Reviews

5945 Tchopitoulas St.

New Orleans, LA 70 I I 5

Beer, Bordeaux and Burgundy on the Bayou

www.bayouwinegarden.com
www.bayouwinegarden.com

What started out as a local dive bar on the foot of Bayou St. John in Midcity has quickly become the biggest sports patio bar in the city. And with the addition of a Wine and Charcuterie Bar it’s easily the hottest spot in the Big Easy right now. When owners Dean Disalvo and Fiona Delarge opened the Bayou Beer Garden in 2009, they couldn’t have imagined in their wildest dreams the success that they would accrue over the next seven years. The former Mick’s bartender (Delarge) and NOFD Captain (Disalvo) teamed up and purchased an old coffee shop on Jeff Davis Pkwy that—like many other local businesses—was never able to bounce back after Katrina. When Beer Garden first opened, it was a dimly lit bar illuminated only by foggy lights, red candles and bright poker machines. One could see clouds of cigarette smoke hanging over the scuffed pool table as an old school juke box belted out INXS’ “Suicide Blonde”. It wasn’t long before the charm and charisma of the bar, it’s colorful cast of regulars and personable employees began to pull in bigger and bigger crowds. Disalvo and Delarge recognized the potential of their huge courtyard and began constructing a deck and outside patio bar. After opening a kitchen, hanging a few big screen tv’s around the back porch and offering live music on the weekends; the place was packed seven nights a week. In 2012, Whereyat Magazine voted the BBG the number one place to watch a Saint’s game (if you weren’t actually at the game). In January 2016, BBG General Manager Dave Demerest and Kitchen Manager Virginia Demerest (husband and wife) partnered with Disalvo and Delarge to open a wine and charcuterie bar called the Bayou Wine Garden. Located just behind the Beer Garden; the two bars share a huge, common patio space. Adopting the new concept of keg wine, the Wine Garden boasts 32 wines on tap as well as a huge, hundred-plus bottle selection. Draft wines include everything from Italian pinot grigio to Oregon pinot noir. And the bottle collection is well-balanced to suit any wine drinker’s palate: crisp sparkling whites, vibrant roses, full-bodied reds, etc. “It’s more of a compliment to the Bayou Beer Garden,” said Dave Demerest. “You have beer and burgers next door at the Beer Garden and wine, charcuterie, craft-type sandwiches and cocktails at the Wine Garden.” And when it comes to meats and cheeses Virginia is knocking it out of the park. All the meats and sausages are cured or smoked in-house. The only things on the menu not made in-house are some of the cheeses and mustards. “One of the big concepts with charcuterie is nose-to-tail eating and using every part of a pig,” said Virginia. “We wanted to do the same concept, but with duck.” Ham, prosciutto, liver mousse and confit are a few of the duck items on the menu, but it doesn’t stop there. The lamb bacon, goat ham and alligator tasso have all been consistent favorites with customers. “Oh my god, lamb bacon! ” exclaimed Vinson Meyers, a guest at the bar. “Are you kidding me? [It’s] so good. She uses cane syrup that gives it the perfect balance of sweet and smoky.” But it’s not just the food and wine that’s drawing in customers. It’s also the ambiance. Walking through the front door, guests are immediately greeted by the welcoming scent of freshly-baked breadsticks. The interior is beautifully furnished with 100-year-old cypress pulled from the Mississippi River and softly lit with Edison light bulbs and candles giving the bar a classy, rustic look and feel. As customers step out to back courtyard, they are soothed by the tranquil sounds of a picturesque water fountain that adds a subtle touch of elegance to the already-chic atmosphere. But as we all know, a great bar experience is only as good as the bartenders and servers. All that atmosphere, wine and food mean nothing without quality service. Here the knowledgable staff makes you feel welcome. Whether you’re a first-time wine drinker or a master sommelier, the guys and gals behind the bar know how to take care of you. And their knowledge doesn’t stop at wines and cheeses. The craft cocktail is another impressive aspect that sets the BWG apart. Using all fresh, in-house prepared ingredients, these masters of the cocktail mix up some deliciously refreshing summertime drinks as well as a few year-round favorites. Topping the list for me is their take on the Moscow Mule, the “Rendon Mule”. Using a lime and hibiscus-infused simple syrup and home-made ginger beer, this thirst quencher is a must-have for the brutal NOLA summers. Coming in a close second is “The Fireman”. Named after Disalvo’s other profession, this bourbon-based cocktail is accented with elderflower liqueur then kicked up a notch with fresh jalapeños creating a perfect balance of sweet, sour and spice. And rounding out my top three is the “Not Your Mother’s Lemonade”. Using a brilliantly-concocted strawberry-infused vodka, muddled basil and a sparkling rose floater; this one goes down dangerously easy. With other wine bars around the city, Demerest said it was just the right time for a big wine bar in Midcity. “Midcity bars usually take the best things from other bars around town and they put it in Midcity.” says Demerest. “That’s why you end up hanging out in Midcity the whole time or moving out here.” The bar opened in late January and has been going strong ever since. The staff sets up regular wine tastings and classes with their suppliers which makes for an easy way to learn about wine in a relaxing, care-free setting. There’s no table service so there’s no need for a reservation and plenty of seating on the enormous patio. For details on tastings and upcoming events check out their website at www.bayouwinegarden.com

By JOHN HOWARD

Bayou-Wine-Garden

Bayou Wine Garden