Wednesday, March 27, 2013


As I mentioned in my previous post about Byblos, I'd been convinced by a determined (and super nice, it turns out) PR lady named Emily to come out and check out Byblos and Salu. Emily and I had lunch at Byblos one afternoon, and she spoke about her "passion project," which was the rebranding and communication of Salu. She really believes in the owner's vision and the chef's talent, and the potential for the restaurant to be a great neighborhood place where good food is celebrated with family and friends.

So I was quite intrigued for my dinner with Emily and the one of the owners, Tarek Tay, the following night. Tom and I strolled up on a lovely spring evening and met Emily, Tarek, and Gaby Saliba, one of Tarek's partners at the bar. (Tarek, Gaby, and one more partner make up the 3 of a Kind Restaurant Group.) Happy hour was in full swing and we saw bowls of (half price) mussels and pitchers of mojitos being served and enjoyed. Now, their mussels were a huge draw for me getting Tom out to have dinner with two people he didn't know. He loves him some mussels and having potential bivalve proximity was very intriguing for him.

Tarek is very warm and engaging, proud of his restaurants, and loves to eat, laugh and share stories and food with friends (both new and old). We were welcomed and the food started coming. First some hot puffy pocket bread, and then several orders of mussels - we got the classic, parmesan, chorizo, and dijon. Also frites, of course. Followed by a prosciutto and fig flatbread.

Puffy pocket bread with salt, olive oil, herbs.

OK, obviously I was too excited to start eating the mussels to take a picture of them all pretty

Prosciutto! Figs! Goat cheese! Arugula.
After that, the food just kept coming out. Bacon wrapped medjool dates. Mushroom risotto. Fried oysters. House made mozzarella. Stuffed chicken. Crab ravioli.

Wild mushroom risotto with white truffle oil, pecorino, thyme in the foreground,
fried Gulf oysters with housemade bacon, chive, lobster essence in the background 

Housemade mozzarella infused with cinnamon, vanilla, and sugar

Stuffed chicken with boursin, mascarpone, basil, sun dried tomatoes, sherry cream, crispy spinach
Homemade crab ravioli with green onion gremolata and lemon cream
They have fewer beers on tap, but three of them are NOLA taps - Brown, Blonde, and Seventh Street Wheat. Also they have all sorts of flavors of mojitos, caipirinhas, sangrias, and margaritas. Get your girl drink drunk on!

A very cool part of the night was meeting some of the talent in the kitchen. First, the Culinary Director Chef Michael Ruoss came and enjoyed a couple of beers before leaving to receive his whole hog from North (or South?) Carolina for Hogs For the Cause. His team, Mazant National Golf Club, took third in the Whole Hog category a few days later. We talked about beer and Hogs before he had to obey the sweet siren song of his team's whole hog delivery.

A little later, Executive Chef Dustin Brien came out to say hello, bring us housemade cheese, and chat about how he found himself moving from Boston to New Orleans (fell in love with a displaced New Orleans native and they returned together.) He's been streamlining the menu, keeping what worked, replacing what didn't.

After eating what seemed like all the food and chatting with the chefs, several desserts came out to really put things over the top. We had a classic tiramisu, creme brulee, and their dessert flatbread which involves nutella and bananas. I couldn't eat more than a bite or 2 of each, but they were pretty good. Nice crisp sugar top on the creme brulee.

Really, a great night with people who are passionate about food and want everyone to know that. We'll definitely be back for the happy hour mussels (because they were delicious and during happy hour, half price) and I am also intrigued by their monthly (starting on May 25) pig roasts. They do wine dinners as well, but I'm trying to convince them to do a beer dinner one month too!

FYI, they will be doing a fundraising day on April 16, where they will be donating 20% of all proceeds to St. Michael Special School. It's a cause close to many New Orleanians' hearts, so think about checking out Salu, some mussels, a cocktail, and support the kids at St. Michael!

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