- Written by Super User
- Category: Northshore and Hammond area
October 2010. An afternoon well spent on the riverbank.
(See Chef Tony Monroe's recipe for Pan Seared Gulf Grouper...)
“I’d bring my mother to eat here.”
Let me put these words in context to give you a sense of just what high praise they are.
They came from the lips of my good friend and frequent dining companion Alex Falcone. Note the last name. He’s from a family that is about as Italian as it gets—a family that assigns extraordinary value to a great meal. That sets a high bar of expectation for any restaurant into which Alex sets foot. His mother’s bar is even higher.
For this lunch we shared on a quiet Saturday, chef Tony Monroe cleared the bar with several inches to spare. And he did so with simple, superbly crafted fare, presented in the serene environs of his WaterStreet Bistro, overlooking the sail boats moored on the lovely Tchefuncte River just across the street, as it runs through the particularly charming Louisiana community of Madisonville.
It will be eight years in March that Monroe has owned this spot, housed in an 1840s era cottage that, like many of the old homes in this nautically oriented community, once belonged to a boat captain.
Monroe started his culinary career at the legendary Café Sbisa in New Orleans, then went to Colorado for a while before returning to the place he was born and raised.
As the first course of our meal arrived, I was particularly glad he’d come home.
We started with crab claws in a golden sauce which, like everything we ate for this meal, transformed a few simple ingredients into a great dish.
“We take garlic, parsley and white wine, and reduce it down,” says Monroe. Then at the last moment butter is added and allowed to melt into the sauce. Fortunately there were big hunks of warm Leidenheimer French bread on hand to make sure that no sauce went unappreciated after the crab claws were gone.
The perfectly grilled red fish that followed had its own memorable sauce, this time a reduction of Madeira wine and smoked tomatoes. “When Creole tomatoes were in season we smoked them and put them in that same sauce,” notes Monroe while bemoaning the fact that this year’s season for the local favorite was unusually short. All of the sauces are made to order for each dish. Nothing on the menu is ever frozen.
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