I like to think of myself as a keen observer of humans. I have had the opportunity to observe chef Chris DeBarr for a number of years, sometimes quite closely. I find him to be one of the more interesting people I’ve encountered and only in part because of his eclectic, imaginative cooking. DeBarr has popped up at various places over the past few years, and I’ve enjoyed his cooking at each, though he hasn’t always had the freedom he did at the Delachaise, where I first met him.
I am an optimist and have been called naïve, but whenever a chef I like turns up at a new place, I convince myself that it makes sense, even when it sometimes doesn’t. It’s easy to convince oneself, though, when one wants to believe. I think chefs and restaurateurs do the same thing.
I attended a press event a number of years ago when a chef took over the kitchens at a Northshore restaurant with its own farm. The chef took us on a tour, and he was enthusiastic about the kitchens, the farms, and the things he was going to cook there. He lasted about a year. I’m told it was a difference in expectations on both sides, and the parting was amicable, but I sure thought it was going to work at the time.
I say this to acknowledge that sometimes I am wrong about a particular pairing of chef and kitchen, but nevertheless I am excited to hear DeBarr is going to be cooking at Revel, because that’s a great place and I really like Chris and Laura McMillian, who run it.
I have spent more time with Mr. McMillian behind the bar than I probably should’ve. I don’t regret a minute. He’s “old-school,” I guess, but more because of his style than the drinks he pours. In all, I can’t really imagine a better place for chef DeBarr than perhaps if Salvador Dali rose from the dead to open a 12-seat restaurant in Mid-City.
I’m looking forward to visiting because it’s been a long time since I’ve tasted DeBarr’s food or had McMillian make me a drink. I will take notes and report, but if you have been, please let me know what you thought.