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Cafe Henri gets new chef, menu

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Bywater bistro Cafe Henri (800 Louisa St., 504-302-2357; www.henri.cafe) has a new executive chef and a new menu.

  Alfredo Nogueira, who is from River Ridge and grew up in New Orleans, spent the last 11 years working in Chicago, where most recently he ran the kitchen at Logan Square's cocktail darling Analogue, where he garnered accolades for his Cajun- inspired cuisine.

  Nogueira replaces Jason Klutts, who departed in September, at the Bywater bistro from the Cure Co. team.

  It was a natural choice, says Cafe Henri owner Neal Bodenheimer.

  "We've known (Nogueira) for years, and it just felt right," Bodenheimer says.

  The restaurant's opening menu featured a small number of staples that rarely changed. Nogueira's menu will be more fluid and change often depending on the season, Bodenheimer says.

  The new menu includes familiar items, such as seared hanger steak, a garlicky bowl of Prince Edward Island mussels, a fried chicken sandwich with spicy mayonnaise and coleslaw. But there also are dishes heavy on vegetables and creative ingredient combinations. A vegetable tempura dish features golden-fried cauliflower and crispy broccoli florets on a bed of creamy curried yogurt drizzled with spiced honey. An avocado and watermelon radish salad features black beans, pepitas, crispy fried rice and cilantro vinaigrette. Mushroom "farrotto" is a take on risotto made with the ancient grain coupled with maitake mushrooms, hazelnuts, Parmesan and saba.

  There is a new cocktail program by Kirk Estopinal. It currently includes holiday specials, such as Yule Nog, made with Henry McKenna whiskey, nutmeg, maple, cream and egg, and the Saint Nick's daiquiri, made with rum, red wine, egg white, ginger and Angostura bitters.

  The menu is a touch more upscale, but the cafe's laissez-faire vibe remains the same, Bodenheimer says.

  Henri serves Counter Culture coffee drinks and will add pastries from a yet-to-be named local supplier.

  Breakfast and lunch service run from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays and brunch is served on Saturdays and Sundays. Dinner is served daily.

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