Chef Edgar Caro made his name in New Orleans at his restaurant Baru Bistro & Tapas (3700 Magazine St., 504-895-2225; www.barutapas.com), where he serves dishes from his native Colombia. The food at his most recent venture, Basin Seafood & Spirits (3222 Magazine St., 504-302-7391), has a lot more to do with his adopted Louisiana home, and also with his partner in the new restaurant.
Caro recently opened Basin Seafood with Tommy Peters, a former fishing guide whose family operated a fishing charter business out of Venice, La. Caro was one of their clients, and Peters says he was always impressed by what the chef could do with the day's catch once he got it dockside – or even before then.
"We caught a snapper one time and he made it into ceviche right there on the boat," Peters says. "It was just four ingredients and it was the best ceviche I'd ever had. We've been friends ever since."
At Basin Seafood, the short menu takes a straightforward, more modern, often lighter approach to Louisiana seafood than the fried and boiled template, joining what's turning into a promising trend around town. There is a fried seafood platter, a shrimp po-boy and, while they're in season, boiled crawfish. But then there's whole grilled fish with roasted jalapeno and herb sauce, seared snapper with grapefruit beurre blanc, a tuna tartare with watermelon and cucumber and a chunky smoked snapper dip to spoon onto grilled ciabatta. Dinner entrees cost between $18 and $23, and lunch has more po-boys ($11-$14).
The seafood gumbo is served with potato salad, a country tradition not seen much in New Orleans. The crawfish bisque is done in an even less familiar style, with the bisque basically drizzled like a sauce over a half-dozen stuffed crawfish heads. Watch for specials like grilled snapper neck and stuffed flounder.
Basin Seafood took over the address formerly occupied by Rocky's Gourmet Pizzeria. It's a casual spot with a small bar and fishing camp decor of animal prints and bamboo screens. A rear patio has views into the boiling room.
The bar serves interesting cocktails (the Yucatan firecracker is made with tequila, grapefruit syrup and pickled jalapenos) and offers a short but smart wine list. Gruner veltliner is a good match for seafood and costs $6 a glass. Basin Seafood serves lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday.