New Tastes to Try
Primitivo, Sac-A-Lait and Kin
SARA ESSEX BRADLEY PHOTOGRAPHS
Chef Adolfo Garcia should, by the time you read this, have opened Primitivo at 1800 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., with partners Jared Ralls and Ron Copeland. Garcia, who also runs High Hat Café, La Boca Steakhouse and Ancorra Pizzeria, decided to expand in the area after seeing the space, which will house a 70-seat restaurant and apartments on the second floor.
He told me that the concept is simple: meat, salt and fire. The open kitchen sports a 15-foot-wide oven designed with Gustavo Chinchilla that has separate compartments for hot and cold smoking and both wood and charcoal grilling.
Garcia told me another reason for opening the Primitivo was to provide an outlet for some of the chefs he’s worked with over the years to do their own food. Nick Martin and Jared Ralls will have key roles in the kitchen, which will turn out family-style dishes like whole fish and a “roast beast of the day” at moderate prices.
The restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner five days a week at first, with an eye towards daily service shortly thereafter. No phone number as of yet, but the Primitivo has an active presence on Twitter @eatprimitivo.
Chef Cody Carroll first came to my attention when he won the 2013 Louisiana Seafood Cook-off. He and his wife Samantha operated Hot Tails in New Roads, Louisiana, and had already developed a reputation as skilled cooks. In March, the pair opened Sac-a-Lait at 1051 Annunciation St., in the space that was most recently a Sun Ray Grill.
Carroll and his brothers Trey and Todd designed and renovated the space themselves, using pine salvaged from a nearby cotton warehouse for the tables and family photographs for much of the décor. From the crushed oyster shells in the bar (and oyster bar) to the pork curing in salt in a corner, just about everything is from our region.
The chef cooks an updated version of blackened redfish on superheated squares of slate, and the broth for his “River Gumbo” is made with roasted frog leg bones. His fried backstrap of venison is a take on the hunting camp dish he grew up eating, but here he substitutes gnocchi for the bread and andalouse sauce (essentially roasted red pepper aioli) for the ketchup.
The Carrolls credit chef de cuisine Bradley Andries for the gnocchi and other Italian-influenced dishes on the menu. Andries, a Baton Rouge native, spent three years after culinary school cooking in Italy.
Sac-A-Lait is currently open for dinner Tuesdays through Saturdays from 5 to 10 p.m. (11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays) and for brunch on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call 324-3658 to make a reservation.
You might miss Kin, a new restaurant in Central City, even if you drive past the address at 4600 Washington Ave. It is an oddly shaped building on a triangular lot between Clio and S. Clark streets. Look for it, though, because it’s one of the more interesting restaurants to open here in years.
Chefs Hieu Than and Nate Nguyen, both New Orleans natives, opened Kin in March with little fanfare. Both chefs are of Vietnamese descent, but while certain elements of the menu reflect their background, their cooking is more influenced by their experience working in fine-dining restaurants. The frequently changing menu has appetizers such as shrimp and papaya and shell-on fried Gulf shrimp served on crisp shrimp chips with papaya slaw garnished with cherry tomatoes, herbs, cilantro flowers and chile gelatin, while entrées include a five-spice braised duck confit with potato spaetzle, roasted beets, wilted greens and duck confit in a broth that marries Japanese dashi with duck demi-glace.
Than told me that sous chef Matt Engle shares his passion for ramen, and the restaurant plans to offer the noodle soup when they open for lunch in late April. The restaurant is BYO (no corkage) at the moment but should have its liquor license by the time you read this.
Kin is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, from 5 until 9:30 p.m. during the week and until 10 p.m. on weekends. There are only about 25 seats in the restaurant, so I’d recommend you make a reservation by calling 304-8557.