Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Moving Up in Mid City: Our First Impressions of Gouter Restaurant in Baton Rouge

by Chuck P

Chef Chris Wadsworth and I go back. I've known him and his wife Sommer for around five years, ever since Jay and I used to record the Me & My Big Mouth podcast at Restaurant IPO downtown when Chris was the Executive Chef there.

Since leaving IPO I’ve patiently waited for Chris to get back in the kitchen, and it’s finally happened with Gouter Restaurant, his new venture into the ever-growing Baton Rouge culinary scene.

Before you ask, it's pronounced "goo-tay," and it's the French verb for "to taste." It's an unusual name for a restaurant, but Chris Wadsworth isn't a usual kind of chef.

Not interested in following culinary trends, Chris marches to the beat of his own drum. Gouter's menu represents his love for everything outdoors. If you can hunt it, trap it, catch it, or fish it, there's a good chance he'll be serving it up at Gouter.

I've had the chance to visit his new place a few times during the soft opening phase, and each time, I've been impressed with the interior and overall vibe. Hungry patrons sit at hand-cut wooden tables built by Chris waiting for their lunches to arrive (dinner service will begin within a few weeks). Corrugated tin lines the walls. The open kitchen allows restaurant goers to catch a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes action. Near the open kitchen is a six-top Chef's Table where Chris plans to serve special dishes and chat with customers.

Duck 3 Ways at Gouter
Looking over the menu, there's something for everyone (even me with my shell fish allergy). One of my favorite small plates so far is the Duck 3 Ways, three boiled duck eggs filled with a duck bacon mixture and topped with duck cracklin. The three textures play well together, making for one tasty and balanced bite. 
I've also tried the Fried Redfish Poboy served with house made chips. This big poboy is packed with crispy fried strips of redfish and dressed with lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise. The chips were also surprisingly noteworthy. It's rare for me to get excited about a house made chip, but Chris' are perfectly crunchy and salty, some of the best I've ever had.

When in doubt, go for the Crawaffle. A spicy crawfish tail mixture tops a soft, warm waffle drizzled with sweet syrup. It's a Louisiana plan on the traditional chicken and waffles, and it works surprisingly well. Both Sydney and Blair have ordered the Crawaffle as a meal, and they refuse to share even a bite.

red beans
Fried chicken and red beans and rice at Gouter

One of the best things I've eaten at Gouter so far has been the Red Beans & Rice plate lunch with Fried Chicken. Don't think Blue Runner red beans from a can, folks. These are full of flavor with just enough of a spicy kick. The Tempura battered chicken is extra crispy on the outside yet juicy on the inside.

I'm sure Chris still has plenty of kinks to work out before Gouter begins dinner service, but if the lunch menu is any indication of what's to come for dinner, I couldn't be more excited for this new addition to Mid City.

P.S. Chris has been getting creative in the kitchen playing with using our Louisiana Molasses Mustard and Barbecue Sauce on his menu, so stay tuned for that!

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