Betony, Carbone and Estela, three new powerhouses from NYC lost to Peche in the coveted James Beard awards as America’s Best New Restaurant. The event, held earlier this month, also awarded Ryan Prewitt, Peche’s chef and co-owner, Best Chef in the South (tie with fellow New Orleanean Sue Zemanick). As much as we cherished our meal at the more elegant and refined Betony, James Beard got this one right. Simply put, in all my years of travel and eating, Peche is like nothing we’ve ever experienced on our mainland.
When I first started looking into what to eat on this particular trip, it didnt take long before this latest Donald Link (part owner) establishment became the front-runner. Link’s Herbsaint was the top meal of the previous trip and the Peche menu was a “screaming buy” and a delight for the ants living in my keyboard (living off my drool). More often than not, high expectation arent met and things fall sometimes annoyingly short. So Its almost refreshing to not only have the most anticipated meal deliver, but also the most anticipated dish rock in such a big way
When you first step in, it feels like you accidentally walked inside a fancy rustic crab shack, but with just enough neighbor separation and comforting noise level. We dont need penguin suits and benches for our purses to enjoy fine dining in its purest. A nice booth in the back, and an eager waiter that was especially enthusiastic about my order as if he was enjoying this meal himself was all what we needed for a truly memorable meal. I’m in danger of overhyping this one, so let me stop right now and dive to the food
Fried Bread – Remember kids, anytime you see bread on the menu, get it. This one was salted, honeyed, fried and tasted much better than it sounds
Crawfish Bisque – Dark roux, not too thick or thin. Didnt have enough of it to pass proper judgement partially because my youngest totally destroyed this thing.
Hushpuppies – Dont remember the last time I had this falafel of the south. Get this!
Crawfish Capellini – Outstanding! Capellini pasta, a bit thicker than angel hair with plenty of meaty, sweet crawfish meat. Terrific broth made with shrimp and crawfish stock, with hints of jalapeño. Highly recommend this one
Curried Mussels – More like a salad with potatoes, other veggies mixed in with the mussels and covered with light homemade curry sauce. I was a little nervous about this one with my mussel obsessed family used to plain ol’ mussels in red or white sauce but it turned out to be another winner
Smothered Catfish – Smothered in deliciousness! We aren’t the biggest fans of the catfish, but this was light, flaky, and quite good
Whole Grilled Redfish – A Revelation! Expertly cooked Redfish, perfectly complimented with first-rate minty oily salsa verde. You dont mess around too much with greatness. One of the best things I ate all year.
Top notch Chocolate/Raspberry Cake and an even better Pineapple Rum Cake. Not the usual soggy mess you normally expect out of a rum cake but a drier delicious pineapple flavored cake with Dolce de Leche ice cream. Well done!
Reason #37 to visit New Orleans