Eastern accents set off French classic at Meauxbar

UPSCALE

Sea Bass en Papillote

Meauxbar Bistro

942 N. Rampart St. (504) 569-9979, meauxbar.com

Meauxbar follows the familiar contours of a French bistro, from the bentwood chairs and zinc bar to the charcuterie and tarte tatin on the menu. But one of the pleasures of this French Quarter spot is the way Far Eastern accents are gently, tastefully worked into the program. Case in point: the sea bass en papillote (market price, though $29 recently). Cooked in parchment (“en papillote”), it starts with a classic approach still employed at old- line French Creole restaurants to lock in juices as a self-basting liquid. But here, the flavors gilding this delicately flaking, lily-white fish are sesame, ginger, fresh cilantro and citrus while a pulse of salty soy and red pepper runs underneath. It arrives with the oven-browned parchment peeled back like a round frame for this beautiful dish.

WILDCARD

Power Trio Toasts

HiVolt

1829 Sophie Wright Pl. (504) 324-8818, hivoltcoffee.com

This new cafe in the Lower Garden District serves artfully crafted specialty coffees (sometimes called Third Wave coffee) and a short but distinctive list of sandwiches, salads and breakfast dishes. “Toast” gets its own menu category but these thick slices of baguette are more like bruschetta than buttered wheat or white. The power trio ($5.95) option gives you a sampler: one topped with smooth peanut butter, shaved coconut and bits of raw jalapeno; another with honeyed ricotta, sliced grapes and pecans; and a third with cashew “cheese” that is vegan but tastes very creamy and rich. Varied and offbeat it’s refreshingly light but still filling enough for a quick lunch.

CASUAL

Eggplant Vincent

Porter & Luke’s Restaurant

1517 Metairie Rd., Metairie

(504) 875-4555

porterandlukes.com

Porter & Luke’s is less than a year old, but it’s found in a well-known restaurant location (the former Zeke’s) and works the familiar turf of local seafood and Creole Italian fare. The eggplant Vincent ($15.95) is a marquee example. Paneed, a band of eggplant is formed into a hollow column and filled with a crawfish and shrimp cream sauce until it cascades over the edge. A pile of spaghetti soaks up the overflow and turns into a seafood pasta on the side.