News and Surprises
Herbsaint is one of the best restaurants in New Orleans and I haven’t been there in far too long. It is one of the restaurants, along with another I’m going to mention shortly, that I have 100% confidence in recommending to anyone who comes to New Orleans.
I love the people behind it, too, as I’ve written many times. I did not realize that Herbsaint is turning 20. In celebration, Herbsaint’s chef de cuisine David Rouse is putting out a menu that includes a bunch of dishes from Herbsaint’s early days. From the release I received recently, these include:
Shrimp with Green Chile Grits and Tasso Cream Sauce; Rabbit Pappardelle with Artichokes, Mushrooms and Marsala; Grilled Flatbread with Fennel Sausage, Jalapeño and Provolone; Post-K Meatloaf with Mashed Potatoes; and Pan Roasted Salmon with Lentils and Ravigote. For 20 days, beginning Oct. 14, Chef David will offer three nightly specials reminiscent of the dishes served over the past 20 years.
I hope I can get over there soon. On the off chance you’ve never been: go.
The restaurant I alluded to above, that I also am comfortable recommending to anyone, is Boucherie. It is also an outstanding restaurant run by people I like a great deal, and I had the good fortune to dine at their new patio recently.
Boucherie has always been a pretty intimate place. The converted residence has, at the best of times, probably only seated 25 or so people in the dining rooms and maybe six on the narrow front porch. Under the current restrictions the indoor seating is scant to say the least, so the new outdoor space built alongside the structure is welcome.
The food was as good as ever. I was the only one in our party who’d been there before, so I ordered us a couple of orders of the boudin balls (which come with an aioli) and the fries, which are among the best in town if you like your fries thin and crispy. I had halibut with roasted pumpkin, pumpkin seeds and a satsuma sabayon, and it was delicious but I still felt like I should have ordered differently when the friend next to me had the St. Louis style pork ribs set in front of him. As with Herbsaint, on the off chance you’ve not been to Boucherie: go.
To wrap things up I’ll relate another meal I had at a local restaurant, and this one was one of the most surprising meals I’ve had in years. It was at Soulé Café, on Banks Street, and I was there for a business meeting last week.
As an aside, may I say how unbelievably happy I am that I was able to have a business meeting at a table outside of Soulé Café? I love this City sometimes.
We sat down in the early afternoon, but none of the five of us had eaten and we ordered some appetizers. I knew that Soulé has a lot of vegetarian items on their menu because they work with Chef’s Brigade, but there are 80 or so restaurants working with Chef’s Brigade and I suppose I’d forgotten. Everything we had was good – the onion rings are seasoned right and have just enough batter to be crispy without making me feel like I’m eating an onion-flavored pretzel. I also liked the fried cauliflower. It’s sweet, but there’s a spicy dipping sauce that balances it and I tend to like the combination of sweet and savory. It’s a bit disconcerting when you take the first bite, and almost sweet enough that I was put off, but then I kept eating it and found I had competition from everyone else at the table. We ordered more.
The real surprise was the sliders. Not because they were delicious; they were, but so was everything else. What was surprising was that they were made with Impossible burger.
I enjoy vegetables and regularly make vegetarian meals. Hell, sometimes I’ll cook a vegan meal, though usually inadvertently. I am not as fond of vegetables masquerading as meat, but I absolutely would not have known I’d eaten a meat-substitute had chef Kina not alerted me. I suppose I should not be surprised. These products have come a long way from the days of lentil/nut loaf.
But I was surprised, and I had a conversation Wednesday with another of the folks at that meeting and mentioned I was going to write about the experience. He said, “Wait, that wasn’t beef?” And he knows the restaurant, too.
It was a burger, not a steak, and it’s possible that had I known in advance I’d have perceived it differently. I am not going to forgo ground beef – let alone any actual cut – but I will definitely keep an open mind on these things going forward. And again, you should definitely check out Soulé. Great folks and great food.