Red Stick Restaurant Review
REDSTICK RESTAURANT REVIEW: MAISON LACOUR
LSU Faculty Senate Newsletter
BY CARL FREEDMAN
Ever since it opened in 1986, Maison Lacour has been my favorite restaurant in Baton Rouge—and one of my favorites in the world. The creation of Jacqueline and John Gréaud (as chef and maître d’, respectively), the restaurant is now run by the Gréauds’ daughter Eva, who serves as hostess, and her husband Chef Michael Jetty, who began cooking under Chef Jacqueline in 1991. Maison Lacour continues to offer excellent food in an atmosphere of quiet charm and family warmth.
The cooking is mainly French, with some emphasis on nouvelle cuisine, so that those intent on healthy eating can easily avoid undue worry about their arteries; there’s even a generous selection of vegetarian dishes. The influence of the Cajun and Creole culinary traditions of southern Louisiana is unsurprisingly in evidence, though more in ingredients (e.g., shrimp and crawfish) than in preparation. Carnivorous diners can choose among beef, veal, lamb, game, pork, chicken, fish, and shellfish; and, in decades of occasional dining at Maison Lacour, I have never found it possible to make a mistake with the menu.
But there are a few starters and main dishes that might be singled out for special mention. The “saumon fumé” (smoked salmon in a spicy cream sauce) is an ideal appetizer, and the “soupe Jacqueline” (made with brie, crab, and asparagus) is quite simply the best soup of any kind that I have ever tasted. The “canard du chef” (broiled duck with raspberry sauce) is probably the main dish I’ve ordered more often than any other, and seems to me exactly what duck ought to be. Steak lovers cannot do better than “John’s favorite,” a grilled beef filet with béarnaise sauce that’s garnished with crabmeat in a pastry shell (with hollandaise sauce) and with shrimp in a butter sauce.
Food of this caliber goes best with good wine, and the wine list at Maison Lacour, though not particularly extensive, is intelligently chosen (a 2008 French sauvignon blanc—“Les Fumées Blanches”—is one notable bargain).
The dessert menu deserves a review of its own: suffice it to say that the soufflés merit their considerable local reputation, and that chocolate does not get much better than the chocolate mousse here.
Atmosphere and service are nearly as important in judging a restaurant as the food itself, and here too Maison Lacour is outstanding. Instead of the one immense, loud dining room that many restaurants offer, here you find five quiet, cozy, tastefully decorated rooms that almost give the feeling of dining in an elegant private home (which the building, I believe, once was).
The servers are friendly, knowledgeable, and attentive without being intrusive; their timing is usually perfect--neither so fast that you feel rushed nor so slow that you get impatient. And what does a meal here cost? Less than you might think--and less than at a number of other local restaurants that feature more pretension and noise with inferior food and service. The main dishes on the dinner menu are about $30 each, with only one or two significantly higher and several (mainly seafood) a bit lower. The budget-conscious might try the package for “early diners”: a complete four-course meal for $27.95, served between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. The options are more limited than on the main menu, but otherwise all is just the same.
Maison Lacour is located at 11025 North Harrell’s Ferry Road in Baton Rouge; phone: 225-275-3755. Reservations are recommended but not required.
"Maison Lacour continues to offer excellent food in an atmosphere of quiet charm and family warmth."