One would think that a restaurant that features mostly grilled and smoked meats, a cigar lounge and a brick-and-wood interior to go with a name like Smoke on Cherry Street would add up to a distinctly masculine place to dine.

Meat, potatoes, whiskey and cigars: What's left to say?

Well, there are butter-braised Brussels sprouts, roasted baby carrots, rosemary flatbread and linen table settings that speak to a more feminine side. Not to mention as many women as men visit the cigar lounge.

With such things in mind, I didn't know what to expect when we dined there on a busy weekend night, but, like most of our national political debate, both views proved too simplistic.

We shared the rosemary grilled flatbread ($10), which came with arugula pesto, truffle oil and shaved manchego cheese, topped with a sunny-side up fried egg. It was a fantastic blend of flavors.

A 6-ounce prime beef tenderloin ($25) was thick and tender, warm and red through the middle. A smoked paprika Bearnaise sauce paired perfectly.

Also impressive were a prime hanger steak ($20), sometimes called a "chef's cut," that was served with bacon-tomato butter; and the pork loin chop ($22) with a pinot noir sauce and a side of scallion risotto.

A Colorado lamb loin chop ($23) was too fatty. A little more meat on the bone would have been nice with the wonderful chorizo demiglace, fingerling potatoes and butter-braised Brussels sprouts.

A creme brulee ($8) dessert looked lovely, but the sugar layer on top was undercooked, leaving a grainy, sweet coating.

I had hoped to try the American Kobe hamburger, highly touted by executive chef Erik Reynolds, who came to Smoke from Austin, Texas, but it wasn't on the dinner menu. That's a good excuse for a return visit for lunch.

Smoke on Cherry Street holds great promise to become a popular destination for a wide variety of diners.

Reservations are recommended.


cigar room

Smoke on Cherry Street owner Mitch Dees said he always enjoyed a cigar after a nice dinner, so he remembered that when designing his first restaurant.

"Except for the brick walls, there was nothing here when we took over," Dees said of the former Jazzmo's Bourbon Street space.

"My business partner, Ken Coulter, has a commercial glass company, so he designed the cigar lounge, the new front windows and doors, and the crackle glass that decorates the openings in the brick walls.

"You can smoke cigarettes, too, in the cigar lounge. It has a great ventilation system, and it's a great place to hang out."

Dees is on hand most nights. Cory Kester, a veteran of Tulsa fine dining, is manager.


SMOKE ON CHERRY STREET

1542 E. 15th St.

949-4440

11 a.m. to midnight Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday; accepts all major credit cards.

SUBHEAD: smoke on cherry street