Compère Lapin: New Orleans Food
My hubby and I sneaked away this spring for an overnight anniversary getaway in New Orleans (basically a staycation, but it was loverly). While we had the evening to ourselves we splurged on a nice dinner out at Compère Lapin (it was our anniversary, after all). Michael had been there on a business lunch, and was anxious for me to experience it with him. It did not disappoint.
Compère Lapin is the Caribbean/Creole version of Brother Rabbit. The name hints at the Caribbean and Creole twists on classic European dishes on the menu. Once you step inside, the consistent and whimsical rabbit theme catches your eye and further draws you in. I amused myself by seeing how many rabbits I could find hiding inside.
We showed up sans reservations (which was not the wisest idea on a graduation weekend evening. . .), but managed to secure seats in front of the oyster bar. We watched it stay consistently in demand, sending numerous platters of oysters out. (When asked, the shucker said that he shucked 400-600 oysters a day!) We settled in to peruse the menu, where I was a little nonplussed at how very understated the menu descriptions are. Not in a bad way, but they’re definitely not trying to sell the dishes to you; everything was so much better than the descriptions indicated! That sounds weird, but I’m not sure how else to phrase it. For example, the description would read something like “chicken with vegetable puree”. That is, of course, what it would be, but also so much MORE than that! More flavor, more texture, more taste! So allow me to describe some of these dishes to you.
(Also please allow me to beg your pardon for the really terrible photos. Never mind the fact I’m not a great photographer to begin with, it was also dark in the restaurant, and I’m totally not going to make a scene for better lighting, ha! But hopefully the pictures still give you a hint of how delightful the food is. And guess what? Their website has really pretty pictures! Go drool over those and come back for the rest of the story. ;))
We each ordered an appetizer and an entree; Compère Lapin is the sort of restaurant you want (almost need) to do that in. After we ordered, the waitress brought us the complimentary biscuits. One for each us, and they are served with two kinds of whipped butter– bacon and chives and honey. (Maybe a salted honey?). I expected to favor the bacon butter (which Michael certainly did), but somehow it was the honey butter that I couldn’t stay away from. Don’t think we left any on the platter. . .
We ordered two appetizers: the shrimp and jalapeño (officially described as “Marinated Shrimp/Roasted Jalapeño Jus”) and the “Crispy Dirty Rice Arancini, served with an Sour Orange Mojo”. Shockingly enough, despite swimming in a jalapeño sauce, the shrimp was not in the least bit spicy; it was bright and fresh, gloriously full of crunchy vegetables and cilantro. The dirty rice arancini was a clever creole-meets-Italy marriage that wasn’t the least bit greasy or gummy (have I been eating arancini at the wrong places? because this one was amazing).
Michael had previously tasted the snapper on a business lunch, and loved it so much he knew before we sat down that’s what he wanted for his entree. To once more quote from the menu, it is merely described as “Snapper/Escovitch/Carrot Beurre Blanc”. It was incredible; once more a dish that surprised me with its freshness and how much flavor burst out of it. (I asked Michael for help describing it, and all he came up with was “It was amazing. You can quote me on that.” So yeah, it’s good, even if our memories aren’t.)
For my entree, I ordered a Caribbean chicken (I think), but it’s no longer on the menu (which they must rotate). It’s a shame it’s not currently on there, because it was the most tender chicken I’ve ever had! So moist I thought that it must have been cooked sous vide (it was!). If I’m recalling correctly, it was served over a root vegetable puree and garnished with peanuts and a reduction of something fruity and bright (my memory fails me, forgive me). But I clearly remember that Michael liked it as much as I did, which is saying a lot considering he was busy on his snapper.
My one regret is that we didn’t order dessert, which I suspect would have been just an unique and flavorful as the savory dishes (what can I say, my ice-cream loving husband had Creole Creamery on the brain, and that didn’t disappoint either). We’re planning to come back with friends, so next time, dessert. . .
For reservations (which I’d recommend during prime hours, and weekends) and hours of service, check out this page on Compère Lapin’s website.