McIlhenny Company, the producers of TABASCO pepper sauces, have added a restaurant to the visitor center and factory on Avery Island, which is located about 140 miles west of New Orleans. The company traces its roots back to the year 1868, hence the name. 1868, Avery Island Rd., Avery Island, LA 70513, 337-365-8173.
If there was one concept missing from the ever-growing John Besh collection of restaurants, it was a bakery. Enter Willa Jean, the brand-new bakery created and helmed by chef Kelly Fields, Besh's corporate pastry chef, along with baker Lisa White. It is located in the emerging South Market area adjacent to the Central Business District. Reportedly, the seeds for the new concept were planted way back in 2003. At that time, Fields was the pastry chef at Besh's flagship, Restaurant August. Surrounded by new and under-construction apartments, Willa Jean promises to be a gathering spot for incoming South Market residents. The bakery also offers sandwiches and hot plates for lunch and dinner. Best of all, Willa Jean is planning a sweets happy hour! Willa Jean, 611 O'Keefe Ave., New Orleans, LA 70130, 504-509-7334.
The always-busy Nine Roses has expanded its operation to the French Quarter. Nine Roses Cafe opened in the Quarter, after doing business on the Westbank of New Orleans for two decades. Nine Roses has developed a stellar reputation for fine, authentic Vietnamese cuisine. The new location features some of the favorite items from the original menu, but adds some original dishes, as well. Closed Wednesdays, the French Quarter location is open six days a week for lunch and dinner. Lunch & Dinner Thurs.-Tues. Nine Roses Cafe, 620 Conti St., New Orleans, LA 70116, 504-324-9450.
One of the most ambitious restaurant projects to be announced in a long time will open in late Fall 2015 in uptown New Orleans. Kenton's will be a bourbon-focused restaurant, featuring what the owner describes as an "encyclopedic collection of American whiskey." The restaurant is the creation of a husband-and-wife team, Mani Dawes and Sean Josephs, who each own restaurants in New York City. The building that will house Kenton's is under construction on Magazine Street at Nashville Street. Kenton's menu will reportedly be designed around the bourbon theme, and will feature a selection of smoked and grilled meats. In a tip of the culinary hat to New Orleans, the restaurant will include an oyster bar. Look for Kenton's to be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Kenton's, Magazine St. at Nashville St., New Orleans, LA 70118, no phone.
What started out as a low-key poboy service in the back of a French Quarter bar has become something of a local phenomenon. Killer Poboys, which offers only six selections on its menu, has announced the impending opening of a second, larger location. The new restaurant will reportedly have an expanded kitchen, which unlike its first location, will serve breakfast. The menu will also feature side items and salads, neither of which is offered at the original location. A definite opening date has not been announced, but the owners are hoping for a late summer opening at a location on Dauphine street. Will the in-demand "Dark and Stormy" pork belly poboy make the cut on the new menu? Indeed it will. Killer Poboys, 219 Dauphine St., New Orleans, LA 70112, no phone.
The ongoing struggles among Brennan family members continues as Ted Brennan, previous owner of Brennan's, announces his new French Quarter establishment will open in the fall. As we have reported, Ted Brennan lost his iconic Royal Street restaurant, Brennan's, last year, which is now owned by Ralph Brennan. Ted Brennan's new restaurant, Ted Brennan's Decatur, will be located just two bocks from Brennan's, with previous Brennan's chef Lazone Randolph in the kitchen. Ted Brennan's Decatur will be a 12,000-square-foot, two-story facility in a location that has seen many restaurants and bars come and go over the past several years. Ted Brennan's Decatur, 309 Decatur St., New Orleans, LA 70116, 504-512-9290.
The increasingly popular El Gato Negro is ready to open its third location. This time, the Mexican restaurant will open in the Warehouse District in the space formerly occupied by the short-lived Tacos and Tequila. Other locations are in the French Quarter and Lakeview. The space has a large bar area, so this location will use that to its advantage and offer seating and service in the bar, as well as the dining room. The same menu will be served as the other locations. El Gato Negro, 800 S. Peters St., New Orleans, LA 70130, no phone.
One would be hard pressed to remember an Israeli restaurant in New Orleans, but the recently opened SHAYA aims to change that. SHAYA gets its name from chef Alon Shaya, of the John Besh restaurant group, who says he grew up eating some of this food with his grandparents. Now, he endeavors to combine traditional Israeli cooking with foods and ingredients indiginous to Louisiana. Housed in the same elgant building formerly occupied by Dominique's on Magazine, SHAYA is a sleek, contemporary space that offers authentic Israeli recipes cooked in a wood-fired oven. The chef spent much of last year traveling in Israel working on ideas for his menu, which focuses on items that can be shared at the table. Look for such dishes as matzoh ball soup with slow cooked duck, falafel, lamb kebabs, baba ganoush and a few other items that may not be familiar to first timers, but well worth a try. Lunch & Dinner daily. SHAYA, 4213 Magazine St., New Orleans, LA 70115`, 504-891-4213.
District Donuts Sliders Brew opened to great acclaim and long lines last year, and now the Garden District donut shop is opening a new concept uptown. District Hand Pie & Coffee Bar occupies a high-profile corner shop that previously was home to PJ's Coffee. The new concept features both sweet and savory pies and a number of creative coffee drinks. Look for pies filled with such items as as kung pao chicken, oyster dressing, red beans and rice, and beef Wellington, among others. The menu changes daily, and features two cream pies, two fruit pies and at least two savory options. District Hand Pie & Coffee Bar, 5637 Magazine St., New Orleans, LA 70115, no phone.
Palace Cafe Brings Back its Temperature Lunch Special
One of the most popular summer restaurant promotions is back for another season. Palace Café, one of the anchors of the downtown dining scene, is once again offering its “Temperature Lunch” special. The menu features two courses priced to match the previous day’s high temperature. That means if you go to Palace Café after an unseasonably cool summer afternoon, such as a 75 degree day, your lunch will cost $7.50. The chef will offer a difference main course each day, Monday through Friday, through Labor Day. The first course will always be either the house gumbo or the signature “Werlein salad.” (Werlein was the name of the longtime piano store that was housed in the Palace Café building before the restaurant opened.) Palace Cafe, 605 Canal St., New Orleans, LA 70130, 504-523-1661.
Cafe du Monde Announces Expansion
People waiting in the long lines for their coffee with chicory and beignets at the iconic Cafe du Monde in the French Quarter are about to get some welcome relief. Cafe du Monde's owners announced the company has purchased the adjacent connecting building and will expand its operation. The additional building has been home to Evan's Creole Candy Factory for 50 years. Cafe du Monde reportedly will keep the candy store open while it renovates the space. Ever-increasing foot traffic in the French Quarter was cited as the reason for the expansion of the 115-year-old Cafe du Monde. Cafe du Monde, French Market, 800 Decatur St., New Orleans, LA 70116, 504-525-4544.
Coquette Offers Special Once-a-week Summer Menu
Coquette, the innovative Southern cuisine restaurant in the Garden District, is offering a special five-course dinner menu on Tuesday nights only, for $45. Items on the menu will be new creations from chef/owner Michael Stolzfus. We can't tell you what items will be on the menu, because diners will not know what is planned for that evening until it is served. Stolzfus expects to offer a similar five-course menu on other nights for $70. Coquette, 2800 Magazine St., New Orleans, LA 70115, 504-265-0421.
Following thre recent death of The Franklin's chef Jason Baas, The Franklin has scored a culinary coup with the hire of Baruch Rabasa. Rabasa, most recently in the kitchen at Atchafalaya, has already added his touch to The Franklin's dinner menu. Look for new items including a bacon-wrapped pork loin with roasted corn and poblano relish. The Franklin, 2600 Dauphine St., New Orleans, LA 70117, 504-267-0640.
Annunciation, the Creole and Cajun Warehouse District restaurant, has lost its high profile chef, Steve Manning. He was a big draw, having been at the helm of the venerable Clancy’s for several years prior to the opening of Annunciation. Manning has not announced his future plans, and Annunciation’s owners have not announced a new chef. Annunciation, 1016 Annunciation St., New Orleans, LA 70130, 504-568-0245.
Although it has not been open very long, Press Street Station already has a new chef. James Cullen, formerly of Treo, has taken over the kitchen at the charming non-profit restaurant. Press Street Station is located on the grounds of the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts, and supports the school with its revenue. One of the biggest changes Cullen has already made is the introduction of an all-day breakfast menu. Look for highly inventive items such as Bywater Benedict, featuring boudin over grilled summer squash, topped with poached eggs and sauce choron. Another tempting item is Cullen’s Sweet Potato Brioche Pain Perdu (French Toast), topped with cane syrup. Cullen is still adding to the menu, but if you’re looking for a perfect fried green tomato BLT for lunch, this is your place. Press Street Station, 5 Press St., New Orleans, LA 70117, 504-249-5622.
Chef Emeril Lagasse's French Quarter restaurant, Nola, has a new chef, but one who is certainly famliar with the Emeril's organization. Brian Mottola replaces Josh Laskay, who passed away. Mottola previously worked at Emeril's, the flagship restaurant, and at Delmonico Steakhouse in Las Vegas. Although Mottola is taking over the kitchen, no major changes are expected to the daily menu. Nola, 534 Saint Louis St., New Orleans, LA 70130, 504-522-6652.
One of New Orleans' favorite Creole dining spots, Palace Cafe, is closed until sometime in October, for major renovations. The changes will include a new kitchen, that will now have an entire area dedicated to charcuterie. Chef Rene Bajeux, most recently of the now shuttered Rene Bistrot, will design the new charcuterie menu. Changes most visible to customers will take place on the second floor of the restaurant, where a new bar and lounge will be installed, serving primarily rum drinks. During the extended period of renovations, Palace Cafe's lunch menu will be served at Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse, while the weekend brunch will be served at Bourbon House. Palace Cafe, 605 Canal St., New Orleans, LA 70130, 504-523-1661.
To the surprise and disappointment of many New Orleanians, Liborio Cuban Restaurant has closed after more than 40 years in its high profile downtown location. Liborio was one of the first restaurants in the city to offer authentic Cuban fare. Whether the restaurant will open in another location has been the subject of speculation, but reportedly, the son of the owner seems optimistic about a Liborio resurrection. A hotel located next door has expressed interest in expansion into the Liborio site. Liborio, 321 Magazine St., New Orleans, LA 70130, no phone.
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