The new restaurants and bars that transformed Freret Street each have their own niche. The people who make them tick, however, often support each other and sometimes collaborate.
Some of them are extending their approach to Perestroika at Pravda (1113 Decatur St., 504-581-1112). The Soviet-themed bar (previously called Pravda) was taken over late last year by the crew from the upscale cocktail bar Cure (4905 Freret St., 504-302-2357; www.curenola.com). They invited Adam Biderman, the chef behind their Freret Street neighbor the Company Burger (4600 Freret St., 504-267-0320; www.-thecompanyburger.com), to run the bar's substantial but under-used kitchen.
Biderman made his name in New Orleans on burgers, but he was trained as a fine-dining chef and he's deploying those skills here. He's also clearly having fun, matching bar snacks and modest-sized entrees with the Slavic decor 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'll 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, and a salad of shaved Brussels sprouts, kale, radish, turnips and rutabaga.
The menu also includes brisket with latkes and compressed apples, a chicken thigh arranged over paprikash gravy and trout with buttery cabbage and roe cured in vodka. A bowl of curry-spiced puffed pork skins makes an unconventional but persuasive bar nosh.
The 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 the next phase will draw on foods from sugar-growing (and thus rum-producing) lands. He also plans to rehab the large outdoor rotisserie in the building's courtyard.
Perestroika at Pravda is open every day except Sunday, and Biderman's menu is served beginning at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.