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Lunch at Cuvée Takes the Bite Out of Dinner
I’m a fan of Cuvée and always enjoy the chance to sample the latest and greatest of Chef Bob Iacovone’s creative compositions. The menu is high-end, but Iacovone always finds ways to lighten it with touches of humor and witty allusions to comfort foods. Examples from menus past that come to mind include his Kobe-style Meatloaf, along with his Chicken “Club” Waffle, dressed up with praline bacon, blue cheese and diced apple.
Yet despite being a fan, I don’t get to Cuvée as often as I’d like. Happily, I was able to do so recently and take advantage of its limited lunch service (lunch is served on Wednesdays and Thursdays only). If those days work for you and you’ve got a little time, Cuvée is a real treat and the lunch prices take the sting out of the ones that accompany their dinner.
Iacovone is always tinkering with the menu, but some perennials on it include his Spiced Shrimp Napoleon. In this dish, the loosely-packed jumble of shrimp are split lengthwise, creating more surface area for the tasty white remoulade sauce. A touch of cayenne puts some heat in the background, and frisee and crisp slivers of mirliton add texture and crunch. Also good was an appetizer of Honey-roasted Duck Debris; an arrangement of silver dollar-sized Johnny Cakes, tender duck and diced apple drizzled with rosemary infused Steen’s Cane syrup. Coupled with the honey in the duck, it is a savory appetizer that features a lot of sweetness. For green options, Iacovone’s Chopped Salad goes beyond basic, getting special treatment by way of the inclusion of apples, Danish Bleu Cheese and (thank you) Praline Bacon embedded in a nest of lightly-dressed mesclun.
For entrees, his upgraded Grilled Cheese Sandwich is put together with tangy goat’s milk Boucheron cheese on brioche. Fig and apple butter round out the profile and add some sweetness, which ties in nicely with the sweet brioche. The richness of another entrée, the Cochon Du Lait Cassoulet, is offset by braised greens, whose bitterness balances the unctuous nature of the pork and the velvety texture of the white beans. Also good is his Duck and Chevre Ravioli, punched up with a gastrique, featuring a reduction of orange and fresh thyme. The citrus complements the duck quite well.
Iacovone’s creamsicle ice cream, which conjures up memories of orange push up pops melting in summer heat, is featured in his Triple-Stack Chocolate Moonpie dessert. So while the menu here is accomplished, touches like this make it fun and let the air out of what might otherwise be a stuffy environment.
Tangentially, Ken LaCour and Kim Kringlie, owners of Cuvée (who, prior to Cuvée, joined forces to bring us Dakota on the Northshore), have brought in Iacovone as a partner with Rambla in the International House. Rambla is the leading edge of a new wave of tapas-style restaurants currently sweeping through the area. With this fine group of three restaurants, we may be seeing the evolution of an influential new restaurant group spreading its roots in the New Orleans area.