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How's Bayou?: Newly Minted

The sophisticated atmosphere at Dominique's on Magazine

We planned a casual repast, three friends, former colleagues at The Times-Picayune, getting together to ponder the future of online journalism. The most au courant of the group suggested the recently-opened Dominique's on Magazine, the newest incarnation of the talents of chef Dominique Macquet and his wife, Wendy.

The facade and signage are so muted and discreet -- grey on grey -- that one member of our party drove by repeatedly, missing it each time. Guiding her inch by inch along Magazine Street via cell phone, it felt like we were operating a toy helicopter by remote control until, through the broad expanse of window overlooking the street, we watched her car glide slowly into a parking spot nearby.

The minute you enter, you know it's a spot that will be featured in an upscale design magazine soon. Who, you might ask, came up with the idea to create a bas-relief sculpture from old dress patterns, stiffened and modeled with resin, to create a floating pattern of three-dimensional forms on the wall behind the maitre d's desk?

Catie Long -- one of two local artists whose works enlivens the walls of the minimalist interior and patio spaces -- created this evanescent web that immediately catches the eye.

NOCCA art teacher and projection-art guru Courtney Egan, who introduced this art form to New Orleans two decades ago, contributed two works, the first a projection on a patio wall of a huge night-blooming cereus that blossoms before your eyes. Inside, a more elaborate piece projects flickering images of Spanish moss on steel mesh that hangs on metal branches extending from a wall. If you look closely, you can see fireflies darting between the branches.

If this makes you woozy, you might want to step things up a level with one of the restaurant's local fresh fruit infusions displayed on a circular shelf that tops a slender pole in the dining room.

Chef Dominique Macquet's blend of Creole, Asian, African and Indian influences -- he grew up on the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean -- merge with New Orleans traditions like virtual moss on steel mesh to create memorable entrees that challenge those infusions.

But my most lasting impression is of the extraordinary service I received from Sylvia, who responded to my request for flavored tea in a delightful, exceptional manner.

The restaurant, she stated with regret, did not serve flavored teas; but did I like mint?

Moments later she returned with a mini-lab of experimentation: a clear, footed glass of steaming hot water filled with fresh spearmint and tart-lime mint (as an exclamation point) from wall planters in the patio, and a pitcher of "honey from the 'hood" from local celebrity Dr. Brobson Lutz's celebrated hives.

It doesn't get more local or up close and personal than this.

The moment was one of the most memorable dining experiences I can recall, for both flavor and hospitality.

Here, just as at Madewood, it's not enough just to stay ahead of the competition. The best people seem to know instinctively what a guest or diner wants and can effortlessly improvise to meet those unspoken desires.

Such was Sylvia, who showed me the very spot from which my mint was plucked and introduced me to the chef, who rhapsodized about the fragrance of the mint.

It's all about local, Wendy emphasizes: the artwork, the food, the drinks. Dominique's: my newly-minted favorite.

Visit Dominique's at 4213 Magazine Street between Louisiana & Napoleon. 

How's Bayou? the secrets of remaining sane while running an upscale B&B on Bayou Lafourche, is written weekly for NolaVie by Keith Marshall, a former Rhodes Scholar and graduate of Yale and Oxford universities who now runs Madewood Plantation House in Napoleonville.

How’s Bayou? the secrets of remaining sane while running an upscale B&B on Bayou Lafourche, is written weekly for NolaVie by Keith Marshall, a former Rhodes Scholar and graduate of Yale and Oxford universities who now runs Madewood Plantation House in Napoleonville.