Oyster bar; chef/partner Ryan Prewitt; LA31 beer-battered fish sticks. Photos: Denny Culbert
For much of the last decade, Pêche‘s chef and owner Donald Link devoted himself to the pig, delivering oink galore at Cochon and its deli sidekick, Cochon Butcher. With Pêche, Donald and his chef-partners Stephen Stryjewski and Ryan Prewitt turn their focus to the briny deep.
“We knew we didn’t want to do a restaurant that specialized in boiled or fried seafood,” says Ryan. On a barbecue cultural exchange trip to Uruguay, the trio learned about cooking on open-air asados fueled by coals from recently burned wood. They adapted the idea for Pêche by installing a massive wood-burning grill built by Donald’s cousin.
Rather than whole hog, the house specialty is a locally sourced and aptly named whole-hog snapper or other grilled fish delivered as a shared feast. The exterior arrives crisp, but the inside is lush with only a subtle smokiness.
Pair the centerpiece with soulful sides like creamed greens and a rich block of cauliflower-rice casserole. Start with one of several rum-based drinks like The Paul Clifford—a take on a Dark ‘n’ Stormy with ginger beer, orange, and lime—and small plates like noodles tossed with ground shrimp, a nod to Louisiana’s Vietnamese population. For dessert, try the chocolate peanut butter bananas from pastry chef Rhonda Ruckman, whose layering of flavors gives this treat sophistication.
Reservations: Recommended. Cost: Small plates: $5-$10; entrées: $14-$25. Address: 800 Magazine Street. pecherestaurant.com or 504/522-1744
The Hot Plate
Though whole grilled fish is the house specialty, the smoked and butter-braised whole snapper—a frequent stunner—is the dish that has everyone talking. The fish rests atop a pool of silky chile vinaigrette.