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Monday, December 3, 2012

Salú on Magazine

Bacon Wrapped Prawns at Salu
Salú specializes in tapas, or Spanish-style small plates, meant to be passed around the table and shared in feasting camaraderie   Often it seems that Americans associate this style of dining with notions of expensive appetizers.  Typically, I find that not to be the case.  Chefs right now, like Chris Wadsworth at Restaurant IPO in Baton Rouge, are using the small plates medium to increase creativity without having to charge an arm and a leg for it.  The same can be said Salú on Magazine St. in New Orleans.  The idea is simple: feature dishes inspired by the French, Spanish, and Italian Rivieras, serve them in smaller but share-able portions, and pair them with equally appealing cocktails and wine.  While the concept remains relatively standard, the execution is not.  With their new menu and a rather new Executive Chef, Dustin Brien, Salú is attempting to show off some non-traditional New Orleans cuisine with one of the better happy hours in town.

I began my lunch with a New Orleans Pisco Sour.  A little Peruvian pisco, tequila, orange, lemon, lime, and pineapple juices and a dash of bitters brought on a delightful early-day cocktail.  I'll have to remember this one next time I'm thinking about a tequila sunrise for brunch!  Salú features a mussels menu with various flavors to choose from.  I appreciate a restaurant that can do something like mussels well and with different flavors.  We seem to struggle with mussels a bit in Louisiana since they don't come from the Gulf, but these were up to par.  In the foreground are the Chorizo Mussels with garlic, tomatoes and beer.  Farther back sit the Parmesan Mussels with extra cream, garlic, and chives.  Both were rather tasty.  Simple, but distinct flavors made each dish unique, and the sauces are always great for dipping some frites in!

Candied Pecan Crusted Scallops
Yet another seafood item that isn't found off the coast of Louisiana, the candied pecan crusted scallops at Salú come served over pumpkin risotto with arugula and brown butter.  These large mollusks were divinely seared with extra sweetness that rivaled the savory qualities of the butter and the spiciness of the arugula.  The pumpkin risotto sealed the deal on this dish.  To put it simply: get it!

Zaatar Seared Yellow Fin Tuna from Salú
I wish all tuna could look as gorgeous as this.  My belly began sending signals of fullness, but my taste buds had to be rewarded when I got a look at this fish.  Expertly minimally seared, the bright red tuna sat atop a smoked asparagus tomato relish with additional extra virgin olive oil.  The smoke flavors danced with the freshness of the tuna.  There was no bunny hopping in my mouth, but rather a tango with a sexy lady, wildly swinging on the dance floor called my tongue. 

Bacon Wrapped Date to end the meal at Salú
Lunch concluded with a little something sweet and savory.  A bacon wrapped date perched gorgeously upon fresh greens.  With one bite a flavor punch came across that summed up the whole meal.  Salty, sweet, creative, and strikingly beautiful in its simplicity.  Bravo to Salú.  At least for this one lunch, I felt like I had escaped Louisiana for a European adventure.  Now I just need to get back for Paella Thursday!