Chef Serigne Mbaye, who has heretofore run a pop up featuring the cuisine of Senegal, has opened a permanent Dakar NOLA establishment on Magazine Street. Mbaye received a James Beard nomination this year for best emerging chef, and was named chef of the year by the local Eater outlet in 2021.

This fellow has a pedigree, having worked at Michelin-starred restaurants Atelier Crenn in San Francisco and L’Atellier de Joel Robuchon in New York before coming to New Orleans where he worked at Commander’s Palace.

His new venture is open Wednesday through Saturday for dinner, with one seating at 7:00 p.m. It’s a fixed, 7-course tasting menu that I will reproduce for you from the release I got today:

The seven-course tasting menu opens with Ataya, a welcome course of Senegalese tea made with gunpowder tea leaves and palm oil bread also called Mburu in the Wololf language. The first appetizer course: Crevette, features Gulf shrimp and tamarind. The second appetizer course: Last Meal, is Chef Serigne's take on a traditional Senegalese dish consisting of black-eyed peas, crab meat, and palm oil. The next course is a Fonio Salad, considered a West African treasure, and made with West African millet, citrus, finger limes, tomatoes, and a satsuma vinaigrette. Jollof, the next course on the tasting menu, is West Africa’s iconic rice dish. Chef Serigne’s dish will change often and comes from his heart and soul. The sixth course: Yassa, refers to a spicy Senegalese dish. Chef Serigne crafts his with redfish, mustard greens, and butternut squash. The final course: Jerejef, or “thank you” in Wolof, is a Thiakry pie, sweetened millet couscous that becomes even more delicious with ataya ice cream and mint.

There are things on this menu with which I am unfamiliar but would like to know more, and then there are things that remind me of our local cuisine but which appear to be different enough that I am similarly intrigued.

Dakar Nola is located at 3814 Magazine St., and as noted above is open Wednesday through Saturday for dinner, with a seating at 7:00. There’s space for 30 diners, and the meal costs $150/person. It’s also BYOB, as they don’t yet have a liquor license.

The New Orleans Wine and Food Experience is going to be honoring Chef Susan Spicer with the 2023 Ella Brennan Lifetime Achievement in Hospitality Award. The honor will be bestowed at the Four Seasons Hotel on January 12.

It’s a very deserved award for a chef who has meant far more to the local culinary scene than most people know. Chef Spicer has not often sought publicity; she’s the sort of chef who is in the kitchen every night. She’s won a lot of awards and been recognized by publications around the world. She’s a wildly talented chef and she’s also been a mentor to a lot of cooks. She’s also always been involved in the community and the sort of person who will do whatever she can to help someone in need.

When I recommend restaurants to folks from out of town, Bayona is one I’m always comfortable including. I know that chef Spicer and Regina Keever, her partner in the restaurant, will make sure their guests have a great meal and a good time. 

I hope that you are dealing with the sudden onset of winter better than I am. I love cold weather despite the fact we see it so rarely, but for the first time in years I appear to have come down with some sort of flu. I blame my wife, because my wife got it before me and yet she did not refuse me when I kissed her. More than once.

Gross negligence say I, but I do not believe it would hold up in a courtroom unless I had the right jury.