The Bakery Bar in the Lower Garden District has a new chef, Lydia Solano, who was previously at the helm of Bacchanal’s kitchen. Chef Lydia will be introducing a new menu and, and the Bakery Bar will host a daily brunch.
Growing up, Solano split her time between the United States and Costa Rica. After graduating from culinary school in Boston, she hitchhiked across the country, dropping into kitchens and learning skills on the job.
“I worked everywhere from smokehouses to Japanese sushi spots,” she said. “I learned a broad aspect of cooking by stopping into different places and working where I could.”
Eight years ago, when she first visited New Orleans and began regularly spending time here, she started introducing Creole flavors into her cooking. Her menu at Bakery Bar reflects CreoleB and Latin influences.
“I grew up with Latin cuisine, so that’s what I’m comfortable with,” she said, “but I fell in love with New Orleans French-style cooking; I wanted to combine those two flavors.”
Chef Lydia describes the Bakery Bar’s brunch menu as a balance of traditional brunch favorites and dishes that are less on the conventional side.
One dish she’s especially proud of is Oxtail Benedict, in which oxtail is sous vide in mirepoix and red wine for 24 hours, then mixed with a roux and fashioned into a croquette.
On the sweeter side, is French Toast made with apple chunks, caramel apple drizzle, custard cream and toasted pecans, topped with a blackberry compote and plantain custard.
For those who want to keep it vegan and gluten-free, the menu offers Chia Seed Pudding made with rice milk and rice pudding made in-house, topped with custard cardamom strudel and orange supreme.
The Bakery Bar is also revamping its dinner menu, a move that Chef Lydia said was made to coordinate with the brunch menu. “The dinner menu leans more on the side of French fusion but offers a more extensive selection of dishes,” she said.
Chef Lydia’s favorites include Hibiscus Fried Pickles made with confit garlic and housemade chamoy; and Blackened Tilapia served with squash, zucchini salad and fried green plantains called patacones.
“The tilapia comes fresh from Ecuador, and I haven’t been able to find a cleaner or fresher fish anywhere else in the city, so far,” she said.
Another interesting addition is Bone Marrow smoked in-house with fermented black garlic butter in chimichurri and served with micro greens, confit garlic, pickled onion, lime wedge and patacones.
Other menu highlights include her take on Buffalo Wings — a chicken confit that’s fried, tossed in bourbon buffalo sauce and served with buttermilk ranch — and Moules Mariniere, Prince Edward Island mussels steamed with banana leaves and candied oranges in a white wine cream sauce.
A selection of salads and restaurant favorites, the Bakery Bar burger, made with four kinds of cheese, candied bacon, tomato, mixed greens, chef’s pickled onions, garlic confit aioli; and Dumpster Fries, made with Urban South Oktoberfest beer cheese, pork debris, grilled onions, round out the dinner menu.
Chef Lydia will offer Bone Marrow Broth Gumbo and Central American Tamales for the holidays and has a few other menu items still in the works.
Chef Lydia knows that her menu is a change for the Bakery Bar but hopes that customers will appreciate her interpretation of what brunch and dinner can be.
“My goal is to create beautiful dishes that will create a balance between comfort, beauty and sustainability,” she said. “I like to express myself through food with the local flair and I think that’s reflected in what we’re doing here.”
The Bakery Bar still serves as the home base for Debbie Does Doberge, where customers can get pieces of the multi-layered cake by the slice.
The restaurant is also known for its unique cocktails, such as the Glima invented by staff member Jessie. It’s made with gin, OP Anderson aquavit, pear nectar, cane sugar vinegar, Fever Tree premium tonic water, and pear and. Another is Foolish Games invented by staff member Joe and made with Sazerac rye, apple juice, Allspice Dram, chai cardamom, lemon, bitters and.
Hours: The Bakery Bar is open Tuesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Brunch is served 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; dinner is served 4 to 10 p.m.