Chef Misti Norris has received several accolades like a James Beard nomination
, Food & Wine's best chef
and Dallas Observer Best Chef of 2022
, to name a few. Her main venture continues to be the owner and executive chef of Petra and the Beast
, but other projects include Stepchild
, her residency at Attalie, and various pop-ups
throughout the area.
Recently, however, she was the guest chef at Nonesuch
, an Oklahoma City spot named America’s Best New Restaurant
by Bon Appetit
in 2018. It’s a small 22-seat tasting-menu restaurant offering up a 10-course experience along with an optional wine pairing. The restaurant invited Norris to create and serve five of those courses for two nights recently.
As fans of All Things Misti Norris, we were made aware of this limited event and invited to make the three-hour trek north to see Norris out in the wild, away from her current home base in North Texas, and we jumped at the opportunity.
New Old Fashioned & Mel C.
Once seated, we decided against the wine pairing, since a three-hour return drive was in our immediate future. We instead ordered a couple of cocktails. A New Old Fashioned was one of the better we’ve had in a while, not too sweet, the Thai chili and clove being the “new” elements. The Mel C was a gin drink flavored with cantaloupe tepache and came with a little melon-flavored popsicle in the glass that made for a nice presentation.
No. 1: Snack (stroopwafel, chicken skin cannoli, mushroom meringue).
The first course was called “snacks” and was the creation of the team at Nonesuch that includes chef de cuisine Maddie Petry, chef Garrett Hare and several others. It was one of the highlights of the evening and consisted of three small bites: chicken skin cannoli stuffed with a smoked cheddar mousse, mushroom meringue, and a duck pâté-filled stroopwafel with tomato broth that was one of the best things we’ve tasted in a long time. The pâté was buttery and smooth, rich in flavor; the texture paired perfectly with the waffle, making for a great beginning. We would have loved to have gotten a bag of these for the long drive home.
No. 2: Guancaile; No. 3: Soup.
Next up, the first of chef Norris’ offerings, guanciale: crispy pork ears with a bell pepper relish on top of pork katsu, all resting on some farro with marigold flowers garnishing all. A great symphony of textures, crispy and creamy with tastes to match.
The soup portion of the menu followed, and this was a Nonesuch creation of burnt cucumber and spinach that had been roasted with some pear brandy, topped with apple and green tomato. This was a cold soup that brought all the flavors of late summer to the bowl.
No. 4: Cured hiramasa with a mushroom miso ponzu sauce.
The next dish was Norris', a fish course using hiramasa, or yellowtail amberjack kingfish, cured for three days in a vinaigrette, served with mushroom miso ponzu sauce, fennel and chives. There was a lot going on in this dish, but the flavors and textures all worked well.
This was followed by another of chef Norris’ plates, this time a summer tomato resting on cucumber hot sauce with smoked cheddar crisps garnished with mackerel garum and chicken oil. Again, the contrasting textures of the crispy cheddar, the creamy sauce, and the fleshy tomatoes provided a nice mouthfeel and another late-summer taste experience.
No. 6: spaghetti squash; No. 7: Swiss chard.
Nonesuch was in charge of the next course, spaghetti squash with chicken stock, lacto-fermented pumpkin topped with some nori and allium flowers. Another bright late summer/early fall sampling that hit all its intended points.
The next dish was Norris’ Swiss chard, coiled around some jalapeno mash with morsels of smoked crab, pickled chard root and crunchy pieces of pecans. The chard was intended to invoke seaweed, and it succeeded. We just wish there had been more crab.
No. 8: Pork tenderloin
The final protein of the night was Nonesuch’s rendition of a pork tenderloin, which was first brined, then placed in a sous-vide, then smoked, then roasted, before finally being finished on the yakitori grill and served on a jujube and mustard seed puree. So many cooking methods for something that we finished off in one bite, but the complexity of the cooking methods did provide that something extra, no matter how fleeting it may have been.
No. 9 Dessert (potato pudding); No. 10 Dessert (corn ice cream).
Finally, two desserts rounded out the evening. The first was Norris’ potato pudding, with apple slices and candied almonds, garnished with chocolate mint powder and mint leaves. This was another dish full of texture and nuance and led well into the final dessert, Nonesuch’s sweet corn ice cream served with grape granita, rosemary pecan crumble and muscadine grapes topped with olive oil and vanilla bean preserves. Who knew corn ice cream could be a thing that we would really enjoy?
During an extremely rare moment of downtime, Chef Norris appears to gather her thoughts and prepare for the rest of the evening.
So, 10 courses over a span of almost 2.5 hours, a varied and wide selection created and presented by two different teams, both of which seemed to complement the other in a way that was pleasing both visually and to the palate. It was quite an accomplishment, and we wonder what side project chef Norris will tackle next. We count ourselves as extremely lucky that at least for now, she has made North Texas her home base, but obviously, she’s also worth a drive.
Nonesuch: 803 N. Hudson Ave., Oklahoma City, 5:50 p.m. – 9 p.m. Wednesday – Saturday.
Petra and the Beast: 601 N. Haskell Ave., Dallas. Tasting menu by reservation only Saturdays.