Joyous, joyous day! One of the most celebrated "new school" chefs in New Orleans, Chris DeBarr is coming back from his 10-month hiatus by opening his own restaurant! This is fantastic news for New Orleans.
Since Chef DeBarr left the tiny, tiny kitchen of the Delachaise last July, I have mourned the loss of his duck fat french fries and their fiery satay dipping sauce.
Sometimes, when I'm at the Harris Teeter cheese island, I dream that Chris is there, guiding me to the creamy, stinky, nutty, and tangy cheeses that packed our cheese plates on so many balmy evenings in NOLA. I miss having the brilliant, jovial chef deliver his thoughtful dishes to the table in his check pants and his clogs, daring us to guess the spices in his chestnut flour pasta & smoked goose dish. (It's not anise! Instead, it's the slighty licorice caraway seed. From Chef DeBarr himself "I based that dish on something I read about in the Alto Adige region of Italy, involving goose speck, called oca, which I immediately lusted after.")
But, ladies and gents, I no longer have to hallucinate his presence at the grocery store--he has returned and this time its his kitchen and his alone. That means that he's free to pack the walk-in coolers with whatever crazy fowls and foragers that he comes across at the market, and nobody can tell him that they won't sell. It also means that he doesn't have to stock Diet Coke if he doesn't want to, and, be warned--he doesn't want to.
Chef Chis DeBarr's new restaurant is on Exchange Alley in the French Quarter (Between Royal and Conti, on the Uptown side of the LA Supreme Ct. Building), and he's naming it the "Green Goddess." The name alludes to many things: the famous absinthe drink that is inextricably tied to bohemian NOLA (get it at the Pirate Bar in NOLA, or Wisdom in D.C.), our heightened awareness of our collective environmental footprint, and a celebration of the vegetables and herbs that awaken our palate and nourish our bodies. Chris' restaurant will resonate all of these concepts, but he also wants to play tribute to New Orleans native Warren LeRuth, who developed the recipe for the cucumber-hued Green Goddess salad dressing that taught Chris that "food could be exotic, even capable of turning a boring lettuce salad into something a little bit fantastic."
One feature of the Green Goddess will be its unique beverage service. No safe-haven Diet Coke here. Instead, order a "Brazilian Samba", with cashew fruit juice, sparkling pear juice, white tea, agave nectar, and ice cubes of young coconut juice. Or try a can of Ting, a Jamaican grapefruit soda that blows our cherry-coke crap out of the water.
And don't expect the food to be upstaged by the drinks--that's not Chef DeBarr's style. His blog suggests that he has many, many secrets in store for his diners, including a modern method of preparing dishes tableside (perfect for nomadic, gregarious Chef DeBarr) that won't remind you of the 80-year-old tuxedo clad server setting your bananas foster on fire beside a dingy booth at Morton's. Right now, I'm most excited about the gourmet bison and bacon meatloaf with roasted asparagus wrapped in serrano ham--that and the "whoopass lunch sandwich" he plans to make from cold slices of the same.
UPDATE: Though I included linked to Chef DeBarr's livejournal, I didn't give you the webaddress outright. For more info about the Green Goddess, and to follow along as the restaurant moves towards its Grand Opening, check out http://chefcdb.livejournal.com/ or visit http://www.greengoddessnola.com/, which should be up and running soon.