Brian Chilson

Cache reopened last Friday, more than two months after the restaurant was forced to close when some routine maintenance work revealed busted pipes underneath the concrete floor of the main dining room. During that unexpected closure, Cache owner Rush Harding worked with interior designer Garry Mertins to create The Bayou, an exclusive VIP Lounge that can only be accessed on the first floor of the westernmost side of the restaurant behind a speakeasy-style secret door-size wall painting that slides to open.

Brian Chilson
The Bayou is located behind this painting.
Brian Chilson
The Bayou

The space used to house The Freckled Frog boutique store, which closed during the pandemic. The room itself is small, about 500 square feet, Mertins said, but it pops with a modern upscale design: dark blue walls, black and blue checkered tile, sleek modern lighting and disco-style lights.

Advertisement

Adjacent to the lounge is the Wine Room Chef’s Table, the intimate space is lined with shelves of wine bottles and a few refrigerators that match the blue walls and look more like elegant storage closets. One of those — kind of keeping with the secret passageway theme — opens up to reveal a narrow staircase that leads to the DJ booth above. There’s a fancy modern powder room/bathroom in the back so guests don’t have to go back through the restaurant to make use of facilities.

Brian Chilson
The Wine Room Chef’s Table.

We got a first look at the Bayou on Cache’s reopening night, and got to sample its exclusive menu of cocktails and small shared plates.

Advertisement

Eponymous cocktail The Bayou is a rum-based cocktail with fresh pineapple, orange and lime juices, 151 and Stiggins’ Fancy Pineapple Rum. Served in fishbowl-style glass, it has a forest green hue and a nice foam layer on top, garnished with mint sprigs and a lovely flower made from an orange peel. I was told to be careful with this cocktail and to not drink it all by myself. It has a really nice floral flavor and a refreshing aftertaste. For such a strong cocktail it’s dangerously drinkable, which is why it’s served with two straws.

Brian Chilson
SHARABLE: Don’t drink The Bayou cocktail alone.

The bartenders at Cache have their fingers on the pulse with the Campfire cocktail, a Negroni with Prosecco on top that will be served over dry ice and garnished with a burning cinnamon stick. A similar cocktail — the Negroni Sbagliato — is all the rage right now thanks to a viral TikTok video of Olivia Cooke and Emma D’Arcy from the new Game of Thrones spin-off “House of Dragons” discussing their favorite cocktails.

Advertisement

Sbagliato, translated from Italian, is “wrong” or “full of mistakes,” which is a Negroni where gin is subbed out for Prosecco. But the Campfire has gin as well as Prosecco and the bartender that served us said, “it’s not the mistake Negroni, it’s a half-mistake Negroni.” Incredible.

Brian Chilson
NOT A MISTAKE: The Campfire cocktail … with Prosecco.

We also tried the Cache Me Rye Now with Rye, Canton Ginger, Cocchi Americano and a pear cider float served with a lemon twist. I really enjoyed this one and felt so fancy that I successfully photobombed a couple photos while holding it.

Advertisement
Brian Chilson
Cache Me Rye Now

We were told The Fallernum cocktail was brought back because of its popularity on the fall menu last year, and it’s evident why, because I had to struggle to leave it alone. It’s made up of tequila, Golden Falernum, Angostura bitters, lemon and a little bit of sugar. It’s rimmed with salt and cinnamon and garnished with a lemon wheel.

Brian Chilson
FALL BACK: The Fallernum

Chef Payne Harding said he wanted to focus on shared plates and smaller dishes with high quality ingredients for the Bayou so guests can enjoy the food while socializing.

Advertisement

Harding plans on giving guests to the Bayou an amuse-bouche. We started with a truffle pecan bonbon with an apricot puree made with tapioca maltodextrin, an ingredient that Harding said adheres to fats, creating a powder-like substance that dissolves on the palate.

Brian Chilson
Truffle pecan bonbon.

Next Harding brought up some warm, pillowy focaccia with rosemary, served with extra virgin olive oil, toasted garlic and balsamic. The texture and the warmth of the focaccia with the olive oil made it difficult to properly pace myself.

Advertisement
Brian Chilson
Focaccia with rosemary served with extra virgin olive oil, toasted garlic and balsamic.

The fried boudin with remoulade and hot sauce will likely be a crowd pleaser. Harding said this dish is like a Louisiana version of Arancini, an Italian dish made of stuffed deep-fried rice balls.

To create the dish, a pork shoulder is braised for one hour with water and spices with the trinity of onions, bell pepper and celery, Harding said. After an hour, chicken liver is added and it’s braised for another hour, then strained and chopped by hand or put in a food processor, and then chilled. It’s then mixed with cooked rice before being breaded and fried. He served the boudin with pipette droppers of hot sauce inserted on top so you can inject hot sauce directly into the core of the boudin rice ball. I want a stash of these so when people at lunch try to pass me the hot sauce, I can say, “I brought my own,” and then inject it directly into whatever I’m eating, effectively blowing their minds.

Brian Chilson
Fried boudin with remoulade.

The closest thing to a main course Harding’s planning for the Bayou is a sliced Kobe beef dish served over spinach with Bordelaise sauce drizzled over the top, accompanied by a celery root puree. The beef is so tender and flavorful, you might need a moment to yourself to savor it.

Brian Chilson
Kobe beef with Bordelaise sauce.

Harding also brought out a couple dishes on Cache’s fall menu.

Advertisement

 

Brian Chilson
Pan-seared duck breast with butternut squash puree, fennel pollen, crispy Brussels sprouts and fig gastrique. All the fall dishes are served with a leaf-shaped tuile.
Brian Chilson
Pork shank with creamy polenta, asparagus tips, braising jus and spicy pumpkin mostarda.

 

The Bayou can be reserved in advance Mon.-Thu. It will be a members only club Fri.-Sat. For membership information contact Courtney Wellborn at 501-850-0265 or Bonna Sanathong at 501-313-9469.