To LaRue…to let the Chef Surprise Us
The November installment of our triadfoodies Chef’s Table, where we let the chef surprise us, had us back in Greensboro once again. This time, at LaRue Elm, a multi-cuisine restaurant that leans a bit French at 403 North Elm Street downtown.
LaRue used to be a few blocks south on Green Street across from the Carolina Theatre. It had a speakeasy type vibe offering French inspired small plates and Chef Trey Bell and his team did everything …all of it…. right in front of you in basically what is not a kitchen at all. Think hot plates and infrared. And it was really, really cool to eat there. But when you’re a chef with an actual culinary staff, sometimes you need an actual kitchen. So about a year and a half in, when the building that used to house Ganache and Blu Margarita came available, Bell swooped in and got it. And this past August, he tripled his capacity at least. It looks as if the entirety of his old digs could fit into his new kitchen. And you can still see the team cooking, only now it’s behind the glass in the deco-inspired building.
When I say we let the chef surprise us, I really mean it. I don’t know what’s going to be served. I like to be surprised with the rest of you. Sometimes it’s a new menu and sometimes the chef is trying out new creations. In our case, we got to try a few new things that Chef Bell was working on and hoping to introduce on an upcoming menu. Guinea pigs? Maybe. But that’s what makes it fun.
We arrived about a half hour early so we could enjoy drinks and we love it when some of our fellow supper-goers do the same. It’s a great way to get the party started. As we made our way to our tables come dinnertime, Bell placed on the bar and the tables his first course.
Salt & Pepper Pork Rinds
They were salty and peppery and warm from the fryer. They were really big and really crispy. And I don’t know if you’re like me, but I could eat a pile of them. They could be my meal, but Chef Bell wasn’t about to let that happen.
Chef Bell addressed the group of us early on and told his that he hadn’t seen frog legs so succulent and meaty and he was happy to let us try them. Frog legs most assuredly aren’t on most menus in the Triad. But Bell is adventurous enough to give it a try. We had some food restrictions among us that evening and when you can’t eat beef or pork but you can eat chicken and fish, we just figured amphibian is close enough. Bell even used a different breading for the couple of folks who needed theirs to be gluten-free. The frog legs were definitely juicy and meaty. I won’t say it tastes like chicken…except it does. Highly recommend if you find it on the menu in the coming weeks.
Third Course/Fourth Course
Pan Seared NC Duck Breast atop Beluga Lentils
Spiny Lobster Tail
This course was like a two for one. It featured a pan seared duck breast atop Beluga Lentils. The duck was quite simply prepared to let the lentils shine. Beluga lentils look like beluga caviar. They are jet black. These were packed with flavor. One of our foodie friends, Ericca, told us they were the best lentils she’d ever had.
The spiny lobster came out with the duck breast. What can we say? It was lobster tail. As lobster tails go, it did the trick. If there was anything missing there, it would’ve been some drawn butter. Because, lobster.
I am looking forward to going back to LaRue Elm on another night and trying another sampling of small plates. If the frog leg is on the menu, it won’t hurt my feelings one bit. One thing for sure is that if you have a large group or party, the new LaRue can certainly accommodate you. There’s plenty of dining room space, a large bar and room for live music. There’s an upstairs too.
Chef Bell says they’ve been enjoying their new address and that the upcoming Greensboro Performing Arts Center will help with an increase in business, which is one of the reasons they decided to move in the first place. Previously he’d told YES! Weekly that the increased size in his kitchen would allow him to offer larger plates and entrees rather than keeping things tapas sized. However, small plates are what they are known for at LaRue and it appears that they are here to stay. Which suits us just fine. And the restaurant continues to source local ingredients and strives to use those ingredients in new and inventive ways.
And to be sure, the cocktail menu at LaRue is second to none. You’re sure to find an inventive cocktail to suit your taste buds, with exotic and sometimes sexy names to boot.
The next time we let the chef surprise us will be on Wednesday, December 14 at The Traveled Farmer in Greensboro. Join us at 7:30 p.m. as we let Chef Jay Pierce surprise us. We’re even shopping at the market beforehand to buy our gifts for a Secret Santa exchange to celebrate this joyous season. Follow the details and RSVP on the triadfoodies Facebook page.
Wanna go? LaRue Elm is located at 403 North Elm Street, Greensboro. larueelm.com