We know. It’s hot. It’s summer in Oklahoma. Cool down by sampling cocktails that local bars and restaurants have concocted just for you. Find a nice, air conditioned space or a shaded patio and while away the hours drinking the flavors of summer. You might decide it’s not that bad after all.
— by Devon Green, photos by Mark Hancock, Shannon Cornman and Lauren Hamilton
There are a wealth of new local eateries cropping up in the metro and even more coming. If they’re not on your radar, they should be. From the comfy atmosphere at The Barrel on Western Avenue to the laid-back vibe at the Plaza District’s coffee shop, you might find a new regular hangout.
— by Devon Green, photos by Mark Hancock and Shannon Cornman
In the works for years now, West has opened its doors with a diverse menu and wine list in a contemporary setting.
Foodies had their eyes on the construction under way next to the N. Western Avenue Hideaway for months. Slowly, the old Iguana location transformed into a modern building surrounded by a chic, low-walled wood patio.
For sibling co-owners Rick and David Haynes, the journey from concept to opening night was even longer. Their latest venture, West, 6714 N. Western, opened in late November, and the newest entry onto the metro restaurant scene has been busy ever since.
It was a two-year process for the Haynes brothers, much of it spent on research into just what they wanted to create and working on the building itself.
“We spent a lot of time designing the building inside and out,” Rick Haynes said. “We spent a lot of time working on the interior, making it a contemporary restaurant. I wanted it to be extraordinary, different than Oklahoma City had seen before. I think we have a market for that now.”
West is modern and chic, yet still warm. The interior is done in a palette of muted taupes and blacks, with the eye traveling to standout details like a sleek bar right inside the front door, a glass wine wall, a fireplace and smaller touches, like cork-backed menus.
“We really wanted to make sure that we had something completely different in Oklahoma City, when you walk in you feel like you’re someplace else,” Haynes said. “And I think we capture that.”
For the Haynes, who also own Johnnie’s Charcoal Broiler and Pachinko Parlor, locating the new concept on Western Avenue was an important step in creating the restaurant.
“If I had to pick a place in Oklahoma City to open a new restaurant, Western Avenue would be it,” Haynes said. “It’s becoming a center point of Oklahoma City for restaurants and shopping, and we just think it’s a great area. I couldn’t pick a better area.”
The new space includes two dining areas and two patios — one on the west side for cigar smoking (something West hopes to sell in the future) and one on the north side for outdoor dining, complete with a large fire pit. The patios not only work as a modern touch to the outside design and something to draw attention to the building, but to shelter patio guests from both the Oklahoma wind and the traffic on Western. Haynes also plans to add live music to the north patio.
Inside, music is already playing on an acoustic system that Haynes said he put much thought into — including fabric under each table to absorb noise.
“You get the great sound of the music, but you’re also able to carry on a conversation,” he said.
Like the look of the space, West’s menu is contemporary and very eclectic.
“I wanted it to be diversified with a bit of everything,” Haynes said.
He certainly achieved that. Haynes visited restaurants in several other cities to pick what would appear on the menu, plus considered what he personally liked. The result is a menu that includes everything from vegetarian entrées to pasta to steak. And everything is made in-house.
At the helm in the kitchen is Eric Smith, a chef who trained at The Coach House and worked at La Baguette before spending years in Chicago restaurants. Smith is also a partner at Pachinko Parlor.
Complementing the food being turned out by the kitchen is a large and diverse wine list that includes options not always found in metro restaurants.
“I wanted you to recognize the wine, but I also wanted to educate people on wine,” Haynes said. “You go to a lot of restaurants and you see the same wines over and over. We’re so fortunate today, there are thousands of wines to choose from.”
Of the 85 or so bottles available, Haynes said between 25 and 30 aren’t found in many other local restaurants. And, he worked to create a list that includes expensive wines as well as moderately priced wines that don’t have a huge markup.
All that research and work has paid off for Haynes and his partners. Since opening Nov. 22, West has pulled in a lot of metro foodies and is generating positive word of mouth.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “I have a great staff, and we’re hitting on all cylinders.”