Donald Link is on a roll. In 2007, he won the James Beard Foundation's award for Best Chef South on the merits of his first restaurant, Herbsaint. Earlier in 2008, his second restaurant, Cochon, was picked by New York Times restaurant critic Frank Bruni as one of his favorite 10 new restaurants outside New York.
So how to start off 2009? Link has a double play planned with two new ventures set to open early next year.
The latest news from the Link camp concerns Calcasieu, a new venue for private dinners and parties scheduled to open in January. The facility is located upstairs from Cochon in the Warehouse District and will have its own kitchen and four rooms for events. Different menus are designed for seated lunches and dinners, banquets, buffets, brunches and catered receptions. A look at the sample menus, posted online, suggests the cuisine planned for Calcasieu will draw from the same playbook used at Herbsaint and Cochon, with a mix of the rustic and refined.
Link's other project in the works is a combination butcher shop and upscale sandwich shop located adjacent to Cochon. It's called Butcher and Link plans to open it early next year along with partners Stephen Stryjewski (who is his co-chef at Cochon) and Warren Stephens. This will be a retail shop with specialty meats cured in house and Cajun butcher shop staples like boudin, andouille and tasso. Butcher will also serve sandwiches, cheese and wines. It too is scheduled to open in January.
-- Ian McNulty