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California Dreaming

A surefire recipe for a great dining experience, Don Jones’s newest endeavor, Ol’Vine, features his signature attention-to-every-detail cooking style and honors the Sonoma area of the West Coast.

Michele Chiappetta
Marc Rains
February 15, 2017

In the heart of Tulsa’s Brookside District, a new restaurant opened its doors in February. Called Ol’Vine, it offers California-inspired, seasonal food prepared on a wood fire grill, all in a pleasantly open, bright dining room sandwiched between two of the best patios in town. It’s a surefire recipe for a great dining experience. And that’s just the way owner Don Jones likes it.

If Jones’ name sounds familiar, it’s because you’ve heard of him before. A well-known restaurateur in Tulsa, he is also the current owner of Cafe Olé, the successful Southwestern restaurant around the corner from Ol’Vine. With a lot of culinary successes under his belt, it’s no surprise to see Jones picking up the mantle left by Sonoma’s owners and running with it to delight Tulsans anew in Brookside.

Cafe Olé and Ol’Vine share one highly important element in common — Jones’ dedicated, passionate, detailed approach to food, service and customer satisfaction. Ol’Vine promises clients what Cafe Olé does — an experience they can fall in love with.

For those who enjoyed dining at Sonoma, which closed its doors in December 2016, Ol’Vine promises to honor their past experiences by keeping in mind what people liked about the old restaurant, while adding new delights to raise the bar for the clientele to enjoy. “The customers have supported Sonoma for a long time,” says Jones. “It’s not really broke. You don’t hang around for nine years otherwise. The opportunity is for us to embrace it, tweak it and make it better.”

Citrus Lemon Chicken (Photo: Marc Rains)

Rather than totally changing the menu, Jones is revamping it by bringing his signature cooking style to the recipes. His wife, Leslie, is adding her input too. “My wife’s a really good cook,” he says. The two of them love cooking, and both have ample experience in the kitchen, which results in a collaborative approach that ensures diners get the very best recipe, presented beautifully for a delicious meal every time.

In addition to thoroughly vetting the menu in a test kitchen — which essentially means Jones, his wife and the chefs have been pitting their recipes against each other until the dishes are perfected —Jones has been talking with customers and researching other restaurants around the country to determine a menu that offers a genuine California inspired cuisine that pleases the palates of his Oklahoma clientele.

“The first real question on my mind was, how do we freshen up the menu?” Jones says. “I’ve researched over a hundred websites from California restaurants just trying to figure out what’s the common thread. You see farm-to-table; you see fresh.”

That sense of detail doesn’t just influence the recipes. It carries into the careful selection of ingredients as well. That means finding suppliers who can bring in fresh, wild-caught salmon out of British Columbia, high-quality steaks, small batch bacon made to Ol’Vine’s specifications, and more — all to ensure customers love every bite.

To revamp the cheese plate, Jones has drawn on his experience at the gourmet culinary shop he once owned in Tulsa to create a selection of cheeses that are enticing and pleasing to local palates. Ol’Vine now sports a wood fire grill, which allows the chef to infuse different wood flavors into the meats. The brunch menu will be refreshed too, with plans to possibly incorporate smoothies alongside Belgian waffles, eggs, a crab omelet, maybe even mimosas and more.

Every single recipe on the Ol’Vine menu is influenced by the Jones’ approach to cooking, meaning you get “layers of flavors” in every bite. Customers can expect fresh takes on classic Sonoma dishes like citrus and garlic chicken, tomato bisque, and pasta primavera, as well as newly crafted recipes like wild mushroom gnocchi, wood grilled angus filet, and salmon tamales served with sweet corn relish. Customers can mix and match the main dish of their choice with selections from a sizable list of tasty sides, so that every time you sit down, you can craft the meal of your choosing.

White Pizza (Photo: Marc Rains)

Ol’Vine’s wine and drink selection has been carefully curated by Jones and his team to pair well with meals. Chardonnay, pinot blanc, Riesling, Syrah, sangiovese, cabernet, Malbec and more are on the menu, and they come from as near as California and Washington, and as far as France, Spain, Italy, Australia and New Zealand. Customers can enjoy a glass with dinner or opt for a bottle for special occasions and celebrations.

There is a select choice of mixed drinks too, as well as craft beers and even coffee drinks such as lattes and cappuccinos made with a special machine that Jones purchased new for the restaurant’s launch. And Ol’ Vine’s staff is ready to offer wonderful service, another mainstay of the Jones’ approach to restaurants. “I’ve hired some talented people here,” says Jones. “They understand the opportunity we have. They’re very aware of it, and they’re pretty stoked about it.”

Customers can also expect to enjoy revitalized dining experiences on Ol’Vine’s two patios. Each patio has its own special flavor that the restaurant will continue to provide. Bistro seating along the street allows Ol’Vine guests to see and be seen, dining with their dogs at their feet and chatting with familiar faces passing by. It’s an active and lovely way to dine. Behind the restaurant is a more secluded, shaded area where those who prefer a relaxed, intimate outdoor dining can revel in the quiet. Ol’Vine will maintain that feel, while finding ways to upgrade the experience for both patios.

“I think people who have come in here [to Sonoma] for a long time will like the cosmetic changes we’ve made, and hopefully they’ll like the food side of it,” says Jones. “We feel good about it.”

3523 Peoria Ave. | Tulsa
Monday: Closed
Tuesday-Thursday: 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Friday: 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
Saturday: 9 a.m.-11 p.m.
Sunday: 9 a.m.-9 p.m.