Salad of Peach Crest Farm Asparagus and Homemade Bacon at Ludivine in Oklahoma City

Ludivine: farm-to-table dining in Oklahoma City

by | June 30, 2011 | 16 Comments

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Ludivine

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805 N. Hudson
Oklahoma City, OK 73102
405-778-6800
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Exterior of Ludivine 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.

Ludivine on Urbanspoon

More Photos from Ludivine

Photos by David Sutton Pictures

Braised Chicken at Ludivine in Oklahoma CityExterior of Ludivine in Oklahoma CityBone Marrow at Ludivine in Oklahoma CityTable Setting at Ludivine in Oklahoma CitySweetbreads at Ludivine in Oklahoma CityInterior of Ludivine in Oklahoma CitySalad at Ludivine in Oklahoma City

This article was posted by Jennifer Monies on Thursday, June 30th, 2011. It is filed under:

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  • Dan says:
    June 30th, 2011 at 7:56 am   

    Wow, I’m kind of surprised at this review. You’re definitely trying to be fair, but you might have taken the wrong people to dinner. I’ve been there at least 6 times and think it’s definitely the most interesting food in town and I’ve only had one dish that I didn’t think was up to par. I’ve had the bone marrow appetizer many times and had different people try it and all enjoyed it.

    The most glaring weakness in your review is that you did not mention the outstanding selection of cocktails. Ludivine has the best happy hour in town and the cocktails are unique and amazing. The next time you’re there, make sure and ask the waiter and/or bartender for some suggestions.

    It’s true that Ludivine may not “be for everyone,” however, it is perfect for everyone who appreciates fresh, creative, interesting dishes.

  • Tim says:
    June 30th, 2011 at 9:39 am   

    Dan, thanks for your feedback. We really appreciate it. You are correct that we didn’t mention the cocktails and the bar. That is consistent with our approach here at EatAroundOKC which is to keep our focus on the food. However, we do recognize that Ludivine’s cocktail selection is one of its great strengths so I appreciate you mentioning it. Thanks again for the comment!

  • Dan says:
    June 30th, 2011 at 10:14 am   

    Tim, good point about the lack of cocktail reviews, I didn’t consider that, however, since I’m sure you wish to become an “all encompassing” review site, wouldn’t you want to include reviews of wine and cocktail lists? They certainly are a critical part of the dining experience at most restaurants, especially upscale choices.

    I re-read your review and what made me laugh is the idea that two people who are “picky eaters” are critiquing food. I understand they are spouses and a group dining experience is a good thing, however, is it really fair to write a critical review for a restaurant with unconventional food from “picky eaters?’

    I sound like a shill for Ludivine, and I’m not, I don’t personally know any of the owners or employees. And it’s not a big deal, just kind of humorous. And you clearly state in your review that they are picky eaters and hence, this may not be the place for like minded people, but Ludivine is EXACTLY the type of restaurant we need in Oklahoma – not another Cheesecake Factory or other chain.

    Hopefully people who are on the picky side won’t be discouraged and will give it a try. OKC is about to be deluged with high end grocery stores selling expensive, organic and local goods. Maybe people will see the light and Ludivine will prosper?

  • Tim says:
    June 30th, 2011 at 1:10 pm   

    Dan, thanks again for the feedback. I just want to say that I do feel it’s legitimate to share the opinions of the “picky eaters” in our group. I’m confident that we have many readers who likely would relate to our less-adventuresome diners and, therefore, I think it’s good for them to have some insight from those who may approach restaurants from a similar mindset.

    I definitely agree with you in your desire to see more creative, quality local restaurants in OKC. If you read much on our site, you know that we are all about bringing attention to quality, local restaurants in OKC like Ludivine.

    Thanks again for the feedback. We appreciate the chance to hear your thoughts on our reviews so that we can continue to improve our service as well.

  • Dan says:
    June 30th, 2011 at 1:33 pm   

    Tim, I an a huge fan of EataroundOKC, or as they would say on the radio, “long time reader, occasional commenter.” Your site definitely supports interesting, eclectic restaurants in OKC and we all appreciate it! I also remember your review of Cheesecake Factory, which was spot on.

  • Jennifer says:
    June 30th, 2011 at 3:10 pm   

    I agree with Dan that the review really should have included a review of the cocktails as that is an integral part of the dining experience at Ludivine- just watching them make the cocktails in an experience in itself. I appreciate that Ludivine may not be for everyone, but I am a big fan and thankful that we have somewhere unique to try in OKC. I think there are plenty of “approachable” restaurants for the pick eaters of OKC.

  • Jennifer M. says:
    June 30th, 2011 at 3:17 pm   

    Our waiter made some awesome wine choices for my husband and I during our dinner, so I can vouch for the pairing skills. I hear they have a great late nigh menu as well that I would like to check out. I think for me personally this is much more likely to become a happy hour/late-night option. To each his own. Drinks, desserts and unique apps. Love it. But I certainly agree that it is awesome for OKC to have a place like this.

  • Tim says:
    June 30th, 2011 at 5:56 pm   

    Dan, thanks for the kind words and the long-term support. I appreciate it and I’m glad you shared your thoughts with us here.

  • Dave says:
    July 2nd, 2011 at 3:23 pm   

    They have a late night menu and a happy hour menu that let’s people try a few things out at a lower cost. I think it’s a great place to try something different. It’s nice that each time you go you get something that you’ve never had. Keeps it interesting.

  • Anon Reader Dude says:
    August 16th, 2011 at 11:50 am   

    Inconsistent but intriguing place. The concept is great and they are trying to do something very cool for OKC.

    When they’re “on,” it can be brilliant. There are also some flops.

    Portions are small.

    The wine list is like the rest of the restaurant: small, ambitious, trying to do something new and excellent; sometimes succeeding, sometimes not.

    The bar and the cocktail menu are consistently great.

  • loveitorhateit says:
    October 4th, 2011 at 2:33 pm   

    The first experience my wife and I had here was top notch. The atmosphere and cuisine was on par with several of my favorite intimate joints I used to frequent around Brooklyn, NY, while staying true to the local Oklahoma flavors. The waiter was knowledgeable without being pushy, gladly giving suggestions when asked, and the ever changing menu was very appealing. This was during the time when they had a keg of the COOP Farmhouse Ale and that just put the icing on the cake.

    Unfortunately, since that first visit, Ludivine has failed to impart the same experience. In consecutive visits, my wife and I were equally disappointed with our meals. Overcooked entrees and seemingly carelessly constructed cocktails has left a bitter taste in our mouths.

    After the first visit, I raved to friends of the creative menu and exceptional bartenders (I thought at the time the Old-Fashioned was one of the best I’d ever tasted, in OK or NY). Now I wouldn’t be too quick to recommend dinner, and I will suggest other bars when friends want to catch up.

    With just a little work on the food, more care in the service, and a little more time spent on the cocktails, I know Ludivine has the potential to WOW again. Until then…

  • Mary says:
    April 22nd, 2013 at 10:53 am   

    Our visit to Ludivine was truly a dining experience. It reminded me of NYC restaurants – upscale, urban, with a unique menu. I can’t think of any other restaurant in OKC that can match this. I had the seared steak as an appetizer… the sauce was absolutely delicious. I followed that with the Bahn Mi…pate, terrine..vegetables, ummm. I loved everything about the place, down to the lovely silverware. This is definitely a place to bring your sophisticated friends & show them what OKC has to offer!

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