The global culinary trend of tapas surfaces in one of Baton Rouge’s most historic districts at Restaurant IPO, which launched on Third Street in June. Chef Chris Wadsworth’s menu is flush with Southern-inspired and locally sourced small plates. Highlights include miniature tacos stuffed with redfish ceviche and andouille bacon bits, sweet and spicy coconut curry mussels, and tasso-infused deviled “bayou eggs” topped with fried oysters. Apple pie eggrolls and fried cheesecake with bananas Foster sauce make for a fun ending to a meal. Wash it all down with the signature cane mojito.
Also new on the downtown Baton Rouge small-plate scene is Blend, which combines the sophistication of a well-edited wine bar with a wow-worthy tapas menu that features such shareable dishes as crispy pork belly, lamb carpaccio and butter-poached shrimp. Chef Eric Sibley’s menu also includes notable cheese and charcuterie platters that rise to the level of edible art. For each menu item, complementary wines—chosen from a unique selection of boutique bottles—are suggested to create the perfect pairing, so there’s no risk of mixing the wrong red with your short ribs.
For Italians—much like for residents of south Louisiana—dining is an integral part of life, as much a social experience as a way to nourish the body. Zolia Bistro and Enoteca, the latest offering from restaurateur Louis DeAngelo, reflects this truth with a warm and lively downtown environment in which diners are welcomed to share savory dishes straight from the heart of Italy—from pesto-marinated salmon and grilled artichokes with shaved Parmesan to five different kinds of crostini and overflowing antipasto boards.
The cozy patio at Perkins Rowe’s Bin 77 might just be one of the best spots to enjoy an al fresco meal this fall. A newly revamped menu of light and flavorful small plates, designed to harmonize with the extensive wine selection (this place used to be called The Grape, after all), is well-suited to the courtyard atmosphere. The roasted-garlic hummus—called by some diners the city’s best—is served with both pita and goat cheese–stuffed Peppadews, and a rich baked Brie is presented alongside vibrant seasonal fruit.