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.
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.
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.
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.