Digging In: Potatoes via Peru are a tasty first course at a Kenner cafe

WILDCARD

Causa Rellena

Las Carnitas

2721 Roosevelt Blvd., Kenner, (504) 469-1028

Stuck in a Kenner strip mall, this tiny cafe is hard to spot. But if you’re craving traditional Peruvian flavors or are curious about its celebrated blend of global influences, Las Carnitas is the place to find them. The causa rellena ($6.95) is a good starting point, showing the Peruvian flair for casual but tightly composed dishes. Whipped golden potatoes are molded into a cylinder above and below a creamy layer of chicken salad and avocado, capped with boiled egg and a drizzle of aioli. Mellow but full flavored, it’s a simple dish that makes an impression.

UPSCALE

Veal Sweetbreads

Sylvain

625 Chartres St., (504) 265-8123; sylvainnola.com

Refashioning familiar comfort foods with more culinary finesse is one calling card of the gastropub. Sylvain, a cool, attractive example of the niche in the French Quarter, pulls this off in grand style with veal sweetbreads prepared like Buffalo wings. This dish stems from the notion that sweetbreads taste like chicken. They do, but beyond the flavor it’s the velvety texture that usually gets people excited about them, and this dish accentuates that appeal. A collection of short, fat strands of the gland are painted with a buttery, tangy, not-really-hot sauce, while slivers of apple and celeriac root add crunch over the top. A small serving ($14.50) makes a good bar snack, though it’s so rich and riveting that the large ($28) is better suited to a shared course than it is to an entrée.

CASUAL

New Orleans A.K.

Welty’s Deli

336 Camp St., (504) 592-0223; weltysdeli.com

Tina and Donald Welty opened their CBD deli very soon after Katrina, which explains the initials in their build-your-own “New Orleans A.K.” sandwich ($12.50): four deli meats (you pick them) stacked with four cheeses on a toasted muffuletta loaf for a hot sandwich weighing in at 24 ounces. Carry it over to the deli’s self-serve condiment bar stocked with various mayos, dressings and pickled onions and peppers, and try out different combinations. Certainly, this sandwich gives you plenty of territory to experiment. Show even a little restraint and it will probably give you enough leftovers for a second meal, too.