The son of two chefs, Casey La Rue was born into the restaurant industry. He never went to culinary school but always enjoyed working in kitchens, especially because it kept him busy.
His skills developed as a stagiaire, or a stage, which is a kitchen intern. He started out at several Michelin-star restaurants in New York. Then he went to excellent restaurants across the country including Clio in Boston and Robuchon in Las Vegas — all in pursuit 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 at a small inn on a farm in New Hampshire, about two hours north of Boston.
“It was beautiful to be there,” La Rue says. “New Hampshire’s actually really nice for a good part of the year. Then it’s very bad.”
Ultimately, they realized the inn wouldn’t be sufficient as a year-round business, so they moved to Dallas. They opened Carte Blanche last June, following several years of thinking about what their own restaurant would be like.
Lowest Greenville was appealing because of its smaller streets, which reminded 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 former Mudsmith on Greenville. Some of the central architectural features of the coffee shop, like 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 is now used as a prep station for dinner, is the first thing in eyesight. Dining tables of various sizes are situated to the left and right, enough to seat 55 people at peak weekend hours. All the way to the back of the restaurant lies the kitchen, offering guests a clear view of the five chefs preparing 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 feature where there was a coffee window.