Nearly a year after Asheville restaurateur Michel Baudouin announced plans to open his third eatery along with an event venue on Lexington Avenue, Cajun/Creole restaurant Lafayette is set to debut. When it opens this evening, Lafayette will be part of what Baudouin has dubbed the Asheville French Quarter — a group of adjacent restaurants that includes Bouchon and Creperie Bouchon, as well as his planned venue, RendezVous.
Lafayette’s executive chef, Tres Hundertmark, who returned to Asheville last year from New Orleans to be a part of the project, has crafted a menu of Louisiana favorites. Classics such as jambalaya, crawfish étouffée, red beans and rice and three kinds of gumbo share the menu with more exotic offerings such as turtle soup, alligator sauce piquant, fried boudin balls (pork and rice sausages rolled in breadcrumbs and fried) and chaudin (stuffed pig’s stomach). The restaurant also features an oyster bar offering six varieties of oysters from the Gulf of Mexico, East Coast and West Coast.
During a soft opening last week, staff members were busy working out the kinks with the menu and service, and the space seemed to still be coming together, lacking finishing touches like covers for the light switches. But Hundertmark says everything is ready to go for opening night, Monday, May 11.
“I am very pleased with our progress on this project. We have put together a great team and are in very good position for our opening day on Monday,” he says.
“The dry runs were interesting to see what folks were ordering,” he continues. “I was very happy that the boucherie platter, which has chaudin, our house-made chaurice, boudin balls, gratons, dirty rice and smothered cabbage [was popular]. The boudin balls were also very popular.”
Baudouin had hoped to open Lafayette months earlier, but renovation issues with the old buildings he originally planned to use behind Bouchon caused him to relocate Lafayette to 68 N. Lexington Ave., the space previously inhabited by The Local Taco.
“The complicated infrastructure issues in the reconstruction of Bouchon’s back building have resulted in unforeseen delays. Updating and restoring the structure with attention to saving as much of the original as possible has proved to be quite challenging, especially considering the impact it has had on Bouchon’s operations,” Baudouin stated in an April press release.
Lafayette will be open evenings only to start with. Hours will be 5 p.m.- midnight Sunday-Thursday and 5 p.m.-1 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Lunch service will begin at 11 a.m. starting Monday, May 18. Lafayette will open for brunch at 10 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays once lunch service has been in place for a couple of weeks, says Hundertmark.