When I first started eating out at restaurants with Grandpa Dotter without my own parents he would sometimes tell me to ignore the right side of the menu. At first I didn't get what he meant, but eventually figured out that he wanted me to ignore the prices and find something that I wanted to try and to enjoy it without thinking about the money. Eating out with my Dad was kind of the opposite as he was overly fixated on the numbers. That said, their relative financial resources were the opposite as well. Grandpa and Grandma Dotter were exceptionally frugal at home. They just believed in occasionally letting the money go and truly having exceptional experiences. My financial means lie somewhere between that of my parents and my grandparents. Luckily, this means that once in awhile I can ignore those numbers to the right and relax into a wonderful experience without thinking about the money, Friday night was one of those times.
I've wanted to go to Ludivine in OKC pretty much since it opened. My birthday seemed like the perfect time. Ludivine is a local farm to table concept that tries to draw as much of its food as possible from Oklahoma. We have attempted to go several times lately, but kids keep getting sick or there is bad weather or something. This time, the weather was not great, and the moment we tried to drop the kids off with Brent's parents M vomited... They elected to keep her anyway and we persevered.
As planned, we met my siblings and their spouses for drinks at Ludivine's bar about 30 minutes before our reservations at 7:30. We were, technically, celebrating my birthday, but also enjoying the rare opportunity to do something fabulous together just us, sans kids. The drinks were creative and interesting and a great way to start the evening.
When seated, the waitress gave us the option of a 5 course tasting menu complete with wine pairings as an alternative to ordering off the menu. I'd never tried a tasting menu before as I often balk at that big number that comes with them. I thought about my Grandpa then and the opportunity to have a really cool experience and ignore the numbers for a little bit. It took a little persuasion from my siblings, but I am so, so glad we did it. What happened next was possibly the best restaurant experience of my life.
For about two hours the staff brought us one course at a time along with a wine paired to go with it. The first course was a pureed spaghetti squash soup, that included chunks of beets, beet greens, and sorrel. This was paired with a French Pinot Gris. SO good. Why don't I eat beets more often? The wine was probably my favorite of the night. The second course included Chardonnay and a fascinating salad with razor clams, shaved fennel, minor greens, roasted sweet potato, black olives, garlic and a dressing that included Aleppo peppers. My siblings and I typically don't like black olives, but these were the best I've ever had. The third course was bucatini pasta with mushrooms, Parmesan and who knows what else. Delicious. The wine was red from, I think Radical Wines. The fourth course was Wagyu Flank Steak over purees chick peas, with sweet potatoes and more with a different red wine. Finally, we enjoyed Port with the black bottom peanut butter pie with sand plum jelly (which my Grandparents happens to be famous for so that was fitting.) The pie was just phenomenal. It "might" be in part because I haven't had peanut butter in six months or more due to E's peanut allergy, but everyone at the table agreed that it was phenomenal.
The whole menu from top to bottom was exceptional. Imagine a world in which wagyu steak was maybe my least favorite. I love steak, passionately, but several other courses might have outshone it. The time talking and laughing with my siblings was so wonderful too. The best company, the best food, the best drinks and the best time. I couldn't have asked for a better birthday celebration, a better meal, or a better evening. I loved it and am so glad we shared it as a family. If you get a chance to try something similar, I suggest that maybe, every once in awhile if your budget allows, you ignore the numbers a little and indulge in an exceptional experience.
*** An extra big thank you to Brent's parents and my mom who made this possible by having snowed in parties with our kids and Audra & Zach's kids. We love you and so appreciate your help!