WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY
Bistro Daisy modest size and playful name understate its excellence to passers-by, who may drive in front of the place hundreds of times without giving it a second thought. (The non-availibility of obvious parking spaces doesn’t help.) However, we find food at least on a par with that of the best small restaurants around town, and better than many of the big ones. Its kitchen is just hip enough, and uses familiar local fresh foodstuffs in interesting but unpuzzling innovations.
Chef Anton Schulte’s style is hard not to love. He has a fine sense of what tastes good, and enough experience in major kitchens to have a wide-ranging skill set. Bistro Daisy reaches into the New Orleans culinary past for come of its inspirations, but you might have to be my age or older to pick up on that. It comes across as fresh and adventuresome as well as local in its flavors..
Anton and Diane Schulte are a young couple with the added complication of a little kid (whose name is Daisy, like her grandmother’s). They first turned up at Peristyle during the great Anne Kearney years, then developed the initial cuisine of La Petite Grocery. After a couple of years the Schultes went on their own, moving into the former Ristorante Civello. It was magic from there on.
Diane Schulte orchestrates service, the bar, and the wine collection. The trio of small dining rooms have high ceilings, wood-plank floors, a real fireplace with a fake fire (they can’t afford to give up the table in front of it), and big windows. The ceilings are painted unusually in a trompe l’oeil manner. It’s a superb example of a cottage-to-restaurant conversion–something that is more often wrong than right.
»»Crabmeat, horseradish aioli, chilled roasted beets
Daisy salad (fresh mozzarella, peppers, arugula, pumpkin seeds)
»Grilled sweetbreads, bacon, pecans, sweet potato fries, white wine browned butter
Gala apple and watercress salad, toasted walnuts, blue cheese, apple cider vinaigrette
»Gulf oysters poached in Herbsaint, cream, bacon, fennel, spinach
Filet of beef, Lyonnaise potatoes, spinach, Amish blue cheese, red wine demi-glace and truffle oil
»Mint-braised lamb leg, saute of ricotta gnocchi, broccoli rabe, Nicoise olives, pine nuts, tomato-mint ragout
Gulf shrimp, pancetta, sun-dried tomato-basil beurre blanc, goat cheese grits, roasted fennel
»Crispy leg of duck confit topped with breast slices, spinach, almond, toasted garlic couscous, apricot-brandy reduction
»»Pan roasted, porcini-dusted chicken; roasted mushroom, shallot and parmesan risotto; thyme reduction
»Roasted garlic, artichoke and parmesan ravioli, jumbo lump crabmeat, herb and tomato cream
»Bouillabaisse of fresh gulf seafood, saffron-Herbsaint broth, grilled crouton and rouille
Daily fish special
»Vanilla bean creme brulee, fresh berries
»Warm chocolate ganache and peanut butter mousse-filled crepes, bruleed banana, Bourbon caramel
Berry creamsicle baked Alaska, Champagne-vanilla bean creme anglaise
House-made ice cream or sorbet, shortbread cookie
FOR BEST RESULTS
Parking requires at least a half-block’s walk, if you’re lucky. The best place to look for curbside spots is on Nashville Avenue, on the river side of Magazine. Reservations are a must; this is a small restaurant with many fans.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
When the restaurant is full of joyous spirits, the sound level can get pretty loud.
FACTORS OTHER THAN FOOD
Up to three points, positive or negative, for these characteristics. Absence of points denotes average performance in the matter.
- Dining Environment +2
- Consistency +2
- Value +1
- Attitude +2
- Wine & Bar +2
- Hipness +2
- Local Color +3
- Reservations honored promptly
ANECDOTES AND ANALYSIS
Magazine Street and its environs were the birthplace of the gourmet Creole bistro, then and still the most exciting and interesting segment of the local dining market. Bistro Daisy is a textbook example of the genre. Chef-owned, smallish, a menu ever in flux, and patronized by a substantial cadre of regulars.