The Riverbend side project for Boucherie does a few things, but does them well.
When Todd Price reviewed Bourrée for Nola.com, the response on the site and Facebook were predictable. Bourrée makes chicken wings, daiquiris, and cracklins, and the menu’s more limited than that might suggest. Bourrée only offers three flavors of wings instead of the lengthy list of options at other wing joints, and it sells three daiquiris that are individually crafted instead of churned in a wall’s worth of dispensers.
“Yet another place that takes cheap food and drinks....yuppifies it and charges double,” one commenter cynically wrote.
If “yuppifies” translates to “give the wings distinctive flavors and make daiquiris that are something other than boozy slushies,” then the commenter is right. Except for the price—Bourrée’s wings are more expensive than Buffalo Wild Wings, but not significantly so.
The kimchi and lemongrass wings were more intimidating on the menu than in reality. A lot of pickled flavors fall under the kimchi umbrella, some of which are muskier than others. A hint of pickling enlivened these otherwise sweet, fruity wings.
The first time I tried Bourrée, the clear winners were the Buffalo wings, where citrus gave dimension to the vinegary bite of hot sauce-flavored wings. On this visit, the lime, lemon and orange juices were missing, which left the sauce one dimensional.
This time, the mango barbecue sauce typified what was best about Bourrée. Again, the sauce had some complexity, and it enhanced the chicken instead of masking it. It helped that the chicken parts were flavorful on their own, and because it is a new project for Boucherie—for now housed at 8115 Jeannette St. in the building that until recently was home to its parent restaurant—the emphasis is on food.
The daiquiris are similarly refreshing. The G&TD presents a frozen gin and tonic, and the bartenders don’t cheat it closer to the sweetness and muscular booziness we associate with French Quarter daiquiris. Instead, they preserve the slight astringency that makes gin and tonics refreshing. More conventional is Barbara’s Downfall, which is a rum-based drink in the sour family with pineapple, lime and a slight herbal quality that comes from a thyme simple syrup. It is closer to a classic daiquiri, and is also great on a summer afternoon.
At the moment, the weakness in Bourrée's game is the hermit crab-like way that it seems to have settled into the Boucherie space with little effort to individualize the room. It feels provisional, with only sheets of white paper to help sop up sauce marks on top of tablecloths as a concession to what the restaurant is now. Otherwise the room is a brown, beige and dark and as amospheric as a house on the market.
Many joints market wings as yet another expression of machismo, but Bourrée only spikes the heat if specifically asked, and even then, none but the most delicate palates are tested. They don’t separate the men from the boys, nor will they win anybody bar bets. Instead, like so many of the “yuppified cheap food” restaurants, pop-ups and food trucks, Bourrée suggests that cheap food doesn’t have to taste cheap, and commonplace foods don’t have to be common.