by Ian McNulty
The new restaurants and bars that have so swiftly transformed Freret Street each have their own niche. The people who make them tick, however, often support each other and sometimes they collaborate.
The latest example is at Perestroika at Pravda (1113 Decatur St., 504-581-1112), a Soviet-themed bar (previously called Pravda) taken over late last year by the crew from the upscale cocktail bar Cure. More recently, they invited Adam Biderman, the chef behind their Freret Street neighbor the Company Burger, to run the bar’s substantial but under-used kitchen.
While Biderman made his name in New Orleans on burgers, he was trained as a fine-dining chef and he’s flexing those muscles here. He’s also clearly having fun, matching bar snacks and modestly-sized entrees with the Slavic décor of the bar’s previous incarnation.
“Some of it comes from my Jewish roots, but I’m also lightening it up some for the customers we have down here,” he says.
That means a few more vegetarian options than your babushka might prepare, like pelmeni (Russian dumplings) filled with potato and cheese and topped with black pepper sour cream and fried shallots or a salad of shaved Brussels sprouts, kale, radish, turnips and rutabaga.
Biderman is a meat man, however, so the menu quickly gets into brisket with latkes and compressed apples, a chicken thigh arranged over paprikash gravy and some beautiful trout with buttery cabbage and roe cured in vodka. A bowl of curry-spiced puffed pork skins make an unconventional but persuasive bar nosh.
The whole Perestroika at Pravda concept is a temporary one, however. By June, managing partner and head bartender Nick Detrich plans to convert the space into a pre-Prohibition rum bar, with a new name, new cocktails and a new menu from Biderman.
The chef says that next phase will draw on foods from sugar-growing (and thus rum-producing) lands. Chisesi ham croquettes are one possibility, for instance. He also plans to rehab the large outdoor rotisserie in the building’s courtyard, which had been a centerpiece for G&E Courtyard Grill, a highly-regarded restaurant that occupied this address for a few years in the 1990s.
Perestroika at Pravda is open Monday through Saturday, while Biderman’s menu is served beginning at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.
Perestroika at Pravda
1113 Decatur St., (504) 581-1112