Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 September 2011 10:56
Baru Bistro & Tapas
WHY IT'S NOTEWORTHY
Baru serves the food of Colombia, which has similarities to Central American, South American, and Caribbean food. There are even aspects of the cuisine that remind one of New Orleans. The small restaurant has an engaging, romantic quality that doesn't seem obvious, but it's clear that the many couples who dine here are charmed by the place and its food.
The tapas part of the menu (appetizers, to translate) is interesting enough that you can make a full meal from it. Most of the entrees are better divided for two, anyway--notably the parrillada platter of grilled meats with chimichurri. Although seafood might seem to be the mainstay (and they do make great ceviche, among other things), it's the meat dishes that will leave the best impressions.
Owner-chef Edgar Caro came here from Cartagena, Colombia, and his food accurately reflects that provenance. Baru is the name of a beach-lined island off the Colombian coast. As is common for certain addresses around New Orleans, a licensing problem keep Baru from serving alcohol, but their fresh fruit drinks are terrific.
The restaurant is in a colorful, mostly-lavender corner building where a small grocery store operated for decades. The interior is gaudier than the exterior, in tones of bright greens and yellows. Most of the tables are along two pillow-softened banquettes of minimal comfort. A half-dozen or so tables on the sidewalk under the balcony are popular, and sometimes fill before the dining room does.
»Ceviche (lime-cured fish, avocado)
»Atun tartare (raw tuna, coconut oil, avocado)
Langostinos (Colombian shrimp cocktail)
Pimenton (roasted red pepper)
»Mazorca (grilled corn, cheese, "pink sauce," potato sticks)
Guacabello (grilled portobello, avocado)
»Empanadas (picadillo beef in cornmeal pie)
»Chuzos (grilled steak, shrimp, chorizo)
»Ostras (fried oysters, aioli)
Croquetas (fried balls of white fish and potatoes)
»Tamalitos de cerdo (pork tamales)
»Chicharrones (fried pork belly, garlic mojo)
Arepas (white cornmeal cakes, beans, pulled pork)
»Torticas de cangrejo (curried crab cakes, mango chutney)
»Seared fresh tuna, local greens, tomatoes, avocado, ginger vinaigrette
Coriander-crusted shrimp, mango, tomatoes, avocado, greens citrus vinaigrette
»Crabmeat, hearts of palm, corn, avocado, greens, pickled red onions
»Carne asada (skirt steak, cilantro potatoes, chorizo)
»Flat iron grilled thick pork chop, fried yuca, wild mushrooms
»Camarones al ajillo (fried shrimp, jicama slaw, Chihuahua cheese, jalapeño polenta)
Guava-glazed duck breast, roasted garlic mofongo, grilled asparagus
»Fried whole fish, coconut rice, mango slaw
»Lechon Cubano (roast pork shoulder, falling apart)
»Patacon con todo (grilled chicken, steak, chorizo, white cheese
»Sorbets (passionfruit, guanabana)
»Tres leches cake
FOR BEST RESULTS
Make a reservation. This is a small, popular place. Be prepared to sit very close to someone else if you dine indoors. Try dishes that don't sound quite right; they're the best in the house. Bring your own wine, and be prepared to pay an $8 corkage fee per bottle.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
The seating in the dining room is a bit too tight and hard to get in and out of. It would be nice for drinks and wine to be served, but that's out of the management's control (although they're working on it).
FACTORS OTHER THAN FOOD
Up to three points, positive or negative, for these characteristics. Absence of points denotes average performance in the matter.
- Dining Environment +1
- Consistency +2
- Value +2
- Attitude +1
- Wine and Bar
- Hipness +2
- Local Color +2
- Sidewalk tables
- Open Sunday dinner
- Open all afternoon
- Easy, nearby parking
- Reservations accepted