed trying some things we’ve never had before. Like Roasted Bone Marrow ($10 – see a pic), for instance. That’s right. Bone Marrow! When Tim saw that on the menu, he knew we had to see what it was all about. It was served just as it should be, in a giant bone split down the middle, with little spoons for scooping. The consensus of those who tried this dish was that the marrow itself didn’t have much of a taste, though the condiments served with the dish were great. We’ve heard some people refer to bone marrow as “meat butter” which is a pretty good description as it enhances the flavor of the bread it is served with but doesn’t carry a lot of flavor of its own. Personally, I’m glad I tried it, but I likely wouldn’t have it again.
For my main course, I went with the Walnut Creek Beef Burger ($15 – see a pic). Its ingredient list included raw milk cheddar, arugula, Crow Farm’s heirloom tomato, charred leek aioli, salad of red russion kale and baby carrots with cilantro buttermilk dressing (just another example of the widely-varied ingredients each dish contains). The toppings were piled so high it was difficult to eat without a fork and knife. The patty itself had a very soft consistency, which I found interesting at first but it got to be a little much after awhile. Tim, who also had the burger, agreed that the herby flavors and soft texture overwhelmed him part way through.
Sarah had the Peach Crest Farm Salad ($8 – see a pic) and soup of the day which was Potato and Leek ($7). She said the salad was probably the freshest she’s ever tasted, with a nice variety of carrot greens, red clover, asparagus, homemade bacon, fried egg puree and lemon juice. She enjoyed the soup as well, describing it as a velvety-smooth texture with plenty of flavor.
My husband had the Braised Pork Belly and Duck Confit ($25) served with gnocchi, cherry tomato, spring garlic, and beet greens. This dish had well-balanced flavors and a delicious sauce. It was one of the best dishes our table experienced. Together we shared a Chocolate and Peanut Butter Pot de Creme ($6) for dessert that was also divine. In fact, I might go so far as to say that dessert may have been the best course of the meal.
Sarah concurred about the desserts. She and her husband split the Chocolate-Lavender Bread Pudding ($8), served with orange semifreddo and honey. She advises to be aware that the desserts are sized to give you a taste, not an overwhelming portion. It was just right for her, but her husband could have eaten three or four more.
In conclusion, we want to communicate that Ludivine is a very difficult place to review. It is so unique that it will likely strike each person who tries it quite differently. Therefore, our thoughts likely won’t be the same as yours. That said, our overall impression is that while we love the concept and the passion behind it, it seems to almost be trying too hard to create a trendy experience. We’d love to see true farm-to-table dining done in a more approachable manner (with regards to both flavors and pricing) in order to open the concept up to a wider audience.
Regardless, what we can say is that Ludivine is a creative, quality, high-end dining experience unlike any other you’ll find in this city. We’re glad its here and we hope many others will give it a try.
Have you tried Ludivine? If so, please let us know what you think in the comments below.
See more photos from Ludivine in our Facebook photo album.
More Photos from Ludivine
Photos by David Sutton Pictures