Sep 27, 201208:00 AM
Our weekly blog on the New Orleans fine dining scene
A New Neighbor On Maple Street
Maple Street has long been a good place to grab a bite to eat, but in the last few years it's really taken off. Veteran eateries like Ciro's Cote Sud and Jamila's have been joined by newcomers like Maple Street Patisserie, Chill Out Cafe, and now the second location of the Bywater favorite Satsuma.
Satsuma took over a space that was formerly a laundry, but you wouldn't know it from the looks of the place now. There's a long bar that faces Maple on one side of the main dining room, and large windows open onto both Maple and Fern, allowing a lot of natural light into the restaurant during the restaurant's service hours of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The open kitchen is housed in a second, adjacent room with seating at a counter that runs along the length of the window.
Cassi and Peter Dymond haven't changed the menu from their Bywater shop at the new spot, meaning that vegetarians have a lot of options. The quinoa salad, for example, combines roasted local zucchini with feta, arugula, mint, almonds and an orange-jalapeno vinaigrette. The Thai noodle salad has become a standard, and includes shredded carrots and napa cabbage as well as tomatoes, avocados and mint in a peanut dressing. Meat-eaters have options too, such as a salmon-salad sandwich with capers, red onion, tomato and a tarragon aioli on wheat or sourdough or another sandwich of shaved ham with gruyere and apples on ciabattta.
Specials may be where the kitchen really shines. On a recent visit I tried the glazed brisket with an apple-cucumber salad over scallion pancakes with a side of the thai noodle salad. The brisket was meltingly tender and just a bit sweet. A smear of hot pepper sauce on the plate gave me the option of regulating the heat, and though the scallion pancakes were not what I'm accustomed to from Chinese restaurants – they were crispy – the textural contrast was perfect.
Satsuma doesn't neglect beverages, unless you're looking for an adult pour, in which case you'll have to bring your own. There's a full coffee menu and fresh-squeezed fruit and vegetable juices. On my last visit I tried the beet lemonade. It's exactly what it sounds like – lemonade with beet juice – but if that doesn't sound appealing to you, you need to give it a shot. Beets are naturally sweet, and added to lemonade the juice gives a brilliant red color and a hint of earthiness that's addictive.
Satsuma serves breakfast as well, though I haven't had a chance to sample that portion of the menu. In addition to the standard American repertoire, Satsuma serves a green breakfast sandwich that combines an egg, arugula, tomato, avocado and swiss cheese on a bagel, toast or croissant. Their version of green eggs and ham is scrambled eggs with basil pesto, shaved ham, swiss cheese and red onion on a croissant, and vegans can order a tofu scramble with black beans, onions, tomato and avocado.
I'm looking forward to seeing what other specials the folks at Satsuma come up with in the coming months, because based on my experience, this is going to be one of the best restaurants on Maple for a long time to come.