Restaurant Insider: Up and Coming

Maurepas’ Goat tacos

SARA ESSEX BRADLEY PHOTOGRAPHS

On Thursday, April 19, StarChefs.com will host Rising Stars New Orleans, one of four such events the industry publication will hold across the country this year. The event recognizes up-and-coming chefs and culinary professionals in a city, and awards are given in numerous categories, including chefs, pastry chefs, hotel chef, restaurateur, mixologist and sommelier. The awards will be presented at a tasting gala and ceremony at the New Orleans Museum of Art, from 5:45 to 9:30 p.m. Tickets start at $85 with VIP tickets (which get you access to a reception featuring champagne and Petrossian caviar) cost $125.

I had a chance to sit down with managing editor Will Blunt during one of his several trips to New Orleans while the organization was researching the awards. My overwhelming impression was, of course, unbridled jealousy, but I also found the conversation fascinating. Blunt, with a staff of around 20, travels the country on these research trips. They clearly take their work seriously. I don’t know about the rest of the food writers in New Orleans, but I tend to take a rather picayune view of things. I enjoyed hearing Blunt’s perspective on the other cities StarChefs.com has visited over the last few years. At any rate, the event looks to be a good time, with a lot of food, drink and local restaurant-industry folks mingling in a beautiful setting. To purchase tickets, visit StarChefs.com and click on the “Rising Stars” link.

There are a few questions I am asked pretty often. “What is that smell?” is one. “Why are you hitting me?” is another. Even more frequently, however, I’m asked, “What’s your favorite new restaurant?” Since I first dined at Maurepas (3200 Burgundy St.), that restaurant has been my default answer. The restaurant opened in Bywater some months ago, a neighborhood that’s a bit off the beaten path for fine-dining restaurants. Chef Michael Doyle worked previously at Dante’s Kitchen, and he’s taken a similarly casual approach at Maurepas, though his food definitely skews towards the more ambitious. Goat tacos are a standout, as are the house-made terrines and the frequently changing sides, such as slow-cooked greens, broccoli roasted with saba and brussels sprouts with bacon and root vegetable purée. Doyle’s fish and chips are unusual in that neither are fried. He places a piece of sautéed fish over Lyonnaise potatoes; it isn’t the classic preparation, but it’s good. Maurepas is open from 11 a.m. to midnight every day but Wednesday. Call 267-0072 for more information.

C’est la Vie (4206 Magazine St.) opened a few months ago in a block that’s become packed with eateries, including La Petite Grocery, a branch of Theo’s Pizza, Ignatius and, across the street, the new Vietnamese restaurant Magasin. It is also the block in which Dominique Macquet will be opening his namesake restaurant in the near future. Chef Sebastien Baudin hails from Annency, France, near that nation’s borders with Switzerland and Italy. He grew up in restaurants and wanted to open a place that felt comfortable and at which neighborhood residents could eat several times a week. The menu is classic bistro, from escargot to steak-frites, and it’s all rendered competently. Prices are relatively low for the quality of the food and, as of this writing, there’s no corkage for the first two bottles of wine diners bring. The restaurant is attempting to secure a liquor license, so that may change. C’est la Vie is open from Tuesday through Sunday for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and for dinner from 5 to 10:30. Call 304-6497 for more information.

Questions? Comments? Suggestions? E-mail: rdpeyton@gmail.com

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