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News for Restaurants in New Orleans
January 2014 Archive

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RESTAURANT NEWS

Openings

Redering of Vitascope Hall For years the open-air cocktail lounge at the top of the escalator at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans was a hubub of activity. That was before Hurricane Katrina, which virtually wiped out the entire property. Now, the elegantly renovated Hyatt has opened Vitascope Hall, a luxurious room dedicated to craft cocktails and upscale bar food. Vitascope Hall may be so named because of the late 19th-century movie theatre on nearby Canal Street, and because the room features 42 large flat-screen TVs ideally placed for watching televised professional sports games. The menu is extensive for a lounge, including such items as char-broiled oysters (a local favorite), po' boys, pizza, seafood platters and an array of desserts. There is also an extensive raw seafood bar. Happy hour happens weekdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., with some menu items costing as little as one dollar. Open daily. Vitascope Hall, Hyatt Regency New Orleans, 601 Loyola Ave., New Orleans, LA 70113, 504-613-3740.
 
A couple of years ago when adventurous chef Philip Lopez opened his warehouse distrcit eatery, Root, the "New American" cuisine was untested, but attractive enough to draw a consistent fan base. Now Lopez is set to open Square Root, which is far more daring than his first effort. Square Root will offer only 10- to 15-course tasting menus that will reportedly take two to three hours to experience. The dining room will seat only 16 customers. Lopez is likely counting on some of his loyal customers from Root to fill those 16 seats, but just in case that hope goes unfulfilled on certain nights, there will be a bar upstairs that serves cocktails and lighter fare. The menu has not yet been revealed, but knowing Lopez's inclination to take real culinary risks, there will likely be some unique offerings. After all, this is the man who brought dishes such as chocolate espresso-cured lamb, and "lobster dogs" to the New Orleans table at his flagship restaurant. Square Root, 1800 Magazine St., New Orleans, LA 70130, no phone.
 
If there were a contest for the most unlikely restaurant name in New Orleans, Mopho would probably take first place. Mopho, located in a strip mall in mid city, is the brainchild of Michael Gulotta, previously chef de cuisine at the John Besh flagship, Restaurant August. Gulotta's casual dining spot mixes the traditional cuisines of Southeast Asia and Louisiana, offering dishes like a blue crab and fermented pork sausage po' boy, as well as pork belly with black-eyed pea custard and pickled mustard greens. Much of the menu is prepared in an outdoor oven, where whole hogs, goats and lambs are slow-cooked. Mopho, 514 City Park Ave., New Orleans, LA 70119, 504-482-6845.
 

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News Bytes

Emeril's Delmonico Opens for Friday Lunch
The era of the three-martini business lunch may be long gone, but chef Emeril Lagasse sees an opening for a fine dining lunch alternative anyway. Lagasse now opens his upscale Emeril's Delmonico for lunch on Fridays. The Friday luxury lunch is not new to New Orleans, since Galatoire's is known far and wide for the concept. Still, there are few if any Garden District or Uptown restaurants that make the Friday lunch an event to look forward to. Delmonico now offers some tasty temptations for lunch, including a veal Parmesan po' boy, a smoked pompano salad, and fried oysters bordelaise over spaghetti. There is also a prix-fixe, three-course menu that features a New Orleans favorite entrée, beef brisket daube. Insider's tip: The warm chocolate chip cookies with cold vanilla milk dessert will make your whole day. Emeril's Delmonico, 1300 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans, LA 70130, 504-525-4937.
 
Booty's Is First to Accept Virtual Payments
Booty's Street Foods has begun to accept Bitcoin as payment for products and service. Bitcoin is a type of digital currency that has no central controlling agent, such as a bank or credit card company. Payments to businesses that accept Bitcoin can be made via a scan of the customer's smart phone. So far, Booty's is the only restaurant in New Orleans that has elected to accept Bitcoin. On the restaurant's website, the owners explain why they decided to make this move: "1) Credit card processing fees eat up a significant amount of our revenue each month and offering a lower-fee way to pay means that we can pass on our higher profitability to customers; 2) Alternatives to our current financial system are intriguing to explore, especially as we see ourselves as a community business serving our neighbors; and 3) We’re nerds and we’re proud of it." Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner daily. Booty's Street Food, 800 Louisia St., New Orleans, LA 70117, 504-266-2887.
 
Brennan's Renovation Is On Track
The ongoing saga of the venerable Brennan's Restauarant continues in the French Quarter. A quick recap: After doing business for more than six decades, Brennan's closed last year amidst family squabbles over ownership and control. Ralph Brennan (from another side of the family) bought the restaurant with a business partner and set about to reopen it. While the legal wranglings continue between previous owners, brothers Ted and Pip Brennan, the latest news is that renovations are well underway and the restaurant may reopen as early as this Spring. No chef or staff has been hired yet, and the concept and menu plans have not been revealed. The restaurant will most likely not be named "Brennan's," since the name is owned by Ted and Pip Brennan. Also unknown: Whether the tradition of "Breakfast at Brennan's" will be resurrected. Brennan's Restaurant, 417 Royal St., New Orleans, LA 70130, 504-525-9711.
 

Chef Shuffle

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.
 

Closings

CLOSED FOR GOOD
Take your taste buds on a walk down memory lane! Check out our exclusive closed restaurant database for New Orleans to virtually visit your favorite dining spots from the past. Dominique's, R.I.P.

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CULINARY EVENTS
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