Briquette, a new venture from Opal Basil chef Robert Vazquez and established restaurateur Anna Tusa, hosted a preview dinner featuring their full menu of delicious coastal cuisine. Here is what you can expect at this new establishment in the Warehouse District.
First, let’s talk about the restaurant’s location. It’s on the corner of S. Peters Street and Girod Street in The Refinery building, which was a former molasses refinery. The building was recently converted into an upscale condominium complex with Briquette occupying most of the bottom floor. The sheer size of this restaurant makes quite an impression. The restaurant features a large, open floor plan with the entire kitchen enclosed behind a generous viewing window. The viewing window gives you great insight as to what happens behind-the-scenes. It’s like watching an episode of Hell’s Kitchen without all the yelling and cursing. I must say I was mesmerized watching the chefs, line cooks, food expediter and wait staff hustling to serve a full house of hungry people.
The bar is quite large as well, with ample seating for a dozen or more guests. The drink menu pays homage to the building’s history with hand-crafted cocktails like the “Refinery Mojito” made with Steen’s Cane Syrup. The bar is equipped with several televisions so you don’t have to miss a play of Saints Sunday night football. Who Dat!
Now, for the best part, the food. The menu focuses heavily on seafood with the fresh fish beautifully displayed over ice in the kitchen. Pompano, redfish, cobia, yellow fin tuna and sea bass are just a few of the fish choices offered on the menu. You can order any of these grilled and topped with a selection of sauces if you so desire. Non-seafood menu items include short ribs, chicken, pork tenderloin and NY strip. Being a seafood lover, I ordered anything and everything fish, shrimp, crab and scallop related.
My guest and I ordered the crispy deviled egg with pulled pork and lump crab hollandaise, the almond crusted manchego with grilled shrimp and the seafood soup. All of these appetizers were delicious. I love deviled eggs, pulled pork and crabmeat, but I never considered eating all three in one dish. It was an interesting combination that seemed to work. My favorite of these dishes was the soup. It was a delicate broth filled with scallop, shrimp and redfish accented with capers and a lime chili flavor. I could have eaten two bowls of this soup. The one item I didn’t order that I will be sure to get next time is the lobster tamale served with a fried egg. A nearby table ordered it and it looked heavenly.
We both ordered pompano as our entrees. Mine was the beer battered pompano with almond cauliflower mash. My guest ordered the grilled pompano with the romesco sauce. Both were delicious, however I preferred the grilled fish, mainly because it was a lighter dish. It really brought out the flavors of the pompano.
Overall, I really enjoyed this restaurant. The food, the cocktails and the atmosphere were all quite good. As with any soft opening, there are a few kinks to work out when it comes to the timing of the dishes. However, I thought the team did a great job of managing a very large and hungry crowd.
Briquette is now open for dinner service Sunday through Thursday 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Rachel Sigur is a frequent contributor to NOLA Weekend. She also passionate about all things food and New Orleans.
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