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Cuvee Report

Doc | Jun 14, 200305:17 PM

We had a good meal at Cuvee on Magazine Street Wednesday night. I had never been all that impressed with the food when Bingo Starr was chef, but I recently heard that new chef (former sous chef) Bob Iacovonne was running a foie gras creme brulee appetizer. This is a dish I'd long dreamed of but never actually seen, so we decided to give Cuvee another try.

I'm sorry to admit that I often approach new restaurants (or old restaurants with new chefs) snarling, "This will probably suck!", but I am always happy to be proved wrong. I had high hopes for the foie gras creme brulee and was not disappointed. I don't think this is a dish for everyone -- you have to be open to the unusual combination of sweet, savory, and fatty. I like that combo and found the brulee top cracklier and more skillfully done than the dessert creme brulees at many local restaurants. The dish also contained chevre and Granny Smith apples. I could have done without the slightly sour flavor of the chevre and the allium element (onion or shallot, not sure, but it seemed superfluous). However, these are quibbles about an excellent dish.

Verna started with seared scallops with a celeraic puree and crisp potato rosti. Good dish, but on the scallop/celery tip, I preferred the raw scallop "ravioli" with celery gelee and caviar I had a few months ago at Marisol. Her entree was Australian lamb chops with braised red cabbage, brown butter spaghetti squash, and sun-dried cherry beignets -- good, from what I tasted. I was more interested in my own entree, veal cheeks with an intense red-wine demi, white bean puree, chorizo, clams, and rapini. I've been seeing a lot of the classic clam & pork pairing (no obvious sex jokes, please) around town lately and heartily approve of it.

For dessert we ordered the cutely conceived but somewhat cloying Good Humor plate, which consisted of baked Alaska with peanut butter ice cream, lemon pound cake layered with pistachio ice cream, and a "Nutty Buddy" (remember him?) made with espresso ice cream and a tuile. Tuiles seem to be big everywhere. We ate most of this oddly matched trio, but were more taken with our selection from the very good dessert wine & cordial list, a Poire William (pear) eau de vie from Lorraine.

Very nice meal overall, good enough to distract me from the silly champagne-bottle chandeliers and the aggressively heterosexual couple feeling each other up two banquettes over.

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