Ever since its opening at The Old No. 77 Hotel in the Warehouse Arts District, Compère Lapin has been a hit in the New Orleans dining scene. Helmed by Nina Compton, the restaurant takes on the New Orleans Creole cuisine from the Caribbean angle (she was born in the Caribbean island of St. Lucia). When my wife Jun and I showed up for dinner during our New Orleans, the dining space was absolutely packed on a Tuesday with avid guests looking to sample interesting dishes coming out from the kitchen. While there were some hits and misses, we did have a pleasant dining experience at Compère Lapin.
After starting our meal with fresh half a dozen chilled oysters from Alabama, we tried the Caribbean seafood pepper pot. The flavor of the soup was quite interesting in its rustic quality, and the assortment of fish and shrimp varieties was delicious too. On the other hand, the main dishes were somewhat mixed. Jun and I had no issue with the curried goat that seems to have become the signature dish at the restaurant. With sweet potato gnocchi and cashews, we both really liked the hearty feel to the goat that was prepared with both creativity and thoughtfulness. We rarely have goat meat together but I wouldn’t mind having this dish every once in a while.
Unfortunately, the jerk black drum fish was the weakest dish of the night. The fish was cooked OK, but the surrounding sunchokes and radishes didn’t really add up to the overall dish but instead were distractions that didn’t quite fit in in terms of flavor or texture. For dessert, roasted banana zeppole with rum caramel was a very delightful dish. Jun couldn’t hide her excitement when the server told her the zeppole had Nutella chocolate inside!
As noted above, Compère Lapin is a very popular restaurant in New Orleans so I suggest booking as early as possible. There is a full bar with some potent New Orleans-based cocktails that you should try for complementing the meal. The exposed brick and dimly lit dining space adds another charm to the overall experience. I’m not ready to declare Compère Lapin the best restaurant in New Orleans but there is a good number of interesting looking dishes that also turn out to be mostly delicious. If you want to see how a chef reinterprets the Creole tradition with her Caribbean root, it is a place worth stopping by.
- Creativity: 8.5/10
- Execution: 8.5/10
- Ingredients: 8.0/10
- Flavor: 8.5/10
- Texture: 8.0/10
- Value: 8.0/10
Address: 535 Tchoupitoulas Street, New Orleans, LA 70130
Telephone: (504) 599-2119