Two prominent restaurateurs have teamed up to open Dominique’s on Magazine, the hottest new restaurant in uptown New Orleans, with the most interesting concept I have seen in several years in my favorite area of the city.
A tapestry of unique taste adventures combine with a superb selection of affordably priced wines to create a deliciously provocative, global dining experience at Dominique’s, which is unrivaled in creativity in a city famed for its long tradition of culinary wonders. Bold and exciting flavors, and unexpected reinterpretations of classic dishes entice diners with surprises throughout each meal.
Having critiqued New Orleans restaurants in print since the late 1980s, I find it refreshing to be continually amazed during one single dinner experience. Such was the case recently at Dominique’s. For instance, it was a first for me to be served a fresh slab of honeycomb tableside (courtesy of beekeeper Dr. Brobson Lutz) with a goat cheesecake. Just to dribble on top of my dessert. And it was equally wonderful to discover five different kinds of fresh basil grown on the premises that were used for an aioli, which accompanied a lobster and celery root salad. Count ’em: five different basils in one sauce, fresh from the outdoor garden.
Among the appetizers, our server suggested trying the fried chicken with macaroni and cheese. I was of course quite skeptical until it arrived with its deeply satisfying Tanglewood Farms organic duck fat fried chicken with a medallion of macaroni (baked with several gourmet cheeses from St. James Cheese Company) and embellished with a classic French confit. It was to die for, to our surprise. From the royal red shrimp ceviche with Vietnamese cilantro and lime peppers to the exquisite Morgan Ranch charred Wagu beef tartare with tamari and ginger, crispy onions, and avocado crème fraiche, the appetizers were a feast for the senses.
Chef Dominique Macquet and Mauricio Andrade have created a recipe for success with their new venture located at 4729 Magazine Street. Chef Macquet was formerly the chef-partner of Dominique’s in the Hotel Maison Dupuy in the French Quarter. Andrade led Chef Emeril Lagasse’s collection of restaurants as director of operations for nine years during his 16-year tenure with the renowned chef. He propelled Emeril’s restaurant empire (which now boasts 1,300 employees in a dozen restaurants throughout the U.S.) to new heights while in charge of his corporate headquarters, Emeril’s Homebase, and new business developments for the company.
The charming, 60-seat Dominique’s on Magazine, located in a renovated double shotgun cottage adorned with hand-rubbed Venetian plaster walls and original local art, has a lushly landscaped front patio with several outdoor tables for dining, and a small side yard (Sin Alley) with funky signs, candles, and a few small tables near the chef’s herb garden in the rear (perfect for aperitifs or postprandials, and those taking a smoke break).
Amazingly, the small grounds surrounding the restaurant are also used for growing sugarcane for various dishes (including sugarcane skewers used for the chef’s kebobs). Taking freshness a step further, Chef Macquet also has his own beehive to produce the honey that is used in desserts and cocktails. Such dedication is a trademark of Chef Macquet, a Mauritian Island native that has lived in New Orleans for the past 15 years and just recently resurfaced after a three-year hiatus to open the new Dominique’s.
I first discovered Chef Dominique Macquet in 1995 during my decade as a restaurant critic for Gambit newsweekly. He contacted me shortly after arriving in New Orleans as the new chef of Le Bistro at Maison de Ville. The young chef was excited and ambitious, more than most. After sampling his exquisite cuisine on several occasions, I had no doubt that this passionate young chef was destined to be a rising star and would soon win recognition for his unusual talent, passion, and dedication.
During the next several years, he gained a following among New Orleans foodies and was eventually invited to cook at the White House twice, at the James Beard Foundation in New York, the U.S. Embassy in Paris, and at Disney’s Epcot Food and Wine Festival. He garnered such accolades as being 12 Chefs to Keep Your Eye On by Esquire in 1996, and was named a Rising Star of American Cuisine by Wine Spectator in 1998, and went on to appear on the Food Network, CNN, and the CBS Morning News.
Chances are, you will never eat anything heavy in this little uptown gem. Entrées include such offerings as sautéed Louisiana soft-shell crab (rolled in panko breadcrumbs), which are very light and fabulous, served with an eggplant beignet. Pan-seared black drum arrives piping hot with a corn-mirliton risotto flecked with lime, grapefruit, and scotch bonnet mojo. Even the leg of lamb farci isn’t overbearing with its oven-dried tomatoes, melted leeks, and tarragon whipped potatoes as light as air.
If you want to show off something new and hip with friends during the holidays in New Orleans, make reservations at Dominique’s on Magazine (504-894-8881; DominiquesonMag.com). There is something called a “sugarcane festival” in place until December 31, in addition to special holiday dishes that are well worth checking out, courtesy of an artist who is always full of surprises.