Bar and Café in the Catahoula Hotel
Once upon a time, Peruvian food was supposed to be the next big thing. There is a good reason for that: it’s a fascinating cuisine, and there’s a wide array of dishes.
It hasn’t really caught on here, but that may change with the opening of the Bar and Café in the Catahoula Hotel. Executive chef Billy LaCrosse collaborated with chef Dana Honn of Carmo on a menu that features classic Peruvian cuisine with a modern twist. As I write, the kitchen is working on its venting system, so the menu is composed of cold dishes such as raw fish preparations like ceviche and tiradito, along with salads and sandwiches.
By the time you read this, however, the menu will have expanded to include multiple versions of the dishes already on the menu, as well as four or five versions of causa, a dish based, literally, on chilled mashed potatoes seasoned with aji chiles and lime. Chef LaCrosse plans versions topped with shrimp, white anchovies, artichokes and a fresh fish that will change daily. In the summer, he anticipates multiple gazpachos using seasonal ingredients such as watermelon and tomato with avocado and cucumber. He emphasized that there will be vegan options for most of the dishes on the menu.
The Café and Bar at the Catahoula Hotel are located at 914 Union St., and it’s open at 7 a.m. for coffee; lunch starts at 11 a.m. and food service continues until midnight or 1 a.m., seven days a week. Call 504 603 4442 to learn more.
Chris’ Specialty Meats
Chris’ Specialty Meats was started in 1994 in Maurice, Louisiana, by siblings Chris and Twyla LaChaussee. The business soon moved to Baton Rouge, which still houses the production facility; there are two retail outlets, one in Prairieville and the other, since September of last year, here in New Orleans.
As you’d guess from the name, the main reason to visit Chris’ is the meat. The place is large and ringed by freezers containing vacuum-sealed and pre-seasoned products that range from stuffed chicken to ostrich tenderloin. There is a list of what’s available at their website: ChrisSpecialtyMeats.com.
There are two basic seasonings; for beef and other red meats, Chris’ uses a blend of paprika, garlic, onion, pepper and salt, and for “white” meats, they use a Cajun seasoning that was described to me as similar to Tony Chachere’s, but with less salt and a little less heat. You can order meats un-seasoned by calling in advance. Similarly, if you want something that isn’t available in the freezers, they’ll try to find it for you.
In addition to the meats, there’s a wide range of sausages and prepared foods on offer, and Creole and Cajun products line shelves between the freezers.
Chris’ Specialty Meats is located at 6251 West End Blvd., and it’s open 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Sundays. Call 309-0010 to place an order.
Bienvenue Bar & Grill
Ryan Haro closed his eponymous coffee and chocolate shop on Carondelet Street just before Mardi Gras, but he didn’t go far. In September of last year he took over FredRick’s, a convenience store on St. Charles Avenue that also served sandwiches and plate lunches. Just before Carnival, Haro started renovations, re-opening as Bienvenue Bar & Grill as he closed his Carondelet operation.
You wouldn’t know it was a convenience store if you walk in today. The dingy drywall covering the walls has been removed to expose brick that lay underneath, and Haro has added two bars. He did retain the coolers that line the rear wall and plans to offer a variety of local and craft beers along the lines of Stein’s deli, if not as expansive.
The food at Bienvenue is also an upgrade; the onion rings are handmade as are the burgers, and the chicken is fresh, rather than frozen. In addition to burgers, poor boys and similar fare, there’s the option to order a “po’ bowl,” which he likened to the burrito bowls at Chipotle; a “bowl” of romaine leaves is filled with shredded iceberg lettuce and diced, then topped with any of the ingredients available for poor boys.
Bienvenue is located at 321 St. Charles Ave. and is open 8 a.m.-8 p.m. during the week, and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Call 587-7133 for more information.