Used to be, you’d drive into Baton Rouge and you only had a couple of choices for food. They were never high end but they were tried-and-true favorites, and the reason for liking such fare was often nostalgia. That’s not the case anymore, as evidenced by these dishes. As the writer for 225 Dine, these were the best things I ate in 2014:
Duck Egg Carbonara at Nino’s Italian. Chef Elton Hyndman is a magician, and Nino’s is one of the more underrated restaurants in the city. This is the best pasta dish I’ve had this year, hands down.
Beef short ribs Milanese at Beausoleil. Hearty and tender ribs served over smoked cheddar orzo mac and cheese. Bonus points for the Bocage restaurant’s delicious take on boudin balls.
Triple-seared beef tenderloin at Bin 77. Chef David Dickensauge ups the ante at his Perkins Rowe restaurant with this dish, served with crispy bone marrow, oxtail-foie gras pave, Brussels sprouts and a housemade Worcestershire sauce.
Lamb shank at Zoroona. A broiled, tender lamb shank served over a bed of rice with mint jelly. This probably ends the debate about who has the best Greek and Mediterranean food in town.
Soft shell crab BLT at Juban’s. A buttery, crispy, gluttonous delight.
Black pepper beef, Omi Pork at Omi. The Essen Lane restaurant is on to something, pinning down the authentic Asian market, thanks to addictive dishes like these.
Blue in Black with Pork Burger at Restaurant IPO. A blue cheese-stuffed blackened burger, dressed with smoked onion marmalade and crispy pork belly, this dish turns me into Homer Simpson, who would dream about this regularly.
1554 Black Lager braised short ribs at Galatoire’s Bistro. A special dish served as part of a New Belgium beer dinner earlier this year, Chef Kelley McCann knocked this dish out of the park.
Tenderloin Caesar sandwich at Maxwell’s Market. Grilled beef tenderloin, portobello mushrooms, Parmesan cheese … are you drooling yet? I am, too.
Bourbon barbecue pulled pork sandwich, Harvest chicken salad at Pronto. Fresh, delicious and served out of a little yellow truck by Kathy Mangham of Gourmet Girls.
Calzone at Mama Della’s. Made with real ricotta cheese, mozzarella and other fillings of your choice, this is the closest and best thing Baton Rouge will get to New York. Once you’ve had this, you’ll never go back to what other pizza places call calzones.
Carmelo panini at La Divina. My go-to meal when I’ve had a rough day. It doesn’t hurt that they have the best espresso, either.