Cafe Henri launches new menu with Chicago chef Alfredo Nogueira at helm


Alfredo Nogueira is now the chef at Cafe Henri in the Bywater. - COURTESY CURE CO.
  • Alfredo Nogueira is now the chef at Cafe Henri in the Bywater.

Bywater bistro Cafe Henri (800 Louisa St., 504-302-2357) 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 has returned to his hometown and is leading the kitchen at the Bywater bistro from the Cure Co. team, replacing the restaurant’s opening chef, Jason Klutts, who departed in September.

For the Cafe Henri team, it was a natural choice, says 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, but Nogueira’s menu will be more fluid and change often depending on the season, Bodenheimer says.

The new menu is brief and includes familiar items, such as seared hanger steak, a garlicky bowl of Prince Edward Island mussels, a fried chicken sandwich with spicy mayo and slaw. But there also are dishes heavy on vegetables and creative ingredient combinations. A vegetable tempura dish features golden-fried cauliflower and crispy broccoli florets tucked into 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 the classic risotto dish made with the ancient grain coupled with maitake mushrooms, hazelnuts, Parmesan and saba.

A new cocktail program created by Kirk Estopinal will evolve regularly and currently includes a few holiday-leaning 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.

Though the menu is a touch more upscale and elegant, Bodenheimer says the cafe’s causal, laissez-faire vibe is the same.

A coffee and pastry service runs from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays, and it includes Counter Culture coffee drinks and pastries from a yet-to-be named local supplier.

Happy hour runs from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., and dinner is served daily. Brunch is served on Saturday and Sunday.

For more information, visit the restaurant’s website here.

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