South American Style on Metairie road
Dining on Metairie Road just got a little more exciting with the opening of Brasa, a South American-inspired steakhouse helmed by Baru alum Chef Edgar Caro. A native of Columbia, Caro took over the former Chateau du Lac earlier this year and embarked on an extensive renovation, kitting it out with a refreshed interior along with a custom, open hearth grill that serves as the heart and soul of this wood-fired churrasqueria. “What I wanted to bring to the table was the feel of a steakhouse with a more modern vibe than it had before,” Caro said.
The result is a neighborhood restaurant, a few ticks above casual, which offers a menu that samples a broad spectrum of South American fare, knit together by the unifying element of the churrasqueria. “Everything is cooked over a wood-fired grill,” Caro explained. “In addition we showcase a lot of different cuts of meat that you don’t see at many places in the U.S.” To source them, Caro developed a network of small Louisiana purveyors like Rains Farms and Homeplace Pastures to find what he needed. “Working with them I was able to get these cuts, which otherwise would be hard for me to find from the major distributors.” Rains in particular has an amazing Wagyu-style entraña, a skirt steak that Caro often runs as a special. If they have it, get it. Other good choices include the Picanha, a top sirloin with the cap left on that is a signature dish in Brazil. Both are fired up on the open grill and served with simple accompaniments, such as coal-roasted root vegetables and coarse sea salt, with little to interfere with the direct flavor of the steak save for an assortment of house-made chimichurri.
Meet The Chefs
Edgar Caro has built a strong presence in the New Orleans food scene since moving here for college from Cartagena, Columbia back in 1999. He opened the drinks and tapas hotspot Baru back in 2007 and later expanded with Basin Seafood and Spirits just down the street. For Brasa, Caro extends his reach into Old Metairie, offering a palate of South American staples and local fare cooked churrasqueria-style on an open wood hearth. The end result is a comfortable neighborhood restaurant that, along with terrific steaks, presents novel offerings such as Ajiaco, an Andean chicken stew, alongside favorites like Shrimp Remoulade.
But Brasa is more than a steakhouse. A churrasqueria is a style of open-hearth cooking that is not limited to cuts of beef. Somewhat comparable to barbecue, it differs in that it uses both direct and indirect heat and also accommodates a broader range of fare. Caro embraces this technique with offerings like whole gulf fish cooked on the bone and vegetables roasted whole in the smoldering coals. Imagine eggplant slow-cooked through to perfection, with a smokiness that can only be expressed through this approach. “A little olive oil and sea salt to finish is all you need,” Caro said. One of his favorite dishes is the Pollo a la Brasa – chicken that gets transformed in the heart of the wooden coals. “We brine the chicken to keep it moist,” said Caro. “It develops a flavor that is simple but delicious.” Going into fall keep an eye open for seasonal vegetables such as squash and pumpkin, some of which cook for hours, that benefit from this technique.
Yet at its heart Brasa remains a neighborhood spot; a place that Caro envisions regulars returning to again and again. He tailors the menu to this philosophy by rolling in popular local fare like Shrimp Remoulade along with favorites from his own childhood like Ajiaco, an Andean chicken stew seasoned with Guasca, a South American herb that is synonymous with the dish. Other comfort-food choices include a short rib-studded Mac and Cheese appetizer. At press time Brasa was open for dinner Tuesday through Sunday, with parking available out front as well as in a lot just across the street.
2037 Metairie Road, Old Metairie, 570-6338. D Tues-Sun,
Argentine Steak house
La Boca has been firing up Argentine-style steaks in the Warehouse District since 2006, making it a terrific alternative to more traditional steakhouses. Along with hard-to-find choices like the Entrana Fina con la Piel, with its crispy exterior, it also offers a terrific gnocchi – a nod to the Italian heritage that contributes to Argentine cuisine.