Son of two cooks, Casey La Rue was born into the restaurant industry. He never went to culinary school but always enjoyed working in kitchens, mostly because it kept him busy.
His skills developed as an intern, or internship, i.e. kitchen trainee. He started in several Michelin-starred restaurants in New York. Then he went to great restaurants across the country, including Clio in Boston and Robuchon in Las Vegas, all with the goal of working for the best.
About seven years ago, La Rue was between jobs in Arizona and found work at a bakery, where he met his wife, Amy.
Later, the La Rues worked in a small inn on a farm in New Hampshire, about two hours north of Boston.
“It was nice to be there,” says La Rue. “New Hampshire is really nice for a good part of the year. So it’s very bad.
Eventually, they realized the hostel wouldn’t be enough of a year-round business, so they moved to Dallas. They opened Carte Blanche last June, after several years of thinking about what their own restaurant would be like.
Lower Greenville was attractive because of its smaller streets, which were reminiscent of the La Rues of New England. And they wanted to avoid other parts of our city that “are a little more pretentious.”
Carte Blanche is in the old Mudsmith on Greenville. Some of the café’s central architectural features, such as the wooden door at the entrance and a bar in the middle of the room, are still there. Otherwise, the space has been transformed into a fine dining establishment.
The sturdy front door is flanked by two large windows. Inside, the bar, which now serves as a dinner prep station, is the first thing to see. Dining tables of various sizes are located to the left and right, enough to seat 55 people at peak weekend times. At the very back of the restaurant is the kitchen, giving customers an unobstructed view of the five chefs preparing the meals and a spiral staircase leading to a storage area.
New walls were added to cover the old ones, which were damaged and painted yellow. A moss wall was installed as a decorative element where there was a cafe window.