Small Plates; Big Dreams
Balise, Shaya and Bourré
SARA ESSEX BRADLEY PHOTOGRAPHs
Justin Devillier and his wife/partner Mia, most well known for La Petite Grocery, have opened a second restaurant, Balise, at 640 Carondelet St. in the CBD.
The menu at Balise is divided into garde manger (salads and appetizers), entremets (French for “between courses,” which here translates to “small plates”), entrées and lagniappe (sides). It isn’t a large menu, and the majority of the offerings are small, which makes it easy to enjoy a meal of multiple courses without feeling like a glutton.
When I spoke to chef Devillier, he told me that Paul DiMaria, Trip Hartsell and Mark Falgoust are the sous chefs who “run the show” at Balise. DiMaria does double duty as pastry chef.
Highlights from the garde manger portion of the menu include fried chicken wings with Brussels sprouts, fish sauce, chiles and peanuts; venison tartare with dill mayonnaise and toasted rye breadcrumbs; and raw Wahoo with fermented chiles and olive oil with a salad of chilled haricots verts with shaved, pickled fennel, buttermilk dressing and bottarga.
As of this writing I’ve been to Balise three times and haven’t yet made it to the entrées side of the equation, but hope to soon.
There is, of course, a craft cocktail menu. Jesse Carr is the bar manager, and I can recommend the Methuen Treaty and the Risico.
Balise is open Mondays through Fridays, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and 5 to 11 p.m. on Saturdays. You can reach the restaurant by calling 459-4449.
In February Alon Shaya opened Shaya at 4213 Magazine St., in the space that was most recently Dominique’s on Magazine.
Shaya is a native of Israel, and here he’s preparing a modern take on the cuisine of his homeland. Here, a familiar dish, hummus, has a section to itself on the menu, with variations including a fairly standard take (olive oil and Aleppo pepper) to fried cauliflower with curry and another garnished with a soft-cooked egg, pickles and a fiery Moroccan red chile paste.
Like his other two restaurants, Shaya has a wood-fired oven, but here it turns out loaf after loaf of flatbread that’s essentially pita bread, but with a more substantive crumb and a beautiful char.
I like other touches as well; perfect, nutty falafel are served over a raw cabbage salad flavored with fresh mint and orange blossom water; and sausage-shaped lamb kebabs are accompanied by dollops of roasted tomato and red pepper, hummus and pine nuts.
He gave a lot of credit to Shannon White, the director of operations, as well as Sean Courtney; Peggy Keplinger designed the beverage program. The menu is his, ultimately, but in the period before they opened, he had a lot of input from his entire team, particularly sous chefs Zach Engel and Liz Mervosh, and chef de cuisine Mike Wilson.
Shaya is open Sundays through Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and until 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Call 891-4213 to make a reservation.
Bourré at Boucherie
Chef Nathanial Zimet and partner James Denio opened Boucherie in 2009 as a logical extension of their Big Purple food truck, Que Crawl. The restaurant in the Creole cottage on Jeanette Street has been wildly successful, and recently when they had an opportunity to lease a larger space, they took it.
Boucherie has moved, though not far. The new address at 1506 S. Carrollton Ave. is literally around the corner. The former location is now Bourré at Boucherie, a casual spot offering craft daiquiris, chicken wings and small plates.
When I sat down with Denio recently, he told me that the menu is still being finalized, but he anticipated five different wing preparations, including smoked jerk, spicy buffalo and a version with kimchee. The wings are tender and unctuous with serious attention paid to the sauce and garnishes. They also plan to serve five or so daiquiris, though here again things aren’t settled. They have solid recipes for daiquiri flavors like baked banana, gin and tonic and a take on the hurricane cocktail, but they’re still deciding how best to make the cocktails in batches.
In addition to wings, expect small plates such as Japanese grilled yakitori, and mussels with coconut and kaffir lime. The physical space won’t change much, but the seating will likely be at raised bar-height tables, and Denio said he anticipated a lot of their business would be takeout.
The hours for Bourré at Boucherie aren’t yet set, but you can call 862-5514 for details.