New Star at the Bar
Since Trynd is a made-up word, lurching toward trend, but with that yo-yo of a Y dragging it in some other direction, I’m right now going to create a new coinage for it. For me, Trynd now means transformation, which is the long and painful process restaurateur Nidal Balbeisi is going through, trying to get his million dollar restaurant and bar ready to launch by the new year.
Two men and a burger
Burgersmith is moooooving — more accurately expanding — its handcrafted USDA prime beef burgers with all the fixings to a new location in Baton Rouge. The company’s prototype restaurant, which opened on Camellia Boulevard in River Ranch about a year ago, was so well received by Acadiana that owners Denny Hensgens and Russ Umbricht were encouraged to branch out.
The Acadiana Center for the Arts and French Press team up for a new eats venue downtown.
With the upcoming grand opening celebration of the Acadiana Center for the Arts set for Nov. 4-13, more good news bubbles up from the AcA. Along with contemporary music, the spoken word, opera, visual and performing arts, the AcA will be offering aspects of the culinary arts as well. Like lunch.
The AcA is teaming up with downtown restaurant French Press to create a museum café within the walls of the new art center. A food venue has always been part of the long-range vision, a decade in the works, which comes to fruition this fall.
The café will be located in the glassed-in area along Vermilion Street, with additional outdoor seating on the street. “It’s really front and center,” says AcA Executive Director Gerd Wuestemann. “Which integrates us with the street and breaks down some barriers folks might have about coming into an art space. It’s a wonderful public space that people enter.”
There will be WiFi in the lobby area and comfortable furniture, inviting diners to stay and surf. “We’re looking for the business community to come in and have a little breakfast or lunch, and the arts community to do the same, and build some connections there,” says Wuestemann.
The French Press will lease the space from the AcA, staffing and operating the café. Cappuccino, espresso, lattes and café au lait along with pastries will be served in the morning. Soups, salad and sandwiches and light fare are offered at lunch. The café will be open during all evening events with a full bar, cocktail and wine menu, and elegant nibbles for pre and post theater. Ideas down the road include “Thirsty Thursdays,” a happy hour with music, as soon as the AcA receives its liquor license. “It’s a great way for the community to gather, exchange ideas, see some art and stay for a performance,” says Wuestemann.
Saturday or Sunday afternoons hold the potential for zydeco brunch, with a bandstand and dance floor in the new theatre.
“We don’t have a name yet,” says Wuestemann. “I’m just calling it the AcA Café right now. That has a nice ring.” — Mary Tutwiler
Ice cream sales have scooped Kleinpeter Dairy into the top 100 dairy processors nationally.
Kleinpeter Dairy has been around since 1913, selling superior milk to the residents of Baton Rouge. Over time, the dairy and farm expanded, reaching out to adjacent communities with butter and cream. However, it took 95 years, until 2008, for fourth-generation President Jeff Kleinpeter to imagine churning his milk with Louisiana cane sugar and Pontchatoula strawberries into ice cream. Overnight, the little dairy in Baton Rouge made a giant leap onto what it hopes will become a national stage.
“Ice cream drives sales,” says Kleinpeter. The company went from $33 million in sales in 2007 to $39 million today, and has just been listed in the nation’s top 100 dairy processors. The ranking is according to finished dairy product sales for the most recently completed fiscal year. That’s remarkable for a local business that sells almost entirely in Louisiana, with just a few retail locations in southern Mississippi.
That’s the business end of this story, but the most exciting news for foodies is the five new flavors Kleinpeter just added to its line: Homemade Honey Pecan Vanilla, Homemade Bread Pudding, Ginger Snap, French Vanilla and Vanilla Bean join Cafe au Lait, Sweet Potato Pie and Bananas Foster in a roster of traditional Louisiana flavors. For locovores, the news is even better, because Kleinpeter sources all of its ingredients as close to home as it can get.
The Honey Pecan Vanilla uses local honey and pecans from Bergeron’s orchards in New Roads. Abbeville’s Steen’s Syrup mill is the source for the molasses in the ginger cookies swirled into Ginger Snap ice cream. Those cookies are baked at Edible Enterprises, a kitchen incubator based in Norco, as is the bread pudding in the Homemade Bread Pudding ice cream.
Kleinpeter is as proud of collaborating with Louisiana’s workforce as he is of the local flavors in his ice cream. “We help the economy by adding innovative new flavors made with fresh ingredients and using local people to make those ingredients. What could be better?” Kleinpeter says. — Mary Tutwiler
Deconstruct a sushi roll and what do you get? Sutakku, a small stack of rice on the bottom, a flourish of cucumber, fish, crunchies and smelt roe in a small tower on top. That’s the new gorgeous presentation of our addiction to raw fish and rice, at the downtown Bonsai, on Jefferson Street.
If I have one complaint about sushi rolls, it’s that you have too much, with eight pieces, of the same thing. I’m an eater who loves variety, and the sutakku at Bonsai shaves a roll down to four bites, with an equally diminished price. That means diners can explore more combinations for the same down payment.
There’s also a handful of new dishes at Bonsai that range from really rare beef to a fish tartar nacho, if you don’t mind mixing food metaphors. The new menu is dubbed Tapas, another rambla into foodie Esperanza. What this means is everything comes on the same size square plate, four bites mostly, and the highest price for any one plate is $7.
Bonsai has also re-opened for lunch Monday-Friday, and dinner Monday-Saturday. Call 232-8333 or check out its website,
— Mary Tutwiler
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