Renovations are complete on Café Cuvée, the new French bistro inside the Ambassador Hotel in Midtown. Previously Viceroy Grill, the new concept is now officially open, and features what hotel general manager Shawn Rogers calls “approachable French cuisine.”
“Café Cuvée still serves steak and chicken – dishes people are familiar with – but the techniques and sauces are what make them French cuisine,” Rogers says.
Chef Kurt Fleischfresser oversees culinary operations for Coury Hospitality, of which the Ambassador is a property. He said that owner Paul Coury loved the idea of a French restaurant, but it wasn’t until the men were in a small bistro in Wichita that the idea solidified.
“Typically, when you think of a French restaurant, you think formal, white tablecloths, fine dining, that sort of thing,” Fleischfresser says. “The bistro in Wichita was a small, authentic brasserie, and we realized that this was something that we could do here. The space is small [and] we can stay authentic with the food.”
The result is a casual but elegant space on the Ambassador’s ground floor, with seating for about 60 diners. Its traditional French country dishes are complemented with a by-the-glass French wine list and décor that embodies the brasserie aesthetic. The renovations opened the space from the old Viceroy days, and a new sign and canopies above the windows brand Café Cuvée as a local restaurant.
Restaurant manager Lana Gowdy said that, its location inside the Ambassador notwithstanding, they want people to think of Café Cuvée as a neighborhood restaurant. “We’re a restaurant in a hotel, but we want people to feel very comfortable coming in here, just as they would with any other local restaurant. We are obviously an amenity for our guests, but we also look forward to serving our Oklahoma City neighbors.”
Fleischfresser handpicked Executive Chef Taylor Desjarlais to helm the project last year. Desjarlais was the opening chef at Chae, and participated in the Coach House apprenticeship program, one of the last to graduate before the closing of Coach House.
“Taylor was working for us at Vast, and I know from our past that he loves French food,” Fleischfresser says. “He was a natural fit, and he was eager when we offered him the position.”
Desjarlais has constructed four menus: breakfast, brunch (served Saturday and Sunday), lunch and dinner. The dinner menu features some traditional dishes that were also favorites at Coach House, including Dover sole and the accompanying dauphinoise potatoes that were rightly famous before the Nichols Hills concept closed. In trial dinners, the rib eye steak, escargots, steak tartare and (vegan) tomato-basil soup have also received high praise from diners and staff.
Sommelier and beverage director Jeff Cole’s by-the-glass French list is supplemented with a five-page bottle list that includes one page of American wines. Cole said he chose the American wines based on relationships that the Ambassador and OBar had with the wineries, proprietors and winemakers.
The lunch menu is affordable and easy to execute for a business lunch; Gowdy recommended the chicken paillard sandwich, made with a grilled breast with caper aioli and frisée lettuce. Breakfast, including fresh-baked pastries, begins at 6:30 a.m. Monday through Friday, and full coffee service is available. Brunch is served 10:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Lunch is served 10:30 a.m. -2 p.m. The restaurant is closed 2-5 p.m. daily, and dinner service is 5-10 p.m. daily.
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