Tuesday, March 21, 2018. Briquette Again, Screaming. I dine for the third time at Briquette, one of the newest restaurants in the rapidly growing Warehouse District. It’s operated by A. J. Tusa, who has several restaurants in the area of the Convention Center. Briquette is certainly the best of Tusa’s restaurants, with a handsome dining room and an interesting menu of Creolisms.
Two aspects of Briquette stand out. The chef spent a few years working with Gerard Crozier, who was one of the best French chefs in the history of New Orleans dining. Crozier was one of those rare cooks who seemed to have a genuine touch of magic in his cooking. Every time I asked him for a recipe, he was generous with the formulae, even letting me watch through the process. But for some reason the recipes never came out quite like they did when Gerard was doing the cooking.
The other impressive side of Briquette is that on any given night they’ll have a half-dozen or more whole finfish available. Several of these are sold as whole fish. Of these they not only have a selection of species, but enough specific specimen to make the place come across like a really good-looking fish market.
I begin with the kind of orange, thick soups the restaurants around town have thrown at us a lot lately. I welcome this in wintertime. Tonight’s soup is made of tomatoes and fennel. The featured whole fish was swordfish, which I am always ready to sample.
In the middle of all this an alarm went off with a screaming but cartoonish effect. It was the kind of alert that make you wonder whether to bolt for the door–but you don’t, because if it’s a false alarm, someone might accuse you from running out on the check.
But then you see that the staff is trying to turn this thing off, but neither succeeding nor chasing after anyone. Finally, the chef emerges from the back rooms. He steps up to the yelling unit, and immediately quells its attack upon your eardrums. If you ever need to have a problem checked in a restaurant, ask for the chef. He or she is likely to be the only one who really knows what’s going on.
The swordfish is delicious, as it always has been during the past couple of years. I get no discount or coupon for having put up with the painful alarm (it broadcast its problems for at least three minutes) and continue running up a $75 pre-tip bill.
Somewhat irregular happening like this keep Briquette in the semi-amateur state, through which most restaurants pass when they’re new. When they get things together, this will be a good place for visitors to New Orleans will find some good Creole eating before or after their meetings and expositions.
Briquette. CBD: 701 S Peters St. 504 302-7496.