A good week in New Orleans for fans of the Cajun smokehouse tradition just got a lot better.
While the new butcher shop Chris’ Specialty Meats opened Wednesday in Lakeview, across town Bourrée at Boucherie also made its debut this week, serving up hot boudin and stocking its butcher case with a select array of its own specialty meats.
Bourrée at Boucherie is a new project from chef Nathanial Zimet, James Denio, and their crew from Boucherie, and it’s located just next door to that restaurant in the former home of Café Nino.
It’s a three-part prospect built around meats by the pound for home, fresh fruit daiquiris dispensed from swirling machines at the butcher counter and a short menu of snacks to eat on the spot, starting with chicken wings, fries, boudin and cracklin’ and spicy boiled peanuts.
Bourrée is pouring daiquiris now, and by next week Denio expects to have more drinks on tap – a selection of draft beer and also draft wines and ciders, including a Normandy-style farmhouse cider.
Meanwhile, Zimet has been preparing different types of boudin. Some are traditional, while others are not exactly your parrain’s boudin. There’s one with chicken, duck tasso and black rice, for instance. Another starts with pulled pork and works in a griddled, carnitas-style pork for good measure.
“Just getting into straight butchering for a market and not for the restaurant, it’s been so much fun,” Zimet said. “We’re going to do what we do, and see how people respond to it to decide what we do next.”
For its take-away meats, Bourrée has a more specialized selection than most butcher shops. The approach starts with whole hogs, sourced from the north shore’s Chappapeela Farms, which Bourrée turns into several types of bacon and country hams, pork flank steaks, trotters and headcheese, plus the boudin and cracklin for the grab-and-go business. There’s also Wagyu brisket, the same sort that Zimet uses for one of his signature dishes at Boucherie, and duck confit, smoked chickens (and smoked fried chicken salad) and terrines. And that’s just the beginning of the interchange possible between the chefs’ smokehouse and restaurant.
“In a sense, Bourrée will be Boucherie’s butcher,” said Denio.
It may also be a test track of sorts, as the Bourrée crew makes more specialty meat products that could become hot snacks at the shop or even dishes at the restaurant.
“Eventually, more of the stuff from the butcher case will make it to the menu,” Zimet said. “I can see us doing meat pies that you take home, or we drop them in the fryer here for you, stuff like that. I’m excited to see the evolution of this and think about what we can do.”
Short move, big plans
Zimet and Denio opened Boucherie in 2008 after they’d gained a following for the Que Crawl, one of the city’s first modern food trucks. They opened in a tiny Jeanette Street cottage that had been home to a succession of memorable restaurants (Iris, Mango House, the original Ninja sushi bar), but it became clear early on they would outgrow the space.
Earlier this year, they relocated Boucherie just around the corner to the former home of Café Granada (1506 S. Carrollton Ave.), and temporarily ran an abbreviated wings-and-daiquiris version of Bourrée at Boucherie at their former Jeannette Street address. Now that the move is complete, that cottage location will become Boucherie’s private dining and specials events space.
The old Café Nino was a popular neighborhood joint for pizza by the slice and plates of meatballs and lasagna, and known for the gregarious hospitality of proprietor Nino Bongiorno. Now, the boxy lines and even the pitted parking lot out front does indeed bring to mind a country butcher shop.
A gleaming new service counter and a few booths give it a new edge, though Denio managed to keep Café Nino’s old wall-mounted juke box supplied with a mix of tunes from Billy Ocean and Billy Ray Cyrus (it should be installed by next week).
1510 S. Carrollton Ave., 504-510-4040
Initial hours are Tue.-Sat., noon to midnight; Sun. 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @IanMcNultyNOLA.