Dozen Best Offbeat Dishes With Beans
Because beans have such a powerful identity as a main dish around New Orleans, their goodness and versatility as a supporting component don’t get enough credit. The best chefs make masterpieces from otherwise ordinary dishes by adding beans somewhere. Here are some fine local examples of that. In all of these, the beans are unexpected, except perhaps among advanced students of the culinary arts. So don’t look here for red beans and rice, lentil soup, barbecue beans, cassoulet, hummus or its kin, or just about anything Mexican. However, you will find some examples of pairing beans with seafood, a fantastically promising combination I have been touting for years.
1. Martinique. Uptown: 5908 Magazine. 504-891-8495. Cassoulet is a classic French country dish we almost never find on local menus. This one is white beans with duck sausage and confit, bacon and andouille. Especially good in cool weather.
2. Galvez. French Quarter: 914 N Peters. 504-595-3400. A decidedly Spanish dish,and a fine example of the affinity of seafood and beans. Fresh, local red snapper, white beans, avocado, tomatoes, and a warm green olive salad.
3. La Thai Cuisine. Uptown: 4938 Prytania. 504-899-8886 . Red hot chili pepper curry with green beans is the English name for a classic Thai dish with the embarrassing name pad prik king. Great here. Another good version is at Thailicious in Slidell.
4. RioMar. Warehouse District: 800 S Peters. 504-525-3474. The Spanish seafood specialist brings various beans to bear in its dishes. This one is pan-roasted black drum with steamed clams, curried chickpeas, and a peach compote.
5. Ristorante Del Porto. Covington: 501 E Boston St. 985-875-1006. We never fail to start the meal at this superb Italian restaurant without the hummus-like but very Tuscan puree of white beans and artichokes. One bite is very convincing.
6. Borgne. CBD: 601 Loyola Ave (Hyatt Regency Hotel). 504-613-3860. Interesting salad here, made with the big butterbeans, asparagus, country ham, arugula, and olives.
7. Coffee Pot. French Quarter: 714 St Peter. 504-524-3500. The original red bean omelette was created here decades ago, and is still delicious. It’s exactly what it sounds like, but tastes much better. A bit of melted cheese inside pulls it together. The Camellia Cafes on the North Shore also do this well.
8. Cafe Granada. Carrollton: 1506 S Carrollton Ave. 504-865-1612. Fabada is a South American stew of baby lima beans, artichokes, and tomatoes in a broth with a little vinegar for sharpness. Delicious.
9. New Orleans Food & Spirits. ||Harvey: 2330 Lapalco Blvd. 504-362-0800. Bucktown: 210 Hammond Hwy. 504-828-2220. ||Covington: 208 Lee Lane. 985-875-0432. The white beans that run as the Thursday special are pretty close to the standard New Orleans beanpile. But the main part of the dish is stewed rabbit–a fantastic and offbeat combination. Also good: same beans with fried catfish.
10. Blue Plate Cafe. Lee Circle/Lower Garden District: 1330 Prytania. 504-309-9500. The Southshore omelette (I don’t know what they call it that) encloses chili, corn, cilantro, onions, cheese, and black beans. It’s one of several breakfasts here that involves beans as a side note. Another is huevos rancheros, a popular breakfast dish Uptown. (It’s also found at Coulis, Surrey’s, and Panola Street Cafe.)
11. Carmo. Warehouse District: 527 Julia. 504-861-7763. This is a semi-vegetarian restaurant with a Caribbean tilt. The Esmaralda salad shows both qualities, with black beans, corn, peppers, quinoa, cilantro, coconut chili lime vinaigrette, pumpkin seeds, and cotija cheese.
12. Louisiana Pizza Kitchen. French Quarter: 95 French Market Place. 504-522-9500. A complete departure from the standard pizza, the Southwestern pie here is made with roasted chicken, semi-purees black beans instead of tomato sauce, and cilantro instead of basil. Great, especially if you ask for a little tomato sauce too.