On the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain in Covington, seasoned local chefs Carl Schaubhut and Jean-Pierre Guidry are blending local and global flavors at the casual yet sophisticated Bacobar, their international street food concept.
The contemporary menu is filled with innovative yet approachable dishes and cocktails that highlight the chefs’ favorite ingredients in new and exciting ways. They even offer a “Bacopedia” to help patrons understand some of the international street food fusions that may be unfamiliar territory. For instance, there is the bäco, a combination of an Asian steamed bun, or bao, and a taco. Carl and Jean-Pierre stretch the limits of Cajun and Creole cookery by infusing their creations with Asian and Latin flavors, turning out items like Gumbo Ramen, which combines a dark seafood gumbo “that any grandmother would approve” with Asian ingredients such as fermented Korean chile paste, ramen, and shiitake mushrooms.
“The idea was to take ingredients that we love to use and cuisines we love to eat, and build a menu off of that with no real limitations,” Carl says. “What we’re trying to do at Bacobar…is to be something that people can’t just find down the street.”
Carl and Jean-Pierre, both Louisiana natives, met while working at Commander’s Palace under Chef Tory McPhail. Jean-Pierre worked with Daniel Boulud in New York and at the Auberge du Soleil in Napa Valley after graduating from the Culinary Institute of America. Carl, a self-taught chef, helped open Fire in New Orleans’ Lower Garden District and worked at a resort in Grayton Beach, Florida, before joining Commander’s Palace as a sous chef. He went on to become the executive chef at its sister restaurant Café Adelaide, where he worked until opening Bacobar.
While Carl was at Café Adelaide, he was diagnosed with cancer. After he went into remission, he had a creative resurgence and realized the time was right to go out on his own. He and Jean-Pierre had talked about opening a place together, and although both chefs have extensive fine-dining experience, they decided to do something unexpected.
“Given our background, everybody kind of thought we would open a white tablecloth, fine-dining spot. We said, ‘Let’s do something that’s fun and hip and enjoyable,’” Carl says.
Bacobar opened in early 2016 and has been delighting diners ever since. Its rotating menu is filled with playful dishes like Crispy Oysters & Pork Belly; braised pork Kimchi Debris Fries; and Shrimp Remoulade Tostones with crispy plantains, cebollitas-tomato salad, cilantro, red bean hummus, and a wasabi rémoulade.
Then there are the eponymous bäcos. Among the options are the bäc-bäc Shrimp Bäcos—filled with crispy Gulf shrimp, cucumber, pickled veggies, Seoul sauce, and sesame seeds—and the Chipotle-Agave Brisket Bäcos, brimming with smoky sweet beef debris, Brussels sprouts, lime onion relish, and crispy shallots.
For their beverage program, the team consulted with New Orleans bar maven Lu Brow (of Brennan’s), and her menu follows Bacobar’s culinary esthetic by using fresh ingredients and topnotch spirits. Bacobar’s frozen drink menu features fanciful takes on cocktail classics (including a Caramel Coffee Milk Punch, margarita, and French 75).
Carl and Jean-Pierre’s dedication to using the best local and ethnic ingredients and their willingness to push the envelope has resulted in a menu of fun dishes that have set Bacobar apart.
“People love how unique it is,” Carl says. “They love the creativity involved. I think they also love that there are chefs in the building every day…and that we’re always coming up with new and innovative things.”
5 dishes to try
YELLOWFIN TUNA POKE TOSTADA
BÄC-BÄC SHRIMP BÄCO
CRISPY OYSTERS & PORK BELLY
VIETNAMESE COFFEE PARFAIT