Chef Sue Zemanick opened Zasu Restaurant in Mid City New Orleans on New Year’s Eve. I knew the moment I read about it that I wanted to dine there on our next trip to New Orleans.
Luckily, I only had to wait a few months to take a taste of her New Orleans food. And it was love at first bite! After years of working for other people, Chef Sue finally has a place to call home. The smallish restaurant is warm and welcoming. Steve and I immediately felt like we were in a place that mostly locals go. Yes. It is a bit off the beaten path. Meaning that it’s in Mid City as opposed to being in the French Quarter. But to us that is a plus. For the most part The Quarter is bawdy, crowded, touristy and dirty. Of course there are many great restaurants in The Quarter, like Restaurant R’evolution, where we celebrated our 50th Anniversary, but we seem to gravitate more to less hyped establishments.
I have been following Susan Zemanick’s career for a few years now. I first noticed her when she was named one of Food and Wine’s Top 10 New Chefs for 2008. Steve and I watched her compete on Top Chef Masters and as a judge on Top Chef New Orleans. And we were happy for her when she won the James Beard Award for Best Chef South in 2013! Cooking is her true passion and it really shows in her food.
In true Traveling Locavores fashion we ordered only appetizers and dessert. We began with a big bowl of Broccoli Cheese Soup which was cheesy and full of fresh broccoli that still had enough bite to it that it required chewing. I really adore soups that you can chew and this fit the bill. What was also pretty cool was that Chef Sue came out of the kitchen to say hello and wish us a Happy Anniversary. Then went back to finish service but promised to be back visiting with us before we left.
Next up was our cold course. We had the Citrus Poached Shrimp with hearts of palm, radishes, grapefruit segments, and arugula anointed with a nutty brown butter vinaigrette. We loved how the tartness of the grapefruit played against the sweet shrimp. Along with that we had the Beef Carpaccio which was strewn with pickled celery, blue cheese crumbles and a spicy aioli along with slices of grilled bread. The beef was tender and well seasoned and fun to eat atop those toasty baguette slices.
For our third course – the hot dishes, we chose the Fried Veal Short Ribs. The amazing Korean glazed short ribs were fried which made them tender on the inside with a really nice outer crust. The short ribs sat atop some yummy scallion-egg fried rice which enhanced the Asian flavors of the Veal. And for our last savory dish we ordered the Artichoke and Goat Cheese Agnolotti with crispy sunchokes garnished with preserved lemon and chives. It may have been the first time we tasted sunchokes, but I can assure you it won’t be the last. Being fried gave the sunchokes a wonderful contrast of texture to the tender pasta.
Last, but certainly not least, was dessert. The real advantage of eating only small plates is that we often have room for two desserts to share. I have to be honest. We really did not have room we just couldn’t decide between two temptations so we just ordered both. And were we ever glad we did. We had the Chocolate Cake with Port-fig ice cream that was sitting in a pool of luscious caramel sauce AND we had the Passion Fruit Crème Brûlée garnished with candied ginger, Thai Basil and a coconut shortbread. Both desserts were beyond yummy as you can see in the photo below.
As she had promised, Chef Sue came out of the kitchen to chat with us before we left. She is such a delightful and warm person that we became instant friends. She even made me promise to keep in touch. I have. And I will continue to do so. In fact Zasu has become one of our new favorite New Orleans restaurants. One of those on our list of must return to often!