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The Coach House evolves into The Hutch on Avondale; now open

After a six-month respite, the distinctive and iconic space at 6437 Avondale Drive in Nichols Hills Plaza has reopened.

Home to The Coach House for three decades, the concept is now The Hutch on Avondale. Embracing evolution in modern dining, chef David Henry promises in the video above the legendary space will keep the spirit of The Coach House aflame.

Chef Kurt Fleischfresser, longtime chef and owner of The Coach House, is still involved, but his son Kyle will be the Fleischfresser you see most often. Kyle’s passion for bartending is the foundation of the craft cocktail menu. He also teamed with The Coach House’s original founder, Chris Lower, to develop the dining room and bar.

Gone are intimate booths in favor of a long banquette, table linens for natural wood. The distinctive high ceiling adorned with elegant fabric has been lowered and fortified with crossbeams, and don’t expect the same hushed tones usually spoken by both guests and staff.

Beneath the new bar, which extends from the foyer to the kitchen entrance, you’ll find the usual purse hooks but also plugs for USB cables. The well-lit, well-stocked bar will be home base to Fleischfresser’s craft cocktails a top-tier wine and beer selection and for the first time ever guests.

Henry plans to use seats at the kitchen window for Chef’s Bar experiences.

If it sounds like The Hutch is The Coach House letting its hair down it is. But not Pat Boone “In a Metal Mood” so much as Frank Sinatra ditching big bands to run with the Rat Pack.

A member of Carl Milam’s Western Concepts family, the kitchen at The Hutch is like every chef’s Christmas miracle. Along with six circulators for sous vide cooking, Henry and crew have a pair of appliances from Pacojet. One micro-purees deep-frozen foods into ultra-fine textures like mousses, sauces, ice creams and sorbets without thawing. The chocolate ice cream I tried on Tuesday was rich and smooth with a distinctive chocolate flavor often lost in the standard process. The other is a obot coupe capable of cooking a sauce as it purees. Then there’s a smoker for Ponca City’s Cookshack, a blast freezer and for the first time ever, a deep-fryer.

Henry said his goal was to find equipment that would not only help push culinary boundaries but help run his kitchen smooth.

“We made some significant investments in the kitchen, but we feel like in the long run we’ll save money on waste and by being more efficient with what we have.”

Henry’s menu is whimsical without losing touch with culinary innovation. His menu starts with simple inspirations for appetizers like shrimp cocktail, barbecue ribs, French fries, and gravlax. But Henry, assisted by sous chef and fellow Coach House Apprenticeship grad Shane Roel, uses his considerable imagination and the aforementioned kitchen toys to deliver progressive interpretations.

Chilled Shrimp is served with pickled mustard seeds, avocado puree and puffed rice over cabbage. Spare ribs are cooked by sous vide at a low temperature before Henry finishes them in the smoker and glazes them in the house sauce. Fries are made from Yukon Gold potatoes, tossed in Maldon salt and served with black garlic aioli. Wings are inspired by traditional Buffalo-style but I doubt any pubs in western New York sell them with blue cheese mousse or pickled celery and carrots.

Henry’s offers a Bison Burger and Smoked Brisket Sandwich, both served on house-made Brioche buns. Tomato Bisque is standard on the opening menu along with five variations on salad. For heartier appetites, he’s offering Seared Salmon, Grilled Filet of Beef and Roasted Airline Chicken.

Henry said he plans to change the menu four times a year, and focus on fresh, seasonal and local ingredients. The restaurant is for dinner only until Wednesday when lunch begins. Henry said Sunday brunch will be the next addition to service.

For now, The Hutch on Avondale is open Tuesday through Saturday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays and until midnight Friday and Saturday.  Sunday When lunch service is added, it will begin at 11 a.m. When brunch arrives, it’ll run 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. followed by Sunday dinner 4 to 9 p.m.

This weekend, the kitchen will be open until 11 p.m. Reservations aren’t required, but definitely recommended. To do that, call 842-1000.

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Dave Cathey

The Oklahoman's food editor, Dave Cathey, keeps his eye on culinary arts and serves up news and reviews from Oklahoma’s booming food scene. Read more ›