House Pâté Tartine
7217 Perrier St., (504) 866-4860; tartineneworleans.com
Add just about anything to a length of baguette and you have met the French definition for a tartine. It can be as basic as a spread of butter. Of course, from here the sky is the limit, and the house pâté version ($10) at the Uptown bakery named for these open-faced sandwiches is a personal favorite. Baked in-house, the baguette is a durable and delicious foundation for dueling layers of sharp Dijon mustard and tangy/sweet onion marmalade under thick, cool slabs of pâté, all heady and aromatic with herbs, bits of fig and pistachio. With a ramekin-sized side salad and some cornichons, it feels like a French picnic on a plate.
870 Tchoupitoulas St., (504) 525-8205; labocasteaks.com
Eat at a classic American steakhouse and you might start with onion rings or a salad. Eat at La Boca, the Warehouse District’s Argentine-style steakhouse, and you’d do well to start with the empanadas ($10), especially if the goat version I tried recently is on the specials list. Cooked down into buttery but still lean-tasting strands with an earthy savor, the goat was encased in golden, puffy-crusted pastry purses like oversized dumplings. Crack them open and apply varying dabs of La Boca’s chimichurri and creamy horseradish sauces. If a meat appetizer before your steak entree sounds a little excessive, well, you might be in the wrong restaurant.
Char-grilled Gulf Fish
Harbor Seafood & Oyster Bar
3203 Williams Blvd., (504) 443-6454; fishermanscoveseafood.com
Sharing ownership with the attached Fisherman’s Cove Seafood market helps explain the deep roster of seafood fielded by this hole-in-a-wall restaurant. The list of fin fish available for the Harbor specialty dinner ($17.50) changes any given night, though the cobia or tuna always get my attention. The presentation is utterly simple — just a light char from the grill and a little seasoning scattered over the glistening fish, with boiled corn and fried hunks of potato on the side. The fish is the focus, and sometimes that’s all you need.
Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @IanMcNultyNOLA.