Although a projected opening date has not been announced, the owners of The Outlet Collection at Riverwalk revealed that Toby Keith's I Love This Bar and Grill is on track to open inside the shopping center. The Outlet Collection at Riverwalk occupies a massive riverfront space in downtown New Orleans. The 19,000-square-foot restaurant location is currently under construction. The Outlet Collection opened in late May. The restaurant serves steaks, burgers, fries and a variety of appetizers. Toby Keith's I Love This Bar and Grill, Port of New Orleans Pl., New Orleans, LA 70116, 504-522-1555.
La Peniche Restaurant was a neighborhood anchor in the Faubourg Marigny for three decades. When it closed earlier this year, local residents were shocked, but the building has now been refashioned into Horn's restaurant. Owned by the same people who run an uptown diner called Slim Goodie's, Horn's serves comfort food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The menu features local favorites such as chicken and waffles, gumbo, omelets, Cajun scrambled eggs, barbecued shrimp and excellent, strong New Orleans coffee. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Thurs.-Mon. Horn's, 1940 Dauphine St., New Orleans, LA 70116, 504-459-4676.
Because sometimes you just need the perfect glass of Champagne, Après Lounge, New Orleans' first ever Champagne bar has opened. Located on Fulton Street, amidst a burgeoning tourist corridor that includes a number of restaurants and bars, Après serves only Champagne and sparkling wines. The ambiance is chic and sophisticated, and seating is by reservation. The owners have taken a risk by not offering any other beverages or food, but still promise "the upscale ambiance with the sexiness and excitement you deserve." Après Lounge, 608 Fulton St., New Orleans, LA 70130, 504-610-2480.
As the borderline neighborhood between Marigny and the Bywater becomes more popular and highly populated, more restaurant choices are emerging. This time it is Sneaky Pickle, a semi-vegan restaurant whose owners proclaim they serve "good food prepared by naughty people. Play with your vegetables, eat with your hands, make a big ol' mess." Sounds like fun, right? Look for a variety of flatbread selections, including a standout beet flatbread with pumpkin seed purée. Meat lovers will still find a serviceable patty melt and a "Meatatarian flatbread." Sneaky Pickle, 4017 St. Claude Ave., New Orleans, LA 70117, 504-218-5651.
For 10 years ONE Restaurant and Lounge did big business in the Carrollton neighborhood. When the owners decided to close the place and pursue other endeavors, chef Jason Goodenough jumped at the chance to take over the space and open his new venture, Carrollton Market. Now serving dinner only, Carrollton Market looks much the same as it did when it was ONE Restaurant and Lounge, although it is significantly brighter inside. If it is light fare you seek, this may not be your best bet. Comfort food is the order of the day, as evidenced by such temptations as chicken and dumplings or crispy pork belly with sweet potato purée. Goodenough's food has a distinctive Southern flair, especially when he sends out his New Orleans style cassoulet, with red beans, pork belly, smoked sausage and duck confit. If that's not Southern enough, consider his fried pig tail tots. There is no word yet about future lunch service. Dinner Tues.-Sat. Carrollton Market, 8132 Hampson St., New Orleans, LA 70125, 504-252-9928.
It is not often that a restaurant owner opens a new concept with a new menu and a new name in the exact location of his former establishment. But that is exactly what Dave Gotter and Christy Parker have done at what used to be Gott Gourmet on busy Magazine Street. Gotter and Parker, owners of Gott Gourmet for five years, transformed the popular eatery into GG's Dine-O-Rama, featuring what they call "refined comfort food." Don't look for the ordinary at GG's, even for breakfast, featuring items such as crab and brie omelets with lobster cognac crème. Lunch and dinner entrées, which are cleverly categorized on the menu as "Fork & Awesome," include items such as pulled pork enchiladas, a seven-cheese mac and cheese dish with truffle butter bread crumbs on top, and a beef-and-pork meatloaf topped with tomato jam. Seating is available inside and outside. The lively place offers a different experience from that available at most of its Magazine Street cohorts. Breakfast Tues.-Fri.; Lunch & Dinner daily; Brunch Sun. GG's Dine-O-Rama, 3100 Magazine St., New Orleans, LA 70125, 504-373-6579.
When the elegant Domenica opened its doors in the fashionable Roosevelt New Orleans hotel, a state-of-the-art wood-burning pizza oven was installed. Still, no one could have predicted how popular the eatery's pizzas would become. The pizza has been such a hit that owner/chef John Besh has opened a new uptown restaurant called simply Pizza Domenica, serving the exact same pizza as Domenica. Chef de cuisine Alon Shaya will operate in a much more casual atmosphere than Domenica, but the pizzas will be the same, and the menu will also feature Italian small plates, salads and desserts. Shaya wisely brought along some Domenica favorite dishes, including his whole roasted cauliflower and a shaved Brussels sprouts appetizer. Lunch & Dinner daily. Pizza Domenica, 4933 Magazine St., New Orleans, LA 70115, 504-301-4978.
In a town crazy for home-grown po' boys, the idea of opening another sandwich shop may be daunting for some, but not Mike Brewer, the owner of the recently opened The Sammich. Located on an uptown restaurant row near the University area, The Sammich's menu is distinctive. From the duck fat fries to the fried lobster knuckle sandwich in mango cream to the flash-fried escargot, there is nothing routine about this place. The building has housed many restaurant concepts over the past decade or so, but Brewer's idea of taking classic entrees and refashioning them as sandwiches is unique to the area. Oh, and about the name: It's a local colloquialism for "sandwich." Lunch & Dinner Daily. The Sammich, 7708 Maple St., New Orleans, LA 70116, 504-726-6424.
Le Foret Debuts Summer Menu
Le Foret, the fine dining restaurant in the heart of the Central Business District, has unveiled its new summer menu. Chef Brandon Felder has added a number of new items, including seared snapper with ratatouille, jumbo lump crab meat in corn cream sauce, oven roasted grouper with zucchini squash, and a Kurobuta pork chop with andouille truffle hash. Diners will still find the popular foie gras with seasonal fruit purées and pecan butter on the menu, as well as Louisiana barbecued shrimp, and cornmeal-crusted soft-shell crab. The frequently rotating tasting menu is still available at $65 per person. On Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, the tasting menu is discounted 25 percent. Le Foret, 129 Camp St., New Orleans, LA 70130, 504-553-6738.
Summer Specials at Ralph's on the Park
In keeping with its nine-year tradition, Ralph's on the Park is offering its summer special of three appetizers and one glass of wine for $33. This year, chef Chip Flanagan has created an appetizer menu to suit various tastes. Included are such dishes as sweetbreads and crawfish, truffle fries, turtle soup, sherry shrimp and grits, fried chicken sliders, smoked fried oysters and grilled octopus. The selection of wines includes Benvolio 2012, Pinot Grigio, Grave del Fruili, Italy; A by Acacia 2012 Pinot Noir, California; and about a dozen more. Ralph's on the Park, 900 City Park Ave., New Orleans, LA 70119, 504-488-1000.
Emeril's Foundation Doles Out Grant to Non-profits
Cafe Hope, Cafe Reconcile, New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA) and Second Harvest Food Bank will share in a $125,000 grant from the Emeril Lagasse Foundation. Cafe Hope and Cafe Reconcile provide job training for at-risk young people, as well as career counseling. NOCCA is the site of the Emeril Lagasse Foundation Culinary Arts Studio. The Second Harvest Food Bank plans to use its portion of the grant to provide free breakfast to 4,000 low-income children enrolled in summer camps, as well as to help expand its Kids Cafe program. Since 2002, the Foundation has distributed more than $5.5 million in grants for children’s charities. Emeril's, 800 Tchoupitoulas St., New Orleans, LA 70130, 504-528-9393.
Peche Seafood Grill Takes High Honors at James Beard Awards
In a move that can only be characterized as well deserved, Peche Seafood Grill was named America's "Best New Restaurant" by the James Beard Foundation. Further, in an unprecedented double honor, Peche co-owner Ryan Prewitt was named "Best Chef: South." As if that were not heady enough stuff for New Orleans, Prewitt tied for the honor with Gautreau's chef Sue Zemanick. Peche is co-owned by chefs Donald Link and Stephen Styjewski. This is an especially proud moment for all three Peche owners, since no New Orleans restaurant has ever won the Beard award as "Best New Restaurant," making this recognition a major first for the city’s restaurant community. Peche Seafood Grill, 800 Magazine St., New Orleans, LA 70130, 504-522-1744.
Cochon Butcher Expands
First there was chef Donald Link's authentic Cajun restaurant, Cochon. Then came the spin-off, Cochon Butcher, adjacent to Cochon. The place always seemed noticeably cramped, since Link was operating not only a true butcher shop, but also an always-packed restaurant. Butcher is now expanding from its tiny 800-square-foot, hard-to-score-a-table digs to almost 3,000 square feet, and that is welcome news for the lunch and dinner crowds that discovered the place little by little over the past year or so. The expansion was accomplished by acquiring the building next door to Butcher and doing some heavy renovations. The menu will remain much the same, although Link is planning on positioning the place as a cocktail and small plates restaurant, in addition to still serving his hearty sandwiches and entrées, and of course, his best-in-the-city mac ‘n’ cheese. Cochon Butcher, 930 Tchoupitoulas St., New Orleans, LA 70130, 504-588-7675.
Update on Brennan's Reopening
When the venerable Brennan's Restaurant in the French Quarter closed last year after a number of Brennan family disputes and legal wrangling, no one was sure what would become of the historic 18th-century building. That is when Ralph Brennan, high profile restaurateur (Ralph's on the Park, Red Fish Grill, Cafe B), took over the business and promised to reopen the place with a different concept and a fashionable interior re-do. Brennan will reportedly re-launch the replacement restaurant in the Fall, possibly with a new name, but that has not yet been decided. Brennan is not sharing the menu concept, but a new kitchen is being built, and the floor plan on ground level is being redesigned, while the more private upstairs area is simply being updated. Brennan's, 417 Royal St., New Orleans, LA 70116, no phone.
Eleven 79 Owner Hosts Summer Seafood Boils
The owner of the popular Creole Italian restaurant Eleven 79 has teamed up with a fellow restaurant owner to honor a long-held summer seafood tradition. Joe Segreto will work with Le Citron Bistro owner David Baird for a series of summer pop-up seafood boils at Le Citron, 1539 Religious St., New Orleans. The boils will happen every Sunday throughout the summer from 12:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m. Segretto says he wants to bring back the tradition begun at some of the New Orleans lakefront restaurants that were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Lunch Thurs.-Fri., Dinner Mon.-Sat.. Eleven 79, 1179 Annunciation St., New Orleans, LA 70130, 504-299-1179.
The fabled Brennan's in the French Quarter is on schedule to reopen in September. Owner Ralph Brennan announced the hiring of Slade Rushing as executive chef. Rushing and his wife Allison Vines-Rushing operate MiLa in the Central Business District. Allison Vines-Rushing will take over the operation at MiLa. So far the legal battle to retain the name "Brennan's" has not been settled. If the case does not go in Ralph Brennan's favor, he will rename the restaurant prior to opening. Rushing actually interned at Brennan's in the late 1990s. Massive interior renovations are in progress on the building. Brennan's, 417 Royal St., New Orleans, LA 70130, 504-525-9711.
When the bustling Fat Hen Grocery abruptly (and mysteriously) closed late last year, many Uptown residents were sorry to see it go. Chef/owner Shane Pritchett never revealed the reason for the closing, but now a new owner, C.J. Williams plans to reopen the popular eatery. Williams hired chef Gason Yen Nelson, whose name may sound familiar from his stint on the TV show, "Chopped." Lesser known is the fact that Nelson was once the personal chef to NFL player Reggie Bush. Williams and Nelson promise a menu of classic New Orleans favorites, but specifics about the menu have not been revealed. What is known is that the small grocery section maintained by the previous owner will be greatly expanded, and Nelson will offer pre-cooked meals to go. Fat Hen Grocery, 7457 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans, LA 70118, 504-266-2921.
Crazy Johnnie's Steak House, the popular Metairie restaurant that has served the area for two decades, has closed. Late last year the owners announced the restaurant would close, but then reversed their decision due to public demand. But this time the owners say their decision is final. A last-minute deal to sell the building to a new owner who would revive the steak house reportedly fell through. Crazy Johnnie's Steak House, 3520 18th St., Metairie, LA 70002, no phone.
Chef/Owner Scott Boswell revealed that Stella!, his flagship fine dining restaurant in the French Quarter is closed permanently. Additionally, Boswell filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy for his popular Jackson Square restaurant, Stanley. Boswell issued a public written statement: "The economics of Stella! were simply no longer sustainable. The price we must charge limits our clientele. We can no longer be in the luxury food business." Stella! was regarded among the most upscale and innovative fine dining restaurants in the city. Days after the closing, Boswell announced a planned fundraiser with tickets as high as $250 to help defray expenses. The fundraiser was abruptly canceled after public and media outcries that it was in poor taste. Stella!, 1032 Chartres St., New Orleans, LA 70116, no phone.
Big changes are afoot in chef John Besh’s burgeoning restaurant empire. The National D-Day Museum announced it will not renew its contract with Besh to operate The American Sector and the Soda Shop. These are the two restaurants Besh established in conjunction with the museum. Both will reportedly close in July. At the same time, Besh and the Food Network's host of "Chopped," chef Aaron Sanchez, will open Johnny Sanchez, a Mexican restaurant using lots of ingredients indigenous to Louisiana. Besh and Sanchez plan their new enterprise in the Central Business District in the space that was until recently occupied by Ste. Marie, which moved to the former Meauxbar space in the French Quarter. That new eatery will retain the name Meauxbar. Besh and Sanchez are aiming for an early Fall opening of Johnny Sanchez. The American Sector, The National World War II Museum, 945 Magazine St., New Orleans, LA 70130, 504-528-1940.
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