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News for Restaurants in New Orleans
March 2012 Archive

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When locally beloved Italian restaurant Bacco closed in 2011, many people wondered what would become of the elegant, cavernous space. Commander's Palace has come to the rescue, as the Brennan family plans to debut SoBou in late spring or early summer. SoBou is described as a "playful Creole saloon" by owner Ti Martin. The former Bacco space is being completely redesigned with a traditional dining room on one side and a massive bar and lounge area, along with a beer garden with beer booths. Martin calls the food "Louisiana street food inspired," featuring items such as crispy boudin, duck debris, shrimp and tasso pinchos and a suckling pig Cuban po-boy. Heavy emphasis will be placed on the cocktail and wine program, including self-serve pours of fine wines from enomatic machines. SoBou, W French Quarter, 310 Chartres St., New Orleans, LA 70130, no phone.

News Bytes

Chef's Charity for Children Scheduled for April
This year marks the 35th anniversary of the Chef's Charity for Children, an annual event benefittting a New Orleans school for developmentally disabled children. Every year, dozens of local chefs contribute time and products for this event, which features cooking demonstrations and food sampling. Among the big names Emeril Lagasse (Emeril's), Leah Chase (Dooky Chase), John Besh (Restaurant August) participate, along with many others, including chefs whose restaurants never re-opened following the 2005 hurricanes. The event takes place 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Tuesday, April 10 at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside hotel. Tickets cost $65, which includes a banquet lunch and a cookbook with recipes from participating chefs. The event always sells out in advance, so those interested should call 504-524-7285 for reservations. Hilton New Orleans Riverside, 2 Poydras St., New Orleans, LA 70130, 504-561-0500, 800-HILTONS.
New Orleans Figures Prominently in James Beard Finalist Lists
New Orleans usually received several nods from the James Beard Foundation when nominees are revealed each year, but this year the city is mentioned even more than usual. Four of the five chefs nominated as "Best Chef: South" are from New Orleans. They are Alon Shaya, Domenica; Justin Devillier, La Petite Grocery; John Harris, Lilette; and Tory McPhail of Commander’s Palace. Sue Zemanick of Gautreau's is nominated as "Rising Star Chef of the Year," making this the fourth year in a row she has been so honored. Meanwhile, Donald Link of Herbsaint, Cochon and Cochon Butcher is a finalist for "Outstanding Chef," while Emeril's Restaurant was singled out for its outstanding wine program. John Besh is nominated in the cookboard award category for his 2011 book, My Family Table. Winners will be announced the first week of May.
New Orleans Author Covers James Beard's 25th Anniversary
Mention the name Kit Wohl in New Orleans, and the first thing that comes to mind is cookbooks. Wohl has authored eight cookbooks from her Garden District perch. Wohl's latest is titled The James Beard Foundation's Best of the Best (Chronicle, 2012). Wohl traveled the country for two years gathering information and meeting 21 of some of the best chefs in the nation, all with the intent of producing her lavish new tome, featuring key recipes selected by the individual chefs. Each chef is the recipeint of the James Beard Outstanding Chef award at some point in his or her career. Recipes run the gamut from high profile chef Wolfgang Puck's pizza with smoked salmon and caviar, to San Francisco chef Judy Rogers' (Zuni Cafe) salmon bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich. Wohl's book is elegantly produced with dozens of stunning photographs by Susie Cushner. Look for a forward by none other than Martha Stewart. Wohl is so well known in New Orleans that Arnaud's even has a dinner entrée named in her honor -- "Veal Wohl."

Chef Shuffle

Elegant uptown bistro La Petite Grocery The elegant uptown bistro La Petite Grocery is shaking things up a bit with a new menu and a new pastry chef. The recent addition of pastry chef Bronwen Wyatt has added real flair to the dessert selections. Look for such treats as bourbon butter cake with cardamom ice cream, or butterscotch pudding with warm date turnovers. But the pièce de résistance may just be the perfect Louisiana cane sugar crème brûlée. All of these sweets follow new entrée selections from chef Justin Devillier, including a yellowfin tuna with chickpea sofrito, and fried sheep's milk cheese with braised lamb. Thankfully, the signature appetizer of baked blue crab brie au gratin remains on the menu, as does the shrimp and grits with shitake mushrooms and smoked bacon. La Petite Grocery is as busy or moreso than ever, so reservations are a must. La Petite Grocery, 4238 Magazine St., New Orleans, LA 70115, 504-891-3377.
Chef Rene Bajeux, arguably among the most highly accomplished French chefs in New Orleans, has resigned from the Rib Room at the Omni Royal Orleans hotel. Bajeux made his mark in the city prior to Hurricane Katrina, when he helmed the plush Rene Bistrot. After a long absence from the city, Bajeux took over as head chef at The Grill Room, and later moved to the Rib Room. Many dedicated Rib Room diners were pleased, but surprised Bajeux took the job, since the Rib Room is primarily an upscale red-meat centered, American-style restaurant. If it was not a match made in culinary heaven, the Rib Room still excelled under his leadership. Now Bajeux will open a new Rene Bistrot in the Renaissance Arts Hotel. The new establishment will take over the space currently occupied by LaCote Brasserie. With Bajeux's reputation and the convenient Warehouse District location, the new project is likely to attract a healthy mix of locals and tourists. Rib Room, Omni Royal Orleans Hotel, 621 St. Louis St., New Orleans, LA 70130, 504-529-7045.


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.

One of the New Orleans area's favorite neighborhood restaurants, Rocky & Carlo's in Chalmette, caught fire in early February and is still closed. The St. Bernard Parish Fire Department determined the fire was a result of spontaneous combustion caused by oily rags that caught fire as heat built up in their container. Initial damage estimates are $225,000. The most extensive damage is in the kitchen, although other parts of the building also sustained damage. Rocky & Carlo's owners struggled to re-open the restaurant after the restaurant flooded during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. It re-opened in early 2007. This time, the owners are hoping to re-open as early as late April, but no definite re-opening date has been announced. Rocky & Carlo's, 613 W. St. Bernard Hwy., Chalmette, LA 70043, 504-279-8323.
Jackson, a restaurant where old New Orleans cooking met twenty-first century cuisine, has closed. No word yet on what will take its place in this architecturally elegant old building in the Garden District. Jackson, 1910 Magazine St., New Orleans, LA 70130, no phone.

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