Restaurant Insider

September brings the end of summer on the calendar, regardless of what the thermometer says. It’s not uncommon to have balmy temperatures for Halloween but September always puts me, at least, in the mindset of fall and colder weather – that’s either optimism or naiveté, depending on your perspective.

Chef Chris DeBarr (right) has left the Delachaise more or less amicably and, as we go to print, hasn’t settled anywhere new on a permanent basis. He will be in a kitchen somewhere or other soon but it’s a frustrating interim for fans of his imaginative, ambitious cooking. DeBarr is exploring his options and I hope to have something more definite to report next month.

DeBarr’s position in the kitchen at the Delachaise (3442 St. Charles Ave.) has been taken by his former sous chef, RJ Tsarov, who has maintained something akin to the same menu. The specials the last few times I’ve been were toned down a bit, but that’s to be expected and hopefully Tsarov will find his own direction. I did have a very good grilled tuna kabob with cous cous and an excellent spiced goat cheese stuffed pastry made with phyllo that reminded me of the Brik pastry at Jamilla’s (7808 Maple St.).

Curry Corner (1200 S. Carrollton Ave.) has opened at the corner of S. Carrollton Avenue and Oak Street. It features cafeteria-style cuisine, with at least four selections for an entrée and usually a couple of vegetable side dishes from which to choose. The restaurant is run by the same folks who own Sara’s (724 Dublin St.) in the riverbend and if you’re familiar with Ganesh’s food there, you’ll be comfortable. The food at Curry Corner exceeded my expectations for a cafeteria-style setup. I had some excellent eggplant in a sweet and sour sauce, ground lamb with potatoes and cauliflower and Tikka Masala. The restaurant generally has at least one non-Indian dish available; I hope they drop that particular aspect, because Curry Corner would be a good place to become experience with the cuisine of the Subcontinent.

Chef Randy Lewis (left) has taken over for Chef Rene Bajeux at La Provence (25020 Highway 190, Lacombe). Lewis’ last job in New Orleans was at Indigo, the now-closed restaurant off Esplanade Avenue, and his return to the local dining scene is welcome. His cooking, at the time he left, was described as “refined Southern,” but he always had strong French influences so he’s likely to do well in Lacombe.

Bajeux, meanwhile, left on good terms and has expressed an interest in coming back to the south shore. His eponymous restaurant in the Pere Marquette, now home to MiLa (817 Common St.) was one of the best in the city and hopefully he’ll be back in a New Orleans kitchen by the time you read this. Yes, I know that’s the second time I’ve expressed that sentiment in this column. Sue me. No, wait, please don’t.

Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Email Peyton: rdpeyton@gmail.com.

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