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March 2011 Archive

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News Bytes

Commander's Palace Debuts Wine Cellar Table
While much of the focus at Commander's Palace has always been on its highly respectable wine list, the restaurant never stops innovating when it comes to its wine program. This spring, the restaurant unveiled its new Wine Cellar Table. The private room seats 12 in the red wine cellar. Sommelier Dan Davis selects wines to pair with an exclusive tasting menu created by executive chef and current James Beard Award nominee Tory McPhail. Commander's is in the midst of a massive re-do of its entire wine program, including an expansion of the cellar capacity by over 50%, a new refrigeration system, custom stemware for each varietal and a tripling of its inventory with 14,000 cellared bottles and 2,400 on the list. Commander's Palace, 1403 Washington Ave., New Orleans, LA 70130, 504-899-8221.
Meson 923 Steps Up During a Critical Time in Japan
The elegant warehouse-district eatery, Meson 923 is doing its part to raise money for earthquake and tsunami-ravaged Japan. Chef Baruch Rabasa offers a Japanese Earthquake Relief Dish, Meson ramen with Berkshire pork, crawfish, poached yard egg and pickled greens. Appetizer portions are $16, while entrées are $30. A special cocktail, the Lemongrass Saké Gimlet made with lemongrass-infused Stoli saké and a touch of lime juice is offered for $12. All proceeds from the ramen and cocktail are to be donated to the Japanese Red Cross, providing food, medicine, shelter and clothing for victims of the disaster. Meson 923, 923 S. Peters St., New Orleans, LA 70130, 504-523-9200.
Going Meatless is No Problem at Vega Tapas Cafe
In New Orleans at this time of the year, those who dine out are often observing Lenten sacrifices. If you are one who has given up meat for Lent, as many commonly do, a good stop for you might be Vega Tapas Cafe. The new meatless tapa selections include a crisp apple-and-brie salad, a perfectly seasoned eggplant Napoleon, and an artisan Spanish cheese presentation that can be a full meal or a dessert. Other items include "Patatas Bravas," a classic Spanish dish of spicy potatoes and garlic aïoli. It all goes down so easily with Vega's new $10 bottomless wine glass, offered nightly from 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. Some of Vega's ongoing wine promotions are still in place, most notably its half-priced bottles every Monday and "Wine-y Wednesdays," when wines are $5 by the glass. Vega Tapas Cafe, 2051 Metairie Rd., Metairie, LA 70005, 504-836-2007.
James Beard Foundation Honors New Orleans Chefs
Consider them the Oscars of the culinary world, if you will. The James Beard Awards honor some of the greatest restaurants and chefs in the country. This year, three New Orleans chefs are nominated for Best Chef, South region. They are Stephen Stryjewski, chef and co-owner of Cochon; John Harris, chef/owner of Lilette; and Tory McPhail, executive chef at Commander's Palace. Emeril Lagasses's flagship restaurant, Emeril's, is nominated for Outstanding Service, while chef Sue Zemanick made the cut for the "Rising Star" category. Emeril is also nominated for a media award. Who will go home with the coveted awards? We will let you know after they are presented on May 9. Lunch Mon.-Fri., Dinner nightly. Emeril's, 800 Tchoupitoulas St., New Orleans, LA 70130, 504-528-9393.

Chef Shuffle

In an unexpected move, chef Anthony Spizale left his post at the Rib Room to become executive chef at Upperline. The Rib Room, while always high quality, had become a bit complacent in its offerings and service before Spizale showed up over a decade ago. Under his guidance, new life was breathed into the dining room with previously unheard-of offerings such as fried chicken for lunch on Tuesdays. In all, Spizale spent 20 years at the Rib Room, working his way up the ranks. His move to Upperline came as good news for fans of the eclectic uptown eatery, where proprietor Joanne Clevenger has been housing her art collection and serving the masses for decades. Rib Room, Omni Royal Orleans Hotel, 621 St. Louis St., New Orleans, LA 70130, 504-529-7045.
Chef Matt Murphy of Melange at The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans announced his resignation recently. Murphy, who almost succumbed to a life-threatening infection, fought his way back to life and to work, but only after a massive fundraising reception to fund his medical and family bills. His resignation caught much of the restaurant community and the public by surprise. In an announcement from the chef, he told his faithful followers he was ready to start some of his own projects and would re-emerge soon. We will keep you informed of Murphy's professional whereabouts. Melange, The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans, 921 Canal St., New Orleans, LA 70112, 504-670-2830.


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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