WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY
On a one-block-long back street in the zone where the Central Business District fuzzes over into the Warehouse District, Capdeville has a highly specific clientele. Those who work in the courts and in law offices dominate the micro-local population. They must break for lunch on a tight (and sometimes off-center) schedule. After they knock off, many of them–particularly the younger professionals, those with not much awaiting at home–favor the prospect of a drink and maybe something to eat, nothing complicated, maybe at a sidewalk table? Well, here it is.
The bar is where the action is, and the pub-style food centers the menu. So you have good hamburgers (with unique variations) accompanied by their best friends (fresh-cut fries, which are excellent with a cocktail). But then the menu heads off into the purview of a gourmet bistro, with well-meaning, creative dishes that taste better than they look or sound. (Example: the delicious oysters Rockefeller etouffee, whose appearance and texture are unappealing.)
Robert LeBlanc, Matt Alleman, and James Eustis opened Capdeville on New Year’s Eve 2009. Capdeville was the second of a loose trio of new bar-resto fusions. (Sylvain was the first, Ste. Marie came after). It’s named for the street, which in turn is named for Paul Capdeville, mayor of New Orleans 1900-1904.
On the ground floor of the Intellectual Property Building (!), the restaurant is simultaneously stylish and hurriedly-hewn, with a swell-looking bar area but concrete floors showing the many scars of long, hard use. Go to the restroom and it seems like you’ve entered an entirely different building. The dining room is big and dark, with unclothed tables and heavy schoolmarm chairs. Overwhelming all other atmosphere is the juke box’s too-loud music of a category I find hard to tune in.
»Fried red beans and rice, green onion aioli, reduced hot sauce
Meat pies, red pepper coulis
»Jalapeno, sweet corn and cheddar fritters, poblano coulis
Smoked salmon deviled eggs, pickled peppers, caper berries
»Bruschetta of the day
Poutine fries (mozzarella cheese curd, sauce au poivre)
Chorizo and manchego fries
»Truffle parmesan fries
Soup of the day
»Tomato fennel soup, basil pistou
Steak salad (iceberg wedge, tomatoes, pickled vegetables, blue cheese)
Fresh tomato salad, arugula, olives, fried goat cheese
»Spinach salad with strawberries, goat cheese, pecans
Cucumber salad, scallions, cilantro, red curry vinaigrette
»Capdeville burger (sauce au poivre, fried onions, lettuce, gruyere, garlic aioli)
Mayor burger (gouda, onions, smoked chili ketchup)
Black and blue burger (blue cheese, bacon, onions)
Robert Paulson burger (turkey meatloaf, onions, spinach, tomato, fried egg)
Portobello mushroom sandwich, chevre, arugula, red onions, peppers
»Grilled cheese on sourdough
»Duck confit club
Turkey sandwich, arugula, tomatoes, parmesan, avocado
»Oysters Rockefeller etouffee, shrimp infused rice
Hanger steak, red wine butter, blue cheese, fries
»Chicken paillard, wilted spinach, citrus rice
Pork cakes, grits, pork jus
»Truffled mac and cheese, brown butter, sage, pancetta, peas
»Fish of the day
»Banana bread pudding, rum caramel
Chocolate custard, strawberry-red wine sauce
Seasonal cobbler, ice cream
FOR BEST RESULTS
Get the burger and fries, both of which are first-class. The seafood specials and the odd bruschetta of the day are always worth a look. Well-made, beautiful salads.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
Here is another restaurant that doesn’t seem to understand the concept of courses. (Or has too many rushed diners.) They might bring out everything you ordered at the same time.
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 +1
- Value +1
- Attitude +2
- Wine & Bar +1
- Hipness +2
- Local Color +1
- Sidewalk tables
- Good for business meetings
- Open after midnight (1 a.m. FR SA)
- Open all afternoon FR SA
- Unusually large servings
- Quick, good meal
- Reservations accepted
ANECDOTES AND ANALYSIS
Is it a bar, or is it a restaurant? This is the question we find ourselves asking about many establishments these days. Studying the clientele at various after-five hour, I’d say Capdeville is more of a bar. On the other hand, at each of these observations, I ate three or four courses of food. Except for the time a hamburger was my entree, the food showed at least ambitions beyond those of a neighborhood restaurant. Whether these strivings were limited by the kitchen’s abilities or the wants of the diners is a question deserving of a second cocktail. Which, like the first one, will be well made and perhaps original.