Mouthwatering Meals on Magazine: Baru
A few days ago, Flojindamesa over at Eat Drink Nola posted about Baru, a Caribbean/Tapas restaurant on Magazine Street. Of course after reading her post, Baader-Meinhof Syndrome set in and I saw Baru mentioned everywhere! Brother O’Mara has been working in that part of town this week, and suggested we check the place out on Friday night, so we picked up a bottle of Domaine Audras 2006 Julienas at Martin Wine Cellar and made our way to the lovely purple building on the corner of Magazine and Amelia Streets.
As Flojindamesa noted, Baru is strictly BYOB and charges a flat $8 corkage fee. I have no problem with this, as $8 is far less than I usually spend on drinks at a restaurant, I can bring whatever I want, and it allows me to spend more money on food!
I can’t overstate what a wonderful time Brother O’Mara and I had that evening. Even though the day had been blisteringly hot, we decided to sit outside on the sidewalk rather than wait half an hour to score an inside table, and as a result we had some great social interactions and got in a lot of good people-watching. The service was terrific — attentive and pleasant butnot overbearing — while the atmosphere was relaxed and unpretentious. And the food. Oh, the FOOD! A tapas restaurant was the perfect choice for us that night, because I had recently eaten an entire pastrami on rye at Stein’s Deli, while O’Mara was famished from a long day at work; thus I ordered one small plate and he ordered three.
I had the ceviche, described on the menu as “fresh gulf fish marinated in lime juice and mixed with avocado, cilantro, and pickled red onion”, and it was exactly what I was craving. The heat outside combined with my lack of extreme hunger meant this cool, refreshing dish satisfied me completely.
This was the first of O’Mara’s dishes to come out: roasted red bell pepper marinated in olive oil and citrus, served with grilled bread. Cool and crisp, this was a terrific appetizer, especially once the juices seeped into the bread and made it all soft. Mmm.
chuzo and empanadas
Grilled skirt steak marinated in mojo and served with chimichurri and papas fritas. Man o nam, this was a great little piece of meat. That’s what she said. The chimichurri was nothing to sniff at, either. What a great combination of flavors.
Picadillo beef-filled cornmeal pies with aji. I’ve since learned that aji is a pepper native to Peru, but I wish I had more words to describe how awesome this sauce was. I tried to pick out flavors at the time of ingestion, but apparently I was too wrapped up in the moment to remember anything noteworthy. You’ll just have to trust me that it was FANTASTIC!
Since we didn’t have to pay for a bottle of wine, we decided to go for two desserts, the Tres Leches Cake and the Mango Flan, both of which were presented beautifully and served as delightful finishes to the meal. Look at that use of fresh fruit!
tres leches cake and mango flan
The combination of great food and great wine was enough to make it an evening to remember, but we were lucky enough to make the acquaintance of one Manolo, who was eating dinner there with his family and turned out to be very close friends with Baru’s owner, chef Edgar Caro. Manolo took a shine to us, and insisted we go back to the kitchen to meet Edgar, which we were glad to do. It’s always a pleasure to be able to interact on a personal level with someone who has created such a wonderful, comfortable environment for his patrons.
I really cannot wait to make a return trip to this little gem of a restaurant.
Baru Bistro and Tapas
3700 Magazine St
New Orleans, LA 70115-2637
(exterior photo by David Grunfeld of the Times-Picayune, food photos by lafille, taken with O’Mara’s new iPhone)