The highly original, sometimes peculiar Mid-City restaurant Serendipity (3700 Orleans Ave., 504-407-0818; www.serendipitynola.com) has a new chef, a new menu and a new culinary direction. Chef Chris DeBarr left about a month ago, and chef Gabriel Beard has been hired to take the helm.
"Our goal is to be more approachable," says Ed Diaz, one of the restaurant's owners. DeBarr says he's headed to Houston for a restaurant consulting project. He cites "creative differences" for his departure from Serendipity, though he emphasizes that he hopes the restaurant is successful in its new path.
"I picked the name Serendipity because I believe in the principle," DeBarr says. "I live for the magic. I'm off for another adventure." Serendipity opened in September 2012 in a large but easy-to-miss location inside the American Can Company apartment building. DeBarr's menu was idiosyncratic, his dishes marked by a blend of global influences, exotic ingredients and, sometimes, their own literary back stories.
Diaz says Beard's new menu "reads simpler but is still rooted in a lot of technique." Appetizers include watermelon gazpacho with pickled rind ($9) and a seafood slider with shrimp, crab & fried pickle ($6), and entrees range from smoked chicken with tomato jam ($17) & hanger steak with marrow sauce ($23) to shrimp with house-made herb egg noodles and escarole ($20) and quinoa-stuffed tomato ($15) for a vegetarian option.
DeBarr cooked in New Orleans restaurants for more than 25 years. He gained a significant foodie following as chef at the Uptown tavern The Delachaise (3442 St. Charles Ave., 504-895-0858; www.thedelachaise.com), and in 2009, he and chef Paul Artigues partnered to open the Green Goddess (307 Exchange Place, 504-301-3347) in the French Quarter. He left Green Goddess in May 2012 and announced plans to open Serendipity with new business partners.
Serendipity serves lunch Monday through Friday and dinner Monday through Saturday.