Chocoholics and others with an insatiable sweet tooth are flocking to Sucre, nestled among Magazine Street’s toniest shops.
By Deborah Burst - photography by C. Ross
Strolling down the bohemian row of boutiques and antique shops on Magazine Street, few can resist the minty glow inside a sweet boutique called Sucré. A pageant of pastels line the shelves with gumball-colored gelato and disco-sparkled pastries. It’s like falling down the rabbit hole into a cozy lair of chocolate-covered walls and cloud-shaped lighting. Sharing sinful chocolates with Executive Pastry Chef Tariq Hanna, Beatles tunes kept ringing in my head: “Tangerine trees and marmalade skies…rocking horse people eat marshmallow pies.”
The Parisian/Madison Avenue flavor bodes well in uptown’s Garden District. Streams of patrons add a diverse mix: tattooed artisans spying the pastry case, college coeds glued to jewel-toned phones sipping café glacé, and a pig-tailed ingénue with patent leather shoes skipping her way to the gelato case. It’s all about leaving the dark side of “wall street bailouts” to a “candy castle” filled with feather-light marshmallows and French Macaroon trees. Think light almond meringues sandwiched with luscious creams in signature colors, vanilla, orange, lemon, currant, and pistachio.
Reminiscent of a Broadway chorus line, rows of brightly colored pastries take center stage under the bright lights. Curls and swirls dressed with succulent fruit wrapped in ladyfingers and topped with chocolate pâté à bombe. And for those who love tripping with the Venezuelan cocoa bean, the star of the show, the Xocolat Sucré, layers of chocolate cake, cream, and mousse crowned with a spritz of chocolate spray.
“If you can dream it, we can make it,” says Tariq referencing his creative nature, flipping through his iPhone photo page for examples of past inspirations. “I see something in a shop or gallery, love the colors, design, and piping.”
In April 2007, Joel Dondis, Sucré founder, business partner, and key player in the New Orleans hospitality and restaurant scene, recruited Tariq, a Nigerian native who grew up surrounded by the aroma of roasting cocoa beans from the nearby national cocoa processing plant. Together they have built what Tariq calls a “fountain of youth” for a city that could use an escape from reality. Childhood dreams come alive in a life-size game of Candyland prepared by the talented kitchen staff of five chefs.
“Constant collaborations that sometimes resemble children formulating a new game to play,” says Tariq on his web blog referencing the work he and his staff perform on a daily basis. “How can one not be thrown back to childhood when constantly surrounded by such delight?”
Riding the wave of 50’s style lunch/ice cream parlors mixed with the success of chic coffee shops, the dynamic duo have done more than just satisfy the sweet tooth of deprived chocoholics. They added a savory lunch menu, champagne and dessert liqueurs, and a full complement of coffee, tea, shakes, and sundaes. Toast the day’s shopping spree with a glass of bubbly and a Detroit Bumpy Cake or dive into a NOLA Sundae, bread pudding topped with butter pecan gelato drizzled with bananas Foster sauce.
Although Sucré offers the usual party packages such as birthdays, tea parties, and wedding showers, there’s always room for après dinner/dates or the gluttonous he/she done-me-wrong get together. Imagine a group of ladies in stiletto heels swooning with every spoonful of Sucré’s Exotique, a tropical pastry splashed with coconut, banana marmalade, and passion fruit gelée.
“Sometimes it can be a little disturbing…and arousing at the same time,” laughs Tariq referring to the moans and groans. “Everything from kid’s birthday parties with 20 ten-year-olds bouncing off the walls, to complete buyouts for lady’s wedding showers.”
The ganaches complement the sweet with the savory pairing international cocoa beans with herbs, tea blends, and even sea salts in chocolates that hold similar flavor profiles. “We don’t over think what we do,” he says. “I have some really good talent in my kitchen; most of the talent in the city is in my kitchen.”
Besides the obvious benefits of visiting a sweet shop, the prices are even more delectable, most below a fine dining menu. The Petite Entremets presents a plated creation of pastries paired by the chef’s selection of ice cream or sorbet artistically decorated with sauce and garnishes. And of course like everything else that’s wickedly entertaining, moderation is the key. Or just follow Tariq’s motto, “Everything in moderation as long as you moderate frequently.”
Sucré, 3025 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70115, Tel. 504.520.8311, Fax. 504.520.8312, email@example.com
Photo: Chef Tariq Hanna peers through two towering macaroon trees atop tiered cake pedestals.
Sushi at Sunset
Picked by Courtney Austin
Sizzling food, hot drinks, spectacular views, and a hip atmosphere – all of this and more can be found at Tsunami Sushi. Atop Baton Rouge’s Shaw Center for the Arts, this swanky restaurant is the hottest spot for sushi at sunset – or any time for that matter. Seating is available outside offering sweeping views of the city, around the eventful sushi bar, and throughout the posh dining room. The only thing that beats the views is the food.
Using the freshest ingredients, Tsunami chefs create unique sushi that guests can’t get enough of. Baton Rouge’s prime sushi bar proves that almost anything can be used in sushi with famous rolls like the Green Monster, which combines coconut shrimp, cream cheese, kiwi, and strawberries. With tasty appetizers like Eggplant Miso, diners won’t go hungry. Whether sushi is the main course or just an added bonus to a delectable meal, this is the place to get it!
Tsunami is also a great place to meet for drinks, offering a bar stocked with everything for your favorite cocktail. The balcony, overlooking the stunning cityscape, is always full of martini-sipping up-and-comers.
As the sun sets over buzzing Baton Rouge, this is the one place you absolutely must be. Don’t forget the fresh ginger!