ANECDOTES AND ANALYSIS
From the time it opened and still today, the story of Boucherie is delightfully eccentric. It began as a food truck specializing in barbecue. The big purple van is still in existence and shows up unpredictably at events. But years ago it expanded it concept inside The Old Creole Cottage at 8115 Jeanette Street. It was was never quite big enough for the kitchen’s ambitions, and in 2015 it pivoted around the corner to a much more spacious–but still far from enormous–bistro. The menu remains the same–Creole and Cajun with hints of barbecue. And when they want to do something special–like the monthly wine-centric pop-ups–they return to the Creole Cottage. It helps to be a regular to keep up with what Chef-owner Nathaniel Zimet is doing now.
WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY
Boucherie–French for the place where the butcher works–is the keystone of the culinarily attractive and diverse corner of South Carrollton Avenue and Jeannette Streets. It shares the corner with a Lebanese cafe, a slick Thai restaurant and a Mexican cantina, and seems no more conventional than any of those. Its menu taps into the current for barbecue and Southern cooking, with a fair amount of contemporary American (as opposed to Creole or Cajun) specialties. Prices in the entree department are surprisingly low. Mixing small plates and large to make a meal is a good strategy here, one encouraged by the staff.
Although smoked meats, vegetables, and seafood loom large on the menu, this is not really a barbecue house. The menu used the smoked foods as a leitmotif. The plates that come to the table have the complexity of the food in the other bistros, but with strikingly original and different flavor compositions. I notice, as I update the menu for this review, that the main ingredients of almost every dish are the same as on a previous menu, but with the garnishes changed enough to become really new items and flavors.
Chef Nathaniel Zimet cooked in a number of estimable local restaurant kitchens (Ralph’s, Stella!, and Iris among them) before firing up the purple van and selling food on concert nights at Tipatina’s. When Iris moved to the French Quarter in 2008, Zimet took over the old Iris space to cook barbecue. His ambitions grew quickly, and Boucherie soon was a new kind of restaurant.
The new premises have high ceilings, walls that run through the main area and somehow make it feel bigger than it is, and a bar that opens into the kitchen. Sidewalk tables add further environmental appeal and space–although a reservation is a very good idea. The service staff is sophisticated and entertaining.
Grilled heart of romaine caesar salad
Arugula salad with tomatoes, red onion & herb vinaigrette
»Blackened shrimp, grits cake, bacon vinaigrette
Boudin balls, garlic aioli
»Steamed mussels, collard greens, grits crackers
Hamachi sashimi, pickled vegetables, collard greens, grits fries
French fries, garlic butter, parmesan reggiano
»Crawfish tortilla soup, crawfish crème fraîche, smoked coriander, pickled green tomato & herbs
»Crispy skin duck confit, sweet onion dumpling, burnt rye, beet chips, dirty martini bagna cauda
»Smoked Wagyu beef brisket, garlicky parmesan fries
»St Louis-style ribs, creamed green onions, house made American(!) cheese & fried shallots
»Pulled pork cake, potato confit, purple cabbage cole slaw
»Pan-seared duck breast, duck ragout, gnocchi Bolognese & garlicky rapini
Pan seared redfish with red potato salad, deviled artichoke & diced radish
»Applewood smoked scallops, wood grilled root vegetables, lemongrass soubise, kaffir lime aioli
»Thai chili chocolate chess pie
Krispy Kreme bread pudding
»House made ice cream
Seasonal chocolate ganache terrine
FOR BEST RESULTS
Boucherie is unexpectedly adept at creating cocktails, and you should begin the meal with one of their many originals. Lunch is less densely packed than dinner, although the menus (and prices) are nearly identical.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
Some of the tables are too small to serve well–a problem they had at the Creole Cottage, too.
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 +1
- Consistency +2
- Value +2
- Attitude +2
- Wine & Bar +1
- Hipness +3
- Local Color +2
- Sidewalk tables
- Curbside parking within a couple of blocks.
- Reservations recommended