Sep 24, 200912:00 AM
Our weekly blog on the New Orleans fine dining scene
Last weekend I had an all-around excellent meal at Bayona and upon leaving had to ask myself why I don’t go there more often. I was surprised to be reminded that it has been around for 18 years as even today it gets mentioned in the same breath as restaurants on the cutting edge.
The restaurant seems both old and new at the same time, partly because of the menu. The left side features the signature dishes, such as Susan Spicer’s Garlic Soup, and the right side gets changed out frequently with such new dishes as an andouille-stuffed rabbit roulade.
In addition, the patio’s charm is timeless, and going into fall, the appeal grows as the weather cools. The dining rooms have undergone renovations, including a cushion-like cladding on some walls that helps mute sound.
I had a unctuous crabmeat, leek and mushroom gratin for an appetizer, which came baked in a flaky puff pasty shell. Another appetizer of seared scallops came with Israeli couscous –– notable for its larger, almost pea-size grains –– which adds a lot of textural surprise. For entrees, the Pacific salmon with choucroute and gewürztraminer sauce is one of the stalwarts on the left side of the menu but one I really enjoy –– the salmon can stand up to its brawny accompaniments. Another special of peppered lamb loin came sliced in medallions with mildly tangy goat cheese and a zinfandel sauce that was declared to be “the best lamb ever.”
For dessert, pastry chef Christy Phebus served up a delicious ricotta cheesecake with a pine nut brittle and blueberry compote, along with a silky chocolate-cherry pot du crème.