The worst thing that can happen when you drive away from the restaurant where you just broke bread is to openly wonder where else you could have better spent the money. That’s what happened as we left Peche.
I loath sending food back to the kitchen. I’ve stood on many a hot line and I know the sinking feeling the line cooks get when the waitress walks back with a plate that you’ve just poured your heart into only to have it scorned by the patron.
We are not planning on eating at Peche. We’re motoring back from the Mexican Consulate and on our way to Rouse’s to purchase green onions for jambalaya
“Hey, there’s Peche”
“Let’s eat there right now”
“Ok, let’s do just that”
And that’s how we end up at the hottest restaurant in New Orleans.
Monday night. Packed. Soft lights. Room’s smelling good. Everybody’s real friendly.
We order a dozen raw oysters, the high dollar ones, and sit back to take in the scene.
Fried hushpuppies are boon companions to raw oysters so we ask after them and soon enough both the mollusks and the hushpuppies are set down on the bar.
The oysters are good but have little value at over $2 apiece. Uptown king Pascale’s Manale will not be losing any sleep over newcomer Peche cutting into their business.
The hushpuppies are scorched. The bartender immediately whisks them away and offers to replace them but we decline. Burnt flavors linger and we do not want to roll the dice twice.
We fare better with the next round: a bowl of gumbo and a seafood salad
The roux on the soup is burnished mahogany, approaching too dark but the saucier has reined it in at the cusp of burning. This kitchen walks the tightrope.
The seafood salad is a melange of cured tuna and shrimp served with housemade crackers that were probably crisp at one point before the humid air of New Orleans wended its way into their lives.
This seafood salad is for salt lovers only. The shrimp in particular is salty to the core. It would be unbearable for all but the most devoted lovers of sodium.
By now we’re on a roll. Gorging and having a hard time slowing down so we request catfish with pickled greens and chili broth as well as Crab+Jalapeno Cappelini.
Truth in advertising would suggest that Peche call their catfish dish what it is: Dan Dan minus the noodles. Unfortunately there’s quite an unpleasant collision between the broth and the pickling liquid used on the greens making the dish less than a success.
The barkeep notices our disinterest and offers to remove it from the bill but I have an idea where I can refurbish the dish at the house later so I decline his offer.
The cappelini is perfectly cooked with a nice bounce to the noodle. A hunk of French bread would’ve made this dish a runaway success but Peche does no truck with bread service.
There is no bread service at Peche.
In New Orleans.
Time to go.
A man is sitting outside with blood running down his face. He’s confused and injured. He’s being well attended to as we make our way to the coupe to return to the 9th Ward.
At nearly $90 for a series of hit and miss dishes we won’t be returning to Peche. A tightrope act only has so much entertainment value and New Orleans is filled with kitchens working at a higher level than this one.