Le Cou Rouge chef/owner Richard Graham
brings the fun and flavor of New_Orleans cuisine to Dyersburg , a 90-minute drive_up Highway 51.
In naming the restaurant , which means the red neck in English , chef/owner Richard Graham
set the tone for a Puckish and subtle sense of humor at Le Cou Rouge , which opened last November.Graham , a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America , with stints locally at La Tourelle and Erling Jensen's restaurant , has worked under Emeril Lagasse at Emeril's in New_Orleans
has clearly learned a few things from Lagasse , whom you may know from TV food shows and his
Balmy 60-degree weather plummeted 30 degrees during our hour-and-a-half trip to Dyersburg , bringing with it a full- blown rainstorm.Unprepared for that soggy snag , we were comforted when the maitre d' and servers opened large umbrellas and rushed right_out to our car.The restaurant's front door led into a reception area dominated by a large antique Welsh dresser.Substantial crown moldings and wainscoting in the dining rooms provided architectural interest while framing walls of soothing gray.
With a peek into the bar we found a sort_of American/glam version of a British men's-club bar - warm , welcoming , and well-stocked with premium brands.
sent_out a little treat before our appetizers : bouillon- poached sweetbreads , sauteed and served with a hot bacon-apple cider vinaigrette.This treat was an intriguing counterpoint of luscious and piquant.I love it when chefs play with my taste buds , don't you.
The four of us had difficulty choosing appetizers and finally decided since there were five , we'd just have them all , mad impetuous fools that we were.A faint curry accent in our shrimp and oyster bouillabaisse , plus the addition of coconut milk , removed it from standard or even predictable ; we could have sipped that broth all night and still have begged for more.Also memorable were the smoked-crawfish tamales with a slurpable oven-roasted tomato cream ; the seared foie gras in a brandy deglaze ; and the perfectly roasted Arkansas bobwhite quail accompanied by another Low Country dish , Hoppin' John - black-eyed peas full-flavored with Roma tomatoes , garlic , bacon , chili , curry , celery , and onions.
They just need a bit of seasoning , which they're getting under the tutelage of Graham
and maitre d' Arden Butler ( formerly of Maxwell's and other Memphis restaurants , and leader of the umbrella brigade ) .
Graham's delicious menu , though not strictly New_Orleans , is best described by a quote from John DeMers' The Food of New_Orleans : What New_Orleans cuisine is about today is surprise.There is no way to predict ; there are only ways to enjoy. Graham can't do anything about the missing Lake Pontchartrain , and I can forgo the nuns and naked women , but having seen him segue from gumbo to gumbo salad - he
just might change that po' boy sandwich into a rich man's dream.