Capdeville seems like the sort of place that should spend daytime hours in dark, boozy slumber before shaking it off and coming alive at night. Lighting is seductively dim and a rock music theme carries through the room. Framed LPs and displays of bourbon bottles decorate the walls, and the servers wear vintage concert T-shirts.
While rockers are classically nocturnal, Capdeville seems most lively during weekday lunches. That's when young professionals from nearby offices pack the place for upscale burgers and creative comfort food. "Back in Black" might grind from the jukebox, and some diners may sample the bar's respectable draft selection and cocktail list, but at lunchtime, more patrons quaff Barq's than bourbon.
Lifestyle Revolution Group, the company that runs the nightspots Republic New Orleans, loa and LePhare, opened Capdeville around Carnival time this year inside the Intellectual Property building, a former law office recast as a hub for start-up firms. It's not hard to find once you start looking, but since it's on an obscure, single-block street flanking the federal courthouse, you're not likely to stumble upon it. As word has gotten around, a solid lunch crowd has developed, and others come for after-work snacks before the dinner hour.
Chef Marcus Woodham also works as a sous chef Uptown at Patois, so mostly he's on duty at Capdeville during the day. But the food remains consistent from lunch through late-night service, and his menu is filled with interesting twists and creative renditions of casual food. One delicious example is the fried red beans and rice appetizer. Roped with pickled pork and rolled into balls, it's like savory calas, the traditional Creole rice fritters. The cool and satisfying vichyssoise has a rich strain of blue cheese, and the tomato soup is finished with a green dollop of garlicky pistou.
Burgers and fries form the bulk of the menu, and these too are offbeat. Fries are hand-cut and very good on their own, but Capdeville also prepares them as poutine, a style of gravy cheese fries popular in Quebec where the term is slang for mess. Capdeville's laudable "mess" has a rich sauce au poivre and springy mozzarella curd. Burgers show impressive character with thick, crumble-textured patties and chewy onion rolls. The duck confit club on brioche with duck crackling replacing the bacon is another successful innovation.
Not every twist works so well. Fried oyster mushrooms are lost in greasy fish-and-chip-style batter; a lighter fry would be much more appealing. I liked the pulled-pork cakes entree, but the small pork mounds are set adrift in a pool of under-seasoned grits so creamy and loose they might qualify as a dairy product.
My favorite entree was a much more modest plate of broiled chicken strips wrapped tightly in crisped prosciutto and arranged over vegetables seasoned with fresh sage. At $13, the dish is typical of Capdeville's value. You can assemble moderately priced meals here or just order some hearty snacks and rock out at the bar.