- NEW VIEUX: In Hillcrest.
There’s been a restaurant and bar in the attractive old building on the southeast corner of Kavanaugh Boulevard and Beechwood Street for a number of years now. The bar has kept the same name — The Afterthought — but the restaurant has changed identities a few times. The latest incarnation is the recently opened Vieux Carre, and it’s a pleasant addition to a neighborhood that already has several nice eating places in a small area.
(As the restaurant does in its own newspaper ads, let’s establish the pronunciation before going any further. It’s voo-caRAY. Literally, it’s French for “old square.” Practically, it’s another name for the French Quarter in New Orleans, although neither the menu nor the appearance of the restaurant struck us as particularly reminiscent of the French Quarter. Well, there was a “veggie Napoleon” — grilled seasonal vegetables layered with crisp puff pastry — among the entrees. Maybe that should count.)
If our experience was typical, when you choose an appetizer go for the homemade soup of the day, which is the only soup on the menu. Ours was a superb roasted tomato bisque that turned out to be our favorite thing about the meal, and it wasn’t a bad meal, by any means. To be fair, a companion was more than pleased with her crab cakes served on fried polenta with remoulade and Creole sauce. This was fairly expensive for an appetizer, though — $12.
Vieux Carre doesn’t have a particularly large menu, but the salad section offers some variety. Besides a fairly typical house salad and a Caesar, one can get a Vieux Carre (“Crisp Romaine with dried cherries, almonds and shaved parmesan, served with creamy lemon vinaigrette”) and an Arkansas Red (“Locally grown spring greens with fresh strawberries, red onion slivers, sugar-roasted pecans and our own strawberry vinaigrette”). The members of our party who had the specialty salads raved about them. Though, despite its name, the Arkansas Red’s fresh strawberries obviously were not from Arkansas. Not at this time of year.
Our entrees included a pork cutlet served with smoked coleslaw, new potatoes and carrots (if the menu hadn’t said the cutlet was grilled, we’d have thought it fried, but it was tasty, in any case); half a roasted chicken served on mashed sweet potatoes with a brandy cream sauce and fresh asparagus; a trout fillet folded over a pecan stuffing, served on jasmine rice with crushed green peas (we don’t know what happens to green peas in the crushing, but these peas were certainly better than most of the whole green peas we’ve eaten), and a special of the day — pasta with shrimp, oysters and scallops in a chili dressing. There were no complaints about any of them and hardly any leftovers.
Incidentally, the most expensive entree on the menu is a 10-ounce beef tenderloin (“served on potatoes Dauphinoise with a rosemary demi-glace”) for $28. The 6-ounce version goes for $22.
At lunch, the restaurant keeps all the same salads and adds a chicken salad plate. Most of the entrees are replaced by sandwiches — the London broil, a half-pound cheeseburger and a veggie sandwich (“roasted Portobello mushrooms, grilled yellow squash and zucchini, roasted red pepper mayo and provolone on a toasted onion roll”), among others.
Vieux Carre is young, and most likely the service will improve. It could stand some improvement, being on the slow side the night we were there. We waited much longer than we wanted for somebody to take a drink order. But the young staff was friendly and trying to be helpful; things just seemed a little disorganized. They may have been short-handed.
2721 Kavanaugh Blvd.
Try the soup of the day, perhaps combined with one of the specialty salads.
11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday; 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.
Moderate to expensive prices. Credit cards accepted. Full bar.