He’s cooked at several top restaurants in New York and Paris — Nomad, Bâtard and Michelin-starred Daniel, to name a few — but chef Ryan Pearson is now back in his New York hometown. -Orléans to help revive Couvant, the downtown French brasserie at the Eliza Jane hotel which reopens after a two-year hiatus on Thursday, March 17.
Diners can expect a revamped menu as well as a new look at Couvant, which opened in 2018 with Brad McDonald at the helm and has remained closed since the start of the pandemic. “The biggest difference between what Couvant was then and now is that before it was a very literal interpretation of a French brasserie – mussels and fries, steak frites, Lyonnaise salad. Now, we are adopting the French technique, but making dishes that are a bit more modern, involving a bit more creativity,” says Pearson. “And being from here, even though most of my cooking career has been in New York, I still have a close relationship with South Louisiana cuisine, so we incorporate those ingredients, especially the seafood and products. You’re not going to find scallops, salmon, or lobster, but we really embrace what we have here. »
Pearson recently worked for three years as a sous-chef at Daniel in New York, a restaurant with two Michelin stars, after a stint in a “New Orleans-style brasserie” in Paris (before Paris, Pearson worked in the kitchens of Nomad and Bastard in New York). “More than anything, my time in these kitchens inspired me with a burning desire to find the best products possible,” says Pearson.
There are a few dishes in particular that nail the restaurant’s new concept, says Pearson, of applying modern techniques to create simple yet modified versions of traditional pub fare. One is crawfish gnocchi, “A great blend of French and South Louisiana traditions,” says Pearson. It’s a starter of crispy brown butter potato gnocchi served with Nantua sauce, a creamy seafood sauce named after the town in southeastern France where crayfish abound. Pearson uses crawfish broth and crawfish butter to make a brilliant roux for its sauce, which is lightly airy and served over the gnocchi with more crawfish and chili garlic crisp on top. The roasted king red shrimp entrée is almost like New Orleans barbecue shrimp, but instead of a garlic butter sauce, the shrimp is seared in a brandy-based coconut tomato sauce , served with black parmesan rice and drizzled with burnt shallot oil.
The rest of the menu doesn’t shy away from meat, although there are a few other fish dishes and a starter of roasted Japanese eggplant and Israeli couscous. One of Pearson’s favorites is his suckling pig, a version he invented while in France. A confit of suckling pig with a crispy skin on top is served with sweet potatoes, roasted pearl onions and a mustard sauce. Roasted duck breast is a dish that uses the whole bird – it is served with snow pea salad and duck dirty rice that uses rendered fat, minced duck leg and duck liver , while duck jus is made from the bones and incorporates pepper jelly. The brioche-crusted veal entrée is based on a technique Pearson learned at Bâtard, he says, rolling the spinach-wrapped veal into a thin bun before cooking it in butter until tender. get a crispy crust. It is served with mashed potatoes and king’s trumpet mushrooms and topped with devil’s sauce.
“Obviously New Orleans is a really amazing food city, so I always thought I would only come back if I could bring something different, if it was for something dynamic,” Pearson says. “I just feel like I’ve had the opportunity to see things and learn things in other places that I can bring here, which hopefully sets us apart.”
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