Jacques Saleun and his wife Paige opened Chateau du Lac in Kenner in 2005. I remember hearing about the place shortly thereafter, but it wasn’t until the couple moved their operation to Old Metairie that I had a chance to find out why he was getting so much attention.
Chateau du Lac is a bistro; the food is rustic for the most part and the service and atmosphere are fairly casual. The prices are a bit higher than you’d expect for a bistro, but given the restaurant’s popularity it’s hard to argue with Saleun’s formula.
Recently Saleun opened a second location of Chateau du Lac in the Warehouse District, appropriately enough called Chateau du Lac Warehouse Bistro, in the space that formerly housed La Boca, at 857 Fulton Street. The first thing you’ll notice when you walk up to the place are the large-scale photographs printed on metal sheets that are so highly defined they look more real than reality. The images are of food and/or Paris, for the most part, but whatever the subject they’re eye-catching.
La Boca has always been one of my favorite restaurants in town, but I loved the place despite the limitations imposed by the space. Credit to Chateau du Lac that at least some of the claustrophobic vibe the place used to have has been eliminated. You still need to duck as you enter if you’re over six feet in height, but overall the place feels more expansive than it once did.
The menu at Chateau du Lac Warehouse Bistro doesn’t deviate much from what you’d find at the Metairie Road location, and that’s understandable. Why mess with something that works, particularly when that something is French bistro fare. Saleun is entirely capable of cooking outside of the bistro standards, and no doubt will soon be offering specials that do just that, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with doing something classic as long as you do it right.
So far my experience with the Warehouse location of Chateau du Lac has been positive. Escargots Bourguignons come sizzling in butter that’s not overpowered by garlic as is the case in most versions of the dish. The bright green herbs are actually discernable here, and the butter is no less delicious when mopped up with fresh bread.
The fish of the day on my last visit was puppy drum, which came with green beans and broccoli over a beurre blanc sauce and garnished with a little diced tomato concassé. The fish was barely cooked through, which is to say it was perfectly cooked. The vegetables were also barely cooked; which is fine, and no doubt what the kitchen intended, but I prefer my broccoli, at least, to spend a bit more time under heat than appears fashionable these days.
All considered my meal at Chateau du Lac Warehouse Bistro was a good one. It’s a place to which I’ll definitely return, because there are a half dozen other items on the menu I’d very much like to try – steak tartare, for example, or the endives au gratin. It’s within walking distance from my office as well, which is always a plus, since I tend to eat out more at lunch than dinner.
I hope Chateau du Lac Warehouse Bistro does well, because Saleun is serving the kind of food that used to be ubiquitous on fine-dining menus, but which these days is harder and harder to find.
If you’ve been, please let me know what you thought; whether you’ve been or not, please let me know your favorite local bistros.