Story and photos by Sarah Little
When a client of mine told me back in 2013 that they were partnering with a chef and opening an innovative new style of restaurant, I was intrigued. When they told me it was going to be in Tonkawa, the wind left my sails. Tonkawa? Really? There’s almost nothing in Tonkawa. But they believed in the cause and took an “If we build it they will come…” stand and never looked back. At that time, my firm helped with branding, design and web programming, and through the rigorous events of a grand opening, we all became friends. Throughout the years, I have been a guest and sent many a friend to be a guest at Chef Jeff Denton’s table. Indeed, they built a business that people did and would come to experience in TS Fork.
Chef Jeff is no stranger to the restaurant business. In addition to working as an executive chef, he has taught many up and coming chefs through the vocational training programs in Ponca City. He also has served as the director of the child nutrition program at Ponca City Public Schools for many years.
This summer, I got a call from Chef Jeff out of the blue. He told me that he was preparing a venture in Stillwater and my heart leapt! While I LOVE everything he’s ever cooked for me, getting to Tonkawa in our hectic life these days was proving to be more challenging than ever. We talked about his opportunity, and about his goals for the Stillwater restaurant. I am thrilled to say that the Stillwater location is everything and more than I could have hoped for.
The food is fresh– really, really fresh! If Chef Jeff can get it locally, he does. An avid utilizer of local farms and local growers, you are going to find fresh ingredients, from the house-made brats on the charcuterie board to the house-made bitters and extracts at the full bar.
When you make your reservation (yes, you need one every day but Sunday) you are signed up for an amazing dining experience, not just a meal. Live music is standard, and the classical easy going vocals are sure to have you relaxing and enjoying the vibe! The full bar has signature drinks that are beautiful as well as delicious, and local brewery Iron Monk is heavily featured in the beer category. My personal favorite was the Black Widow. What’s in it? Well, you’ll just have to visit and see!
Joining Chef Jeff in the Stillwater location is Chef Jonathan Arujo, who is helping lead the kitchen while Chef Jeff gets to enjoy the guests and help manage the dining room. Together, they plan and execute a wonderful dining experience. The menu changes every two weeks but always features the signature TS Fork deviled eggs. If you haven’t experienced them before, you are in for a treat because these are unlike any you’ve ever had before! The theme for the opening night that I attended was roots, and each dish featured some kind of root vegetable incorporated into the course. From the beer cheese & parsnip soup, Spinach Balsamic Salad with Beet Confetti, Goat Cheese, Apple and Carrot Vinaigrette, to the Black Pepper Beef Tenderloin with a Mushroom Demi-Glace, and Fresh Vegetable gratin that featured sweet potatoes, it was all amazing. The dinner finished off with a delightful Carrot and Pineapple cake that was a delicious end to a perfect fall meal.
The dinner is a price fixed meal at $40 per person, but I promise, you won’t leave hungry or feel like you overspent! The experience is great to share, and the room is set for groups of four, six and eight and can easily accommodate larger parties if needed.
On Sunday, Chefs Jeff and Jonathan bring a new take on Sunday dining. At $20 per person, they are offering a carving station for a selection of meats, family style served vegetables and individually served desserts. As always, coffee tea and water are included, and the bar will feature some fun and unique cocktails.
Upcoming menus include local favorite, Iron Monk, and of course some holiday fare. With the exception of December, the menu will always be different in Tonkawa, so that each restaurant offers a unique experience.
TS Fork Stillwater is open Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays for dinner reservations and on Sunday for lunch without. They do a fixed starting time for dinner and a limited serving time at lunch, so don’t be late for Chef Jeff’s dinner bell. Also, after you are finished dining, don’t miss out on the TS Fork Market, where you can find lots of locally made, Oklahoma inspired gifts and gadgetry. You can book online at www.tsfork.com (just make sure you choose the right restaurant when making your reservation!) or by calling 888.299.4411. Tell them Sarah sent you!