Gourmet on the Go: Compère Lapin
If you’ve never previously been to New Orleans or a few years have passed since your last visit, you’ll surely head first for a culinary classic like Commander’s Palace or Antoine’s. But on night two or three, you’ll do well to try a fast-rising newcomer called Compère Lapin.
Featuring a Caribbean-influenced menu, this hip, brick-walled restaurant occupies a 19th century coffee warehouse four blocks from the French Quarter in the bustling Arts District. Chef Nina Compton—a New Orleans “Top Chef” runner-up in the 2013–14 season—pays homage to her St. Lucia upbringing with such dishes as a delightful small plate of conch croquettes, a neat stack of lightly fried logs with pickled-pineapple tartar sauce, and a curried goat second course accompanied with ethereal sweet potato gnocchi.
Named for a Brer Rabbit—like the prankster rabbit in Southern tales, the restaurant is slyly playful—from the pink bunny silhouette stenciled in bitters atop the foam of the well-made pisco sour to such nods to local and other cuisines as an offering of crispy dirty rice arancini with a sour orange mojo. Even the tiny bottle of house-made hot sauce is part of the performance. The top unscrews to reveal an eyedropper.
Compére Lapin, 535 Tchoupitoulas St., New Orleans (504) 599-2119 comperelapin.com