Peche Seafood Grill (800 Magazine St., 504-522-1744; www.pecherestau-rant.com), the latest from the Link Restaurant Group, opens this week with an approach to Gulf seafood that chef Donald Link says is a bit of an experiment.
The concept brings outdoor, open-fire cooking traditions to an indoor restaurant where fish will essentially get the same nose-to-tail, whole-animal treatment that Link has employed to acclaim at his restaurant Cochon. Ryan Prewitt, a chef who rose through the ranks at Link's first restaurant Herbsaint, leads the kitchen at Peche.
Link says the seafood-as-barbecue concept sprung in part from travels in South America, where the open-fire asado tradition remains strong. But he also points to his work with the Fatback Collective, a consortium of pork-minded chefs and barbecue pit masters from around the South.
"It's all related," he says. "Open-fire cooking, hanging out with the pit masters, cooking outside. Cooking on open fire changes the way you think about food."
Portions and coursing veer a bit from convention as well. A raw bar offers crudo, oysters and seafood salads, and a good part of the menu is dedicated to small plates and snacks to pass around the table, mostly in the $7 to $12 range. Shrimp toast, stuffed crab claws, smoked tuna dip, grilled mussels, beer-battered fish sticks and a Sichuan-inspired ground shrimp and noodles dish are some sample items. Whole fish and smaller cuts from the grill will change frequently.
"We'll have whole fish coming in instead of fillets and steaks so we can do more with them," Link says. "Some of it goes to crudo, some of it goes on the grill, we can make fish chips from the skin."
Peche's building dates to 1884 and it originally was a livery and later a funeral home, according to documents at the Preservation Resource Center. Today, the restaurant design mixes the building's massive exposed timbers and bare cypress with the bustle of an open kitchen and raw bar and adds a few elegant touches, such as antique chandeliers.
Peche serves lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. Reservations are accepted.