Chef/co-owner of Meauxbar BistroLocated in the French Quarter on North Rampart and St. Philip streets, Meauxbar Bistro has a devoted following. Being open for dinner only Tuesday through Saturday keeps the owners, James Conte and Matthew Guidry, sane and their patrons salivating in anticipation of their next repast at their favorite eatery.
Chef and co-owner Matt Guidry runs the back of the house, while partner Jim Conte runs the front. And what a team they make. Their approachability, integrity with food and service, and ability to make one feel welcome is laudable. French, Louisiana regional and colonial Indochine dishes are inspired by travels abroad. Guidry’s creations immediately force the diner to lean back in his or her wooden chair, breathe in slowly and start over so as not to miss out on anything. ??After graduating from LSU, Guidry got his formal training in New York City at the famed French Culinary Institute, in one of the first graduating classes in the mid-eighties. He then spent 25 years in the restaurant business, including being a chef/owner in the Hamptons on Long Island.
Why New Orleans for the restaurant?
I’m from here. I went to LSU and then lived in New York. We had a restaurant up there, but I always knew that I would come back.
How did you decide on this location?
I live two blocks from here and for what we wanted to achieve, a neighborhood restaurant, this was perfect. It used to be a drinks store with take-out Chinese food and Plexiglas everywhere. It was a total gut job. We have dry storage and an office upstairs.
What’s your most time-consuming dish to prepare?
The veal stock takes five to six hours to cook, plus the braising, and so does the French onion soup. The boudin is homemade, too, so preparing that and then putting it in its casing is time-consuming.
How do you unwind after a long day?
I go home and sleep. That’s because I run in the morning. The running gets the stress to go away. I ran five miles this morning, although I wish it had been eight.
Favorite Sunday meal that goes well with the Saints?
Barbecue ribs. Everybody loves pork
Favorite New Orleans band and/or musician?
The perfect fish?
I like halibut a lot. Locally I use a lot of drum; it’s moist and flaky.
The perfect meat?
I have been doing a lot of charcuterie. I love rabbit terrines.
How do you choose which servers to hire?
We’re not corporate, so we have to find people who are going to fit in. They have to be liked by the others and the customers. This is my family.
Where did you go on your last vacation, and what was your favorite meal there?
I was in Brittany, France, last week. I had an amazing lobster-and-cream sauce served in a copper crock. It was worth the five-hour wait for the table.
Craziest thing seen in a restaurant kitchen?
During the height of service one night, my dishwasher had a seizure. It was remarkable watching the paramedics carry this 300-pound man out of the kitchen during dinner.
Anthony Bourdain or Andrew Zimmern?
Bourdain. He and Eric Ripert ate in my restaurant in New York.
We average 50 dinners a night, and you can eat at the bar. We love our loyal local customers. We are very customer-driven, and I always try to evolve my menu.
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