Nestled on a quiet, residential block on a narrow street in Uptown, Gautreau’s is a French-inspired neighborhood restaurant for a certain type of neighbor. The dining room, with its ribbon-draped tromp l’oeil walls and warm, dim glow, has all the feel of an exclusive club – albeit one where you are greeted as familiarly as a regular even if it’s your first time.
The restaurant’s young and very talented chef Sue Zemanick has garnered more praise and recognition than chefs twice her age, including being a finalist multiple times for the coveted James Beard “Rising Star Chef” award and landing on Food & Wine’s Top 10 Best New Chef list.
Zemanick’s menu is stylish but satisfying, with the occasional, indelible marks of the young chef’s creativity. Look for standards like warm asparagus stalks plated with a sultry yard egg and dusting of truffle or the offbeat favorite raw kale salad spiked with currants, Parmesan, pine nuts and lemon vinaigrette. Familiar bistro classics like roast chicken or filet of beef in demi glace are tempting, but more inspiration shines in dishes like in-season fish gilded in citrus beurre blanc and a sophisticated medley of oyster mushrooms and spinach, or mushrooms, snap peas and hearts of palm.
Regular favorites include savory pain perdu (French toast) with smoked bacon, tomatoes and arugula, and crispy sweetbreads bathed in spicy butter with crawfish tails and greens. The caramelized banana split with banana bread, butterscotch and chocolate sauce is a staple on the dessert menu.
Zemanick isn’t blazing new territory with cutting edge theatrics in the kitchen, nor does she stick to the script of the standard New Orleans restaurant. The accomplished chef simply offers the city what seems to come naturally to her: a keen talent for inventive but ultimately comforting bistro fare.
Under rising star chef Sue Zemanick, Gautreau's gives diners sophisticated but comforting contemporary bistro fare in an elegant neighborhood restaurant.