The Bakery-Bar in the Lower Garden District has a new chef, Lydia Solano, who previously headed the kitchen at Bacchanal. Chef Lydia will present a new menu and the Bakery Bar will host a daily brunch.
Growing up, Solano divided his time between the United States and Costa Rica. After graduating from culinary school in Boston, she hitchhiked across the country, working in kitchens and learning skills on the job.
“I’ve worked everywhere from smokehouses to Japanese sushi restaurants,” she said. “I learned a wide aspect of cooking by stopping in different places and working where I could.”
Eight years ago, when she first visited New Orleans and began spending time there regularly, she began introducing Creole flavors into her cuisine. His menu at the Bakery Bar reflects Creole and Latin influences.
“I grew up with Latin food, so that’s what I’m comfortable with,” she says, “but I fell in love with New Orleans French cuisine; I wanted to combine these two flavors.
Chef Lydia describes The Bakery Bar’s brunch menu as a balance between traditional brunch dishes and less conventional fare.
One dish she is particularly proud of is Oxtail Benedict, in which oxtail is sous vide in mirepoix and red wine for 24 hours, then mixed with a roux and shaped into a croquette.
On the sweeter side, there’s French toast made with apple chunks, caramel apple drizzle, custard and toasted pecans, topped with blackberry compote and plantain custard.
For those who want to stay vegan and gluten-free, the menu features chia seed pudding made with rice milk and homemade rice pudding, topped with cardamom strudel and orange supreme.
The Bakery Bar is also revamping its dinner menu, a decision Chef Lydia says was made to coordinate with the brunch menu. “The dinner menu leans more towards French fusion but offers a more extensive selection of dishes,” she said.
Chef Lydia’s favorites include fried hibiscus pickles made with candied garlic and homemade chamoy; and Blackened Tilapia served with squash, zucchini salad and fried green plantains called patacones.
“The tilapia is from Ecuador, and I haven’t found cleaner or fresher fish anywhere else in the city, so far,” she said.
Another interesting addition is Bone Marrow smoked on site with black garlic butter fermented in chimichurri and served with micro vegetables, confit garlic, pickled onions, a lime wedge and patacones.
Other menu highlights include his version of Buffalo Wings – deep-fried confit chicken tossed in bourbon buffalo sauce and served with buttermilk ranch – and Moules Mariniere, mussels from Prince Island. -Édouard steamed with banana leaves and candied oranges in a white wine cream sauce.
A selection of salads and restaurant favourites, the Bakery Bar burger, made with four kinds of cheese, confit bacon, tomato, mesclun, chef’s pickled onions, confit garlic aioli; and Dumpster Fries, made with Urban South Oktoberfest beer cheese, pork scraps and grilled onions, round out the dinner menu.
Chef Lydia will be offering Bone Marrow Broth Gumbo and Central American Tamales for the holidays and has a few other menu items still in the works.
Chef Lydia knows her menu is a change for The Bakery Bar, but hopes customers will enjoy her take on what brunch and dinner can be.
“My goal is to create beautiful dishes that will strike a balance between comfort, beauty and sustainability,” she said. “I love expressing myself through food with local flair and I think that reflects in what we do here.”
The Bakery Bar still serves as the home base for Debbie Dobergewhere customers can get pieces of the multi-layered cake by slice.
The restaurant is also known for its unique cocktails, such as the Glima invented by staff member Jessie. It is made with gin, OP Anderson aquavit, pear nectar, cane sugar vinegar, Fever Tree premium tonic water and pear. Another is Foolish Games invented by staff member Joe and made with Sazerac rye, apple juice, Allspice Dram, cardamom chai, lemon, and bitters.
Hours: The Bakery Bar is open Tuesday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Brunch is served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; dinner is served from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.