Chef Nina’s ‘Compere Lapin’ is New Orleans’ Restaurant of the Year

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Chef Nina’s ‘Compere Lapin’ is New Orleans’ Restaurant of the Year
Chef Nina Compton at Compere Lapin in New Orleans on Thursday, December 1, 2016. (Photo by Brett Duke, Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)
Chef Nina Compton at Compere Lapin in New Orleans on Thursday, December 1, 2016. (Photo by Brett Duke, Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)
Chef Nina Compton at Compere Lapin in New Orleans on Thursday, December 1, 2016. (Photo by Brett Duke, Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)

NOLA.COM – In 2016, the New Orleans Restaurant of the Year is Compere Lapin. Why?

Because chef-owner Nina Compton’s big idea — to marry the cooking of her native St. Lucia with that of her adopted New Orleans home — is a delicious case study in the hard art of belonging. Because she translates that big idea to the plate with finely tuned, you-can’t-do-this-at-home skills.

Because while the balance of Caribbean-New Orleans influences vary from dish to dish (carrots amandine on one hand, conch croquettes on the other), the impression one is left with after several meals is that the private and public forces that give rise to this food are getting equal attention. Because that in itself is an interesting exercise in compromise.

Because the fruits of all this are things like dirty rice arancini, hamachi-pickled mango crudo and marinated shrimp enveloped in cool roasted jalapeno jus. Because the raw bar and cocktail bar are well-integrated into the restaurant but also worth visiting themselves.

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