Local confectioner Cheryl Scripter, a familiar face for years at the Crescent City Farmers Market, has opened her own chocolate shop in Lakeview. Called Bittersweet Confections, the shop specializes in handmade truffles in varieties including praline, pistachio, mango, and passion fruit. She also makes chocolate-dipped local strawberries, and dessert catering for weddings and other events is available. Bittersweet Confections, 5331 Canal Blvd., 450-3149, www.bittersweetconfections.com.
A new pan-Asian restaurant called Hoshun is spicing up the dining options along lower St. Charles Avenue. The menu spans dishes from Chinese, Japanese, Thai and Vietnamese cooking, as well as plenty of hybrids. Some familiar fare on the menu are potstickers, Thai beef salad, the classic Vietnamese beef noodle soup pho and a full sushi bar, while more unusual dishes include a "seafood martini" of fish and shellfish mixed with avocado, mango and strawberries or the Peking-style duck prepared with a crust of pumpkin seeds and a plum reduction sauce. Hoshun, 1601 St. Charles Ave., 302-9716.
A new option for upscale dining and Sunday brunch has opened in Lakeview along the resurrected Harrison Avenue commercial corridor. Lago is serving some offbeat dishes in a bright, contemporary dining room whose large bar area has quickly developed its own local cocktail scene. The menu starts with a selection of dips and includes such dishes as duck and tasso wontons, pasta carbonara with fried basil and seared scallops with Israeli couscous. At lunch, some options include duck tacos, a sloppy Joe sandwich and a burger made with ground buffalo. Lago, 900 Harrison Ave., 486-8282, www.lagoneworleans.com.
Look for Japanese script on the new sign now lighting up Frenchmen Street or just follow your ears for the sound of exotic DJ music to find Yuki Izakaya, a Japanese tavern specializing in small, traditional Japanese dishes called otsumami. Offerings here change frequently but might include crab dumplings, peppery French fries with wasabi mayonnaise, beef and lemongrass "salsa" with shrimp chips and steamed clams with sake butter. The menu includes extensive descriptions and tasting notes of the sakes on hand and Yuki also serves shochu, a clear, distilled Japanese liquor. Yuki Izakaya, 525 Frenchmen St.
The number of dedicated Korean restaurants in the area doubled overnight with the opening of Gimchi, a new Metairie restaurant that upped the local tally of Korean eateries from one to two–Korea House, a long-time standby in Fat City, is the other. The name Gimchi is an alternative spelling of the Korean national dish more commonly transliterated as "kimchee." Gimchi now serves plenty of kimchee, plus sushi and Korean-style barbecue that customers can cook themselves on individual table-mounted grills. Gimchi, 3322 N. Turnbull Dr., Metairie, 454-6426.
The husband and wife team of Slade Rushing and Alison Vines-Rushing is back in the kitchen at MiLa. The couple recently shuttered Longbranch, their Northshore restaurant that opened after Katrina. Now, they bring a fusion of flavors of Louisiana and Mississippi to this Central Business District location. The menu includes “Deconstructed” oysters Rockefeller, pig cheeks and langoustines, and New Orleans-style barbecue lobster. MiLa, 817 Common St., New Orleans, 504-412-2580.
If the Spaniards had ruled New Orleans a little longer, the city might be full of tapas bars like the one just opened by Río Mar. The excellent seafood-centric restaurant has featured a lunch menu of Spanish small bites for several years. With the new dedicated tapas bar adjacent to the dining room, you can now get a glass of Sherry and a plate of Serrano ham until late at night. Río Mar, 800 St. Peters St., 504-525-3474, www.riomarseafood.com.
Leah Chase, the queen of Creole cuisine, is again simmering gumbo and frying chicken at Dooky Chase, her historic restaurant in the heavily flooded Treme neighborhood. With the help of many volunteers and a few corporate donors, the art-filled restaurant looks better than ever. At the moment, Dooky Chase is only selling food for carry out during the week, but it plans to reopen the dining room soon. Dooky Chase, 2301 Orleans Ave., 504-821-0600.
One bakery closes and another one opens. The much-loved bakery La Spiga closed recently. But now Steve “Cake Man” Himelfarb, who got his start peddling cakes door to door, has filled the void of sweet baked goods in the Marigny with the New Orleans Cake Café and Bakery. The cake selection includes red velvet, German chocolate and coconut cake with coconut frosting. The café also serves breakfast and lunch. New Orleans Cake Café and Bakery, 2440 Chartres St., 504-943-0010, www.nolacakes.com .
Restaurant Patois opened recently Uptown in the former Nardo’s space. The chef, Aaron Burgau, spent six months as a manager for the Crescent City Farmers Market. He plans to use the connections he made with farmers and fishermen to create a light, French-influenced menu with a bounty of seasonal ingredients. Even the bar will mix drinks with organic produce. The neighborhood restaurant also serves brunch Sundays. Restaurant Patois, 6078 Laurel St., New Orleans, 504-895-9441, www.patoisnola.com.
Anton Schulte has returned. He first made his mark as the sous chef at Peristyle, and developed a following later as the chef at La Petite Grocery. Now, he’s struck out on his own with Bistro Daisy, named after his daughter. The Magazine Street restaurant, in the spot that briefly housed Civello’s, features Schulte’s signature modern American bistro fare. Bistro Daisy, 5831 Magazine St., New Orleans, 504-899-6987.
Chef Jason LaMotte honed his skills under John Besh at Restaurant August. Now he’s stepping out on his own at Ardoise. The Metairie restaurant, in the former location of Sal & Sam’s, is decidedly upscale. A signature appetizer is french fries perfumed with truffle oil and Parmesan cheese. A good follow-up would be a juicy steak and, to conclude, a slice of six-layer carrot cake. Ardoise, 4300 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 504-885-5566.
At Grand Isle, restaurateur Joel Dondis built a menu of his favorite recipes that he collected over the years, among them the barbecued quail, Crawfish Cardinal and turtle soup with chunks of turtle meat. With any of them, down a beer served from a tap encased in ice and guaranteed to be cold. Dondis, the owner of Sucré and La Petite Grocery, is a well-known New Orleans caterer. Grand Isle is part of the growing collection of restaurants and shops clustered around Harrah’s new hotel on Fulton Street. Grand Isle, 575 Convention Center Blvd, New Orleans, 504-520-8530.
A favorite restaurant in Treme (the strong Creole neighborhood just past the French Quarter) has a new branch in the Central Business District. Li’l Dizzy’s Café, run by legendary restaurateur Wayne Baquet, opened a second location at The Whitney – A Wyndham Historic Hotel. The new location features the same down-home, Creole cooking such as fried chicken, the 7th Ward pork chop and Trout Baquet, a fillet of speckled trout topped with lump crabmeat. Li’l Dizzy’s Café at The Whitney, 610 Poydras St., New Orleans, 504-212-5656.
Chef John Besh of Restaurant August proved that he was fluent in French with the restoration and update of La Provence on the Northshore. With Lüke, his new Alsatian brasserie on St. Charles Avenue, he adds a German accent to his growing portfolio of restaurants. Inspired by the long-shuttered New Orleans German brasseries, Lüke’s menu features such dishes as wild boar pâté, choucroute maison and platters of glistening shrimp, oysters and mussels. Jared Tees, formerly of the Bourbon House, will be the executive chef. Lüke, 333 St. Charles Ave., 504-378-2840, www.lukeneworleans.com.
The down-home Henry’s Bakery in the Bywater opened a second outlet farther uptown on S. Claiborne Avenue. At the new place, the donuts and ever-popular apple fritters, along with the lunch specials, are just as good as at the original. Henry’s Bakery, 3400 S. Claiborne Ave., 504-894-8894.
In early January, executive chef Michael Collins was fired from the New Orleans Grill at the Windsor Court Hotel. According to a hotel spokesperson, the dismissal was due to a “personnel issue.” Collins took over the kitchen at the New Orleans Grill only last May. A search is underway for his replacement. New Orleans Grill, Windsor Court Hotel, 300 Gravier St., 504-522-1992.
Michael Sichel has taken over the kitchen at 7 on Fulton, the latest project of restaurateur Vicky Bayley. Sichel bought and opened Restaurant Indigo the summer before Katrina and recently ran a restaurant at the Culinaria cooking school. He cooks carefully executed dishes that are equal parts traditional and daring, such as crabmeat with lemon mascarpone and curry foam or seared scallops with smoked tomatoes and almonds. 7 on Fulton, 701 Convention Center Blvd., New Orleans, 504-681-1034.
Guy Sockrider was named executive chef at Muriel’s Jackson Square. Sockrider, a certified executive chef, worked under Paul Prudhomme at Commander’s Palace. Muriel’s Jackson Square, 801 Chartres St., New Orleans, 504-568-1885.
It’s been a long time coming, but Mr. B’s Bistro finally reopens in April. The Creole classic, renowned for its gumbo ya ya and barbecue shrimp, suffered particularly heavy flood damage in Katrina. After an extensive restoration, the Brennan family restaurant returns with chef Michelle McRaney still leading the kitchen. Mr. B’s Bistro, 201 Royal St., 504-523-2078, www.mrbsbistro.com.
For generations, Camellia Grill satisfied the hunger of college students with burgers, freezes and chocolate-pecan pie hot off the griddle. When it didn’t reopen after Katrina, despite avoiding the floodwaters, loyal patrons covered the windows with post-it notes pining for its return. On April 20, just in time for Jazz Fest, new owners will reopen this restored landmark. Camellia Grill, 626 S. Carrollton Ave., 504-866-9573.
After the death of La Provence’s chef Chris Kerageorgiou, new owner John Besh temporarily closed the restaurant for renovations. The home of French country cooking on the Northshore is back and more elegant than before. In addition to renovating the building, Besh added a kitchen garden, citrus trees and two acres of small livestock. Steven McHugh, the long-time chef de cuisine at Besh’s award-winning Restaurant August, is La Provence’s new executive chef. La Provence, 25020 US Hwy. 190, Lacombe, 985-626-7662.
Venezia, a Creole-Italian favorite, has finally returned after a post-Katrina renovation. Located in a heavily flooded section of Mid-City, the purveyors of pizzas, fried eggplants and pasta loaded with “red gravy” adds another classic option to an area quickly becoming one of the city’s best neighborhoods for casual dining. Venezia, 134 N. Carrollton Ave., New Orleans, 504-488-7991.
La Divina Gelateria serves up sophisticated gelato and sorbetto, tasty panini and espresso that would pass muster in Italy. Owner Carmelo Joseph Turillo used to teach business in Madrid, but he was looking for a way to return to New Orleans. The charming new spot on Magazine Street became his ticket back. La Divina Gelateria, 3005 Magazine St., New Orleans, 504-342-2634, www.ladivinagelateria.com.
Dan Stein will be a familiar face to customers of Martin’s Wine Cellar’s now-closed location on Barone Street. Stein worked behind the cheese counter and managed the extensive beer selection. Now, he’s opening a Jewish deli in the Lower Garden District. The little shop features cheese, cured meats, fresh baked goods and classic deli sandwiches. Stein’s Market and Deli, 2207 Magazine St., New Orleans, 504-527-0771, www.steinsdeli.net.
The recently opened Anatole, inside the Lafayette Hotel, specializes in prime steaks and contemporary Creole dishes. During his three-decade career, chef and owner Raymond Toups has cooked at the Rib Room and at the Sazerac at the Fairmont Hotel. Anatole, Lafayette Hotel, 500 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans, 504-274-0105.
Pampy’s Creole Kitchen brings its upscale take on Creole soul food back to the 7th Ward. The restaurant, a favorite with political heavyweights, was the domain of the legendary chef Austin Leslie before the storm. Leslie passed away shortly after Katrina, but the recently reopened restaurant pays tribute to the master’s recipes. Pampy’s Creole Kitchen, 2005 N. Broad St., New Orleans, 504-949-7970.
Emeril Lagasse reopened Emeril’s Delmonico, the last of his three New Orleans restaurants to return after Katrina. The historic property, first opened in 1895 and then renovated and upgraded by Lagasse in 1997, suffered significant hurricane damage. The restaurant, with a menu of classic Creole dishes and dry-aged steaks, continues the old-world tradition of tableside preparations. Emeril’s Delmonico, 1300 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans, 504-525-4937.
Local diners will have a strong sense of déjà vu at Mélange in The Ritz-Carlton. Half the dishes on the menu were made famous at other New Orleans restaurants, like Bayona’s goat cheese crouton, Clancy’s fried oysters with brie or Upperline’s fried green tomatoes with shrimp Rémoulade. Chef du Cuisine Eric Aldis will create original dishes for the other half of the menu. Mélange, The Ritz-Carlton New Orleans, 921 Canal St., 504-524-1331.
Some call it the poor man’s Galatoire’s, with its hearty Creole menu and lively social scene. Mandina’s, one of New Orleans best-loved neighborhood restaurants, has finally reopened. While the heavily flooded Mid-City location was under repair, the owners opened new branches in Baton Rouge and on the Northshore. It’s hard to imagine, however, eating Mandina’s famed Gulf fish amandine without a view of Canal Street through the big dining room windows. Mandina’s, New Orleans, 3800 Canal St., 504-482-9179.
Chef Minh Bui is back in Mid-City. He recently closed Lemongrass, a high-end Vietnamese restaurant in the Central Business District. Now, he has returned with the small, but utterly stylish, Café Minh, located in the former Michael’s Mid-City Grill space and just a block from the original Lemongrass location. The fusion menu features lacquered duck, spicy beef udon soup and Asian-marinated pork tenderloin. Café Minh serves lunch and dinner, Tues.-Sat. Café Minh, 4139 Canal St., New Orleans, 504-482-6266.
Meat eaters can celebrate. Fire of Brazil is bringing Brazilian churrascaria-style dining to the French Quarter. One price buys diners unlimited plates of steaks, ribs and lamb chops served by waiters garbed as gauchos. Fire of Brazil launched in Atlanta, GA, where it will soon open its third location in that city, is planning locations across the globe. The restaurant is scheduled to open in late-January—just in time for the madness of Mardi Gras. Fire of Brazil, 725 Iberville St., New Orleans, www.fireofbrazil.com.
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Anatole closed its doors at The Lafayette Hotel in the Central Business District, about a year and a half after the contemporary Creole restaurant and steakhouse first opened. The chef and owner Raymond Toups was previously executive chef at the Omni Royal Orleans Hotel and the Wyndham New Orleans at Canal Place. Hotel management says new, as-yet-unnamed operators will take over the location.
Madrid, the Spanish restaurant in Kenner, closed. Taquería Chilangos, a Mexican restaurant, has opened in that location. Taquería Chilangos, 2723 Roosevelt Blvd., Kenner, 504-461-9907.
Alberta, a highly regarded Uptown bistro that opened in 2005, is no longer. Vizard’s on the Avenue, currently located in the Garden District hotel, will move to the spot. Chef Kevin Vizard hopes to have his restaurant relocated and open for business by New Year’s Eve. Vizard’s on the Avenue, 2203 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans, 504-529-9912, vizards.net.
Alberta, a deluxe little bistro serving New American cuisine, has extended its summer vacation well into the fall with no signs of reopening. Although the owners have not officially announced the restaurant’s closure, its financial troubles have been reported by the local media. Alberta, 5015 Magazine St., 504-891-3015.
Chef Guillermo Peters closes Taqueros y Coyoacán on September 1. The upscale Mexican restaurant on St. Charles Avenue began as a smaller venture in suburban Kenner. Chef Peters has not announced his future plans.
The beloved La Spiga bakery and café in the Marigny has closed. The Italian-style bakery was also a fixture at the Crescent City Farmers Market.
The hip Fire, in the Lower Garden District, shut down recently. It stood out among New Orleans restaurant for its lighter, California-influenced menu and interesting wine list.The Uptown neighborhood Italy restaurant Nardo’s no longer is open. Rumors suggest that a new restaurant will soon open in its place.
Jackson, an adventurous Creole restaurant in the Lower Garden District that opened fall 2005, has closed.
The Mexican restaurant Santa Fe, a long-time favorite in the Marigny, has closed. It’s rumored that a new restaurant will soon open in that location.
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