Bayou Bar and Grill
329 Market (at Third Avenue), Gaslamp Quarter
Bayou specializes in Louisiana cooking -- except for desserts, which only use the sweet, heavy pastries of the South as points of inspiration. If Louisiana bread pudding is often dry, weighty, and boozy, Bayou's is light and moist. In place of day-old French bread, it's based on a soft, brioche-like loaf, and instead of rum or bourbon hard sauce, it's topped with a sleek white chocolate Frangelico sauce and whipped cream. C'est quelqu'autre chose, non? And their "Creole pecan pie" is another long leap from the authentic Karo-logged sugar overdoses -- at Bayou, the pecans are swathed in a light sugar syrup (resembling the "soak" in baklava) and rest on an ethereal bed of fluffy cream cheese over an ultrathin crust.