When Beausoleil opened in 2000, Baton Rouge was at the beginning of a gastronomic reckoning. The restaurant was an early adapter of going beyond a local menu scene that was then dominated by steaks, crabmeat-topped fish and fried seafood platters. The goal of founders Jeff Conaway and Nathan Gresham was to serve chef-driven dishes featuring local and modern ingredients, prepared with classic French techniques in an hip atmosphere.
“Being in business for nine years, the city has really caught up to what we started out doing, using new flavors and trying to create more of an experience,” says Conaway, who now serves as executive chef and managing partner following last fall’s departure of Gresham, who left to pursue a new venture in Colorado. “It’s been great to see so many really good new places hit the scene since then.”
Beausoleil was also a frontrunner in the brunch game, adding service in 2010. Brunch remains a popular daypart, attracting hordes of diners for detailed sweet and savory dishes—and adult beverages. In 2014, the restaurant completed a physical expansion, increasing seating from 90 to about 160, and adding a second bar and event space.
This spring, the lunch menu will see lots of new items, says Conaway, but a remaining favorite is the blackened rainbow trout with stewed okra and Crystal beurre blanc.