by Ian McNulty
When chef Guillermo Peters started cooking at the Eco Café last summer, he predicted that some significant changes were in store for what at the time was a combination coffee shop/breakfast and lunch spot in Mid-City. Those materialized first as a name change to Canal Street Bistro and the addition of the chef’s upscale Mexican menu for a new dinner service on weekends.
This week, the restaurant continues its transformation, expanding that dinner service from Wednesday through Saturday (this new schedule actually begins on April 5). Breakfast and lunch continues every day except Tuesday, as usual, and more twists to the restaurant’s lineup could be on the way soon.
Peters’ changes have given Canal Street Bistro something of a dual personality. At breakfast and lunch it’s a mid-range neighborhood joint, with omelets, salads, panini and such, and most prices for main dishes around $10; in the evening, it’s home to what is easily the most ambitious Mexican cooking in town, with a price range to match (most entrees are over $25).
Such a varied operation is familiar terrain for Peters. A native of Mexico City, he originally operated his restaurant Taqueros in a Kenner strip mall, where his menu combined tacos with a selection of much more elaborate regional Mexican cuisine. In 2004, he moved to a large, two-story St. Charles Avenue property (now home to the Irish House) and opened Taqueros/Coyoacan, which offered a polished cantina atmosphere downstairs and a fine-dining Mexican restaurant upstairs. It reopened after Katrina, but went out of business in 2007.
One plan in the works for Canal Street Bistro harks back to his former ventures. Peters says he may designate one weeknight as a sort of “taco night,” with various tacos from his old repertoire at Taqueros featured beside the upscale entrees. Another idea in the works is to add a “tapas night” to the lineup, with specials on sangria and bottles of wine.
Already, the breakfast and lunch menus at Canal Street Bistro have plenty of Mexican influences (I especially like the torta and the chile con carne at lunch). And this Sunday, the chef is doing a global-style Easter brunch, with oyster cocktail, German pancakes, rack of lamb with poblano and piquillo peppers and fish poached in coconut milk, among other dishes.
Canal Street Bistro
3903 Canal St., 482-1225