I first heard of the Dissident Chef (DC) several years ago, a mysterious figure who was serving underground roving meals to adventurous diners. Mr.K and I enjoyed one such memorable and clandestine meal prepared by chef Russell Jackson, who has since ascended above ground with his recently opened waterfront restaurant Lafitte. The chef has a fondness for the legendary pirate, who is shrouded in mystery and who lives on in the role of revolutionary hero. He sends out weekly communiques to his loyalists which provide insight into l’Evolution of Lafitte. This is how I found out about the LafitteOVisonwEb-cam aka LOVE cam… a strangely compelling webcam that shows an overhead view of the kitchen.This is a view of the building from the back, which overlooks the Bay.
I met my friend Ben, who writes the effervescent foodblog Cooking with the Single Guy, for dinner here last week. The interior is handsome, with high ceilings, tall paned windows and a distinctly industrial feel about it with exposed beams and cement floor.
In the center of the room is a long communal wooden table that certainly looks inviting, but we elected to sit by a window, because we know that natural lighting on the food looks so much better.
The table settings are very modern and sleek, all of which combined to create an inviting tableau…
Our server was friendly and attentive and helped us with the difficult task of deciding what to order. Once that was over, we were served two dinner rolls with lovely pat of sweet butter.
We split the Pan Roasted Padrones and Apricots ($7) which was a surprising combination of sweet and savory. The peppers were charred and blistered and the stems made them delightful fingerfood. I had one that was hot enough to make my lips burn, though most were sweet and mild.
We also shared the Cured Sardines and Breakfast Radish ($8) which proved to me that I can enjoy the silvery little fish with all the tiny little bones. The flesh was tender and succulent, swimming in a delectably piquant vinaigrette, strewn with fresh herbs and the thin slices of radish added a pungent and refreshing crunch.
The Single Guy decided to order the Roasted Scallops with green beans and Harissa Jus ($11) as his first course. He let me sample, and I thought the beans were delicious, buttery and tossed with fresh herbs, but didn’t notice any heat from the Harissa. The Single Guy thought they were bland… but our attention was on the scallops, which were the star of the plate.
The scallops were seared very nicely, the top and bottom of this one in particular was gorgeously blistered so it looked like a tiny little whoopie pie, the body was moist and tender, cooked just right.
He had the Roasted Nettle Spaghetti, with summer squash, fingerling potatoes and ricotta salata ($14) for his entree. Our server described how the pasta was first panfried and then cooked with the sauce made of nettles so that it absorbs the flavor, and I loved how it had an interesting smokey flavor that reminded me of noodles that were stirfried in a well-seasoned wok. The strands of pasta were hollow and chewy and I found them to be very appealing – even though they weren’t mine I kept sneaking noodles off of his plate…
I had the Iberico Shoulder with broccoli rabe and fingerling potatoes ($30), which was practically quivering with rolypoly porcine portliness. The flesh was succulent and juicy with veins of fat running throughout. The exterior was spicy and seared to a delectable crisp. I swooned over the perfectly cooked potatoes, although the rabe was branchlike, chewy, crunchy and bitter.
For dessert, Ben had the Brown Turkey Fig and Plum Tart ($7), which had an unflaky crust and the fruit filing didn’t taste specifically of figs, although the texture was very figgy (fleshy with lots of crunchy seeds). I am not generally one for fruit tarts or pie, and thought this would be improved with a scoop of ice cream.
I was going to get a chocolate cherry roll, but decided to ask our server’s opinion. He said that his favorite was the Buttermilk Pannacotta with Peach Coulis ($8) and on a whim, I decided to go with that. I was very glad that I had as I loved the delicious wobbly texture and the buttermilk flavor was tart but not overly so. It was refreshing and had a rich creamy texture that I couldn’t stop scooping up with my spoon.
All of the servers were wearing black t-shirts with an interesting new word on the front.
I caught a picture of the Dissident Chef in a moment of reverie behind the counter. He must be pleased with his new digs. It’s a lovely restaurant with excellent views of the bay that certainly invites contemplation. I enjoyed the food and the setting and can’t wait to bring Mr. K back for another meal.
“He left a corsair’s name to other times,
Linked one virtue to a thousand crimes.”
- Lord Byron