Is there such a thing as too much seafood?
Not for our crew. We’ve been slurping oysters straight out of the Gulf, and eating them in dozens of different forms—char-broiled, barbecued, fried, and fancy. We’ve also had scallops, calamari, red fish, drum fish, tuna, shrimp, and more. As usual on Food Channel shoots, we love to take one bite and pass the plate, sharing a variety of different tastes and flavors. And we aren’t done yet.
But, we are keenly aware that some of the change taking place in New Orleans post-oil spill revolves around new restaurants that emphasize something other than seafood. Some of these restaurants, like John Besh’s Lüke and Donald Link’s Cochon, are focusing on pork. So, while we are here in the Crescent City to check out the seafood, we took a side trip to check out what’s on the menu at Butcher, the hot new café from Chef Link that is right next door to Cochon—in perfect position to take the spillover traffic from those poor souls (like us) who neglected to make a reservation.
Butcher came highly recommended from a number of other chefs, from recent reviews, from following Donald Link’s career, and from a business associate who couldn’t rave enough. So when we asked our standard question of a publicist at our shoot—where should we eat—and she said, “Cochon or Butcher,” we decided it was time to go. So, while we left our share of seafood alive and well on this night, we did some serious damage at Butcher, all in small plates and sandwiches.
We started with the Pancetta Mac-n-Cheese, and promptly ordered another. We tried the Duck Pastrami Slider, and the Marinated Brussels Sprouts, and—with some trepidation—the Head Cheese with Chow-Chow and a house mustard made with the local Abita beer. And, although we have one of those “give it to Mikey, he’ll eat anything” people on our crew, his skills weren’t even grazed by the Head Cheese—we managed to get it down just fine without any clean up needed. All of these small plates were full of flavor, with great variety and surprises that made it seem like a party atmosphere. And, I don’t think that’s merely because the restaurant lives in New Orleans. In fact, I think the spirit of New Orleans may actually live in Butcher.
We added a few sandwiches, trying several, including the popular Buckboard Bacon Melt with Collard greens, the Pork Belly with Mint and Cucumber, and the BBQ Pork, Carolina Style. We liked the standard BLT OK, and didn’t love the Buckboard, but all went into raves about the Pork Belly—the combination of a decadently flavorful piece of pork measured against the coolness of mint and cucumber made it the best sandwich of the night.
Butcher is one of a the new breed of restaurants, like Mado in Chicago, that embraces the whole hog, ensuring that there is no waste. It’s a great place to go to check out the latest in charcuterie. . .or simply, like us, to bring a little balance to your diet.
The Food Channel crew is in New Orleans all week to check out the state of the seafood in that area of the Gulf. Follow our activities on Twitter @foodchannel and check back often as the stories begin to run.
More from the New Orleans Tour: