Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Change is Constant at Boucherie

When Boucherie took over the former location of Iris in late 2008, this tiny restaurant begotten from a purple food truck quickly became the hottest table in town. Sure, the popularity could be explained partly by the nuance, but what really created buzz was that food of this caliber had never before been served at such affordable prices. Plus, the restaurant had no corkage fee in the beginning, which enabled lushes to ingratiate themselves without the standard markup.

But eventually, the novelty wears off, and a restaurant's true mettle shows, right? Well, two years later, Boucherie is still a tough table to score. How does Chef Nathaniel Zimet do it? First, his food is consistently delicious across the board, and he has till managed to keep the prices laughably low. But in order to keep patrons on their toes and avoid falling into a lull in the kitchen, Boucherie has employed a theme that has served them well: constant change.

About every month, Boucherie rolls out a new menu - sometimes influenced by a particular ethnic cuisine, often times based on what local products are seasonably available. So, for example, my dinner in July had a distinct Indian flair, with offerings such as Grillled Paneer in yellow curry and Curry Leaf Marinated Duck Breast over creamy lentils and sauced with a cooling cucumber and mint raita (pictured above). Usually the main component of a dish remains the same but is injected with new flavors. Hence, in September, that same duck breast is cooked in an adobo sauce and served with fried plantains and black bean rice.

Even though Chef Zimet is continually updating the menu, there are a few dishes that have always remained on the menu, lest their ardent fans riot if they were rotated out. Remember: Change is good. But if ain't broke, don't fix it. So you can always start a meal at Boucherie with long, thin, cripsy french fries dressed with a shower of grated parmesan and crunchy coated boudin balls dipped in aioli. Likewise for the pulled pork cake with purple cabbage cole slaw (left), which benefits from several dashes of the spicy vinegar which adorn the brown butcher paper covered tables. The St. Louis Style Ribs and Wagyu Brisket? Not going anywhere either.

When talking about one of New Orleans' grande dames restaurants whose food has noticeably slipped over the past few years, Rene has proposed a solution for its return to glory: "What if you bring one of these really strong rising chefs and tell him: 'Look, you need to keep this 50% of the menu the same because that is what our patrons know and love to come here for. The rest of the menu, do whatever you want.'"

The kitchen at Boucherie uses a similar theory: They are committed to those dishes that they know their customers cannot live without, but the rest of the menu allows for constant creativity. I'm just glad to know that I can always get a slice of Krispy Kreme bread pudding for dessert.

5 comments:

termite said...

address, please.

Rene said...

8115 Jeannette St.

About a block of Carrollton.

Anonymous said...

Might have been an off night, but we went to Boucherie about 2 weeks ago and it was just a-ight. Nothing special from all three diners plates. And you are right, it was a hard reservation to get!

Anonymous said...

Felt the same...went there with a gift certificate in hand and left feeling so so. The menu was adventurous, the kitchen just couldn't deliver. And the Krispy Kreme bread pudding? Dry and burnt and certainly not a selling point for the restaurant.

Anonymous said...

I didn't care for it either. The bartender didn't know how to make a sidecar, the garlic aoili tasted like a glob of cheap store brand mayonnaise, and my entree was served lukewarm. My Krispy Kreme bread pudding also dry and burnt and a total letdown from the hype built around it. The only reason I'll go back is if a friend wants to celebrate a birthday, etc. there.