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September 2010 Archive

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A new wine bar debuts in Uptown New Orleans
On the extreme opposite end of New Orleans from the French Quarter, Oak recently opened its doors.  Located in an extra-large space that once housed an antiques store, Oak features an over-size u-shape bar that offers dozens of wines.  The wine list is unusually divided into sections with such titles as  "Herb and Smoke" and "Splendors in the Grass."  Oak aims to be a laid back, comfortable spot to enjoy wine, and possibly watch a Saints game on big screen televisions.  Specialty cocktails are imaginative and named after musicians such as Louis Prima and Ma Rainey. Look for a selection of small plates, including a duck and confit salad, cheese selections, fried goat cheese curds with chorizo and romesco sauce, and Korean-style short ribs. The sommelier, Michelle Gueydan, comes from Restaurant August. A real plus is the live music that starts early in the evening, rather than late at night as is the case with many other local establishments.
Dinner, Tues.-Sun. .
In a cavernous space that has housed many restaurants over the past 25 years, Salú recently opened its doors to an artsy interior and a compelling menu of small plates. Executive chef Ryan Gall and director of culinary affairs Michael Rouss, both formerly of Emeril Lagasse's organization, debuted a concept that may just go the distance. The interior of Salú is rich in primary colors, eclectic art and a large, hand painted skylight designed by local artist E.Lee Jahncke. But it is the well-thought-out menu that will most likely build a regular clientele.  Gall and Rouss created 200 recipes originally, whittled it down to 100, then 60 and finally just over 20 full-flavored small-plate dishes. Typical of the chefs' offerings are mascarpone-stuffed dates with applewood-smoked bacon, lobster egg rolls, and crabmeat and four-cheese flatbread pizza. The wine list features 30 choices by the glass varieties and 100 by the bottle. On weekdays, the chefs decided to open at 4 p.m. to catch the late afternoon or after-office crowd. Salú is comfortable, accessible and something very original for Magazine St. Dinner nightly, Lunch Sat. & Sun. SalĂș, 3226 Magazine St., New Orleans, LA 70115, 504-371-5958.
You could make the argument that New Orleans invented comfort food. If you need contemporary evidence, check out the new Bistreaux New Orleans in the Maison Dupuy Hotel. Located adjacent to Le Meritage, Bistreaux is another creation of chef Michael Farrel, albeit more casual and moderately priced. With oversize windows that overlook busy Burgundy Street, and a breezy, upscale casual dining room, Bistreaux even has a resident pianist, Paul Longstreth. About that comfort food: Look for oysters on the half shell, sandwiches (try the cochon du lait), red beans and rice, po-boys and anything that says “comfort.” After chef Dominique Macquet left the hotel last year, some locals wondered how the place would fare with a new chef. The good news is the place is packed, the food is consistently delicious and everybody’s as comfortable as can be. Did we mention the house made pizzas and desserts? It all goes down easily with a nice selection of boutique wines, artisanal beers and cocktails made at the bar located in the dining room. Bistreaux New Orleans, Maison Dupuy Hotel, 1001 Toulouse St., New Orleans, LA 70112, 504-586-8000.
For anyone who wonders what might happen if a professional bartender/club owner, a musician, and an experienced chef pooled their resources, look no further than the recently opened Three Muses Restaurant.  Located on a short, but high traffic restaurant row in the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood, Three Muses is a bar/restaurant/music club with a hip vibe that is the signature of Frenchmen Street. Co-owner Sophie Lee is an Ella Fitzgerald-inspired singer, while Daniel Esses is a chef who honed his craft in New York, and has since graced the kitchen of some top-notch New Orleans restaurants. They teamed with Christopher Starnes, a professional bartender who also once owned Coffea Café in New Orleans. The result is as much a cocktail destination as it is jazz club, and the tapas-inspired menu easily complements the laid back atmosphere.  Rabbit empanadas with sun-dried tomato aioli anyone? Try the crab and artichoke ravioli in pesto cream sauce, and if you’re a dedicated vegan, do not miss the garlic and sesame Chinese broccoli dish. Three Muses Restaurant, 536 Frenchmen St., New Orleans, LA 70116, 504-298-8740.
If you open a wine bar on Oak Street in uptown New Orleans, the easiest thing to call it is simply Oak. The simplicity of the name belies the highly stylized interior with concrete floors imposing chandeliers, a big u-shaped bar in the middle of the room and a unique wine list with categories such as “Herb and Smoke,” featuring Grenache, Malbec and more; and “Splendor in the Grass” offering crisp whites. Cool, bordering on chic, Oak offers an array of small plates. In any other wine bar, the food might be secondary, but here, chef Aaron Burgau of another uptown eatery, Restaurant Patois. Burgau splits his time between the two restaurants, and here he offers such items as fried calamari salad with fresh herbs, and full-flavored Korean style short ribs. The wine list is an oenophile’s dream, quite extensive, and offering many by the glass, ranging in price from $6 to $15. The crowd is eclectic, to say the least. Live entertainment is offered every night. Oak, 8118 Oak St., New Orleans, LA 70118, 504-302-1485.
Even though New Orleans boasts more restaurants now than the city had before Hurricane Katrina, the openings keep happening. Most recently chef John Folse, proprietor of Lafitte’s Landing at Bittersweet Plantation, announced he is partnering with chef Rick Tramonto, formerly of Chicago’s TRU and Tramonto's Steak & Seafood, to open Restaurant R’evolution at the Royal Sonesta Hotel. The chefs, who have been friends for many years, plan to open a contemporary Creole restaurant in 2011, featuring 197 seats, a bar that seats 40 three private rooms, an “expo kitchen” for 10 and a chef’s table in the main kitchen that seats 12. The Royal Sonesta, located on one of the busiest corners in the French Quarter, is currently home to Begue’s and the popular Desire Oyster Bar. Look for revolutionary dishes like turtle soup with cappuccino of truffle spuma and cubes of sherry gelée, and lots of Gulf seafood dishes. We will keep you posted on the progress and projected opening date. Restaurant R'evolution, Royal Sonesta Hotel, 300 Bourbon St., New Orleans, LA 70130, 504-586-0300.
Instead of having dinner and then driving across town to the movie theatre, what if you could do everything all in one place? Chef Adolfo Garcia, whose local restaurants include Rio Mar, A Mano and La Boca, is nothing if not innovative. Garcia has opened Gusto inside the Canal Place Theatres. It works like this: Buy a ticket online and arrive at least 30 minutes early for the movie of your choice. An attendant escorts you to your seats, a server will take your cocktail order and bring you a Gusto menu. Each of the overstuffed theatre seats has its own fold out mini table, on which you may be served anything from gourmet flatbread pizzas to lavish salads (try the glazed duck salad with dried figs) to generously-portioned sandwiches. And fear not: You can still get popcorn, although it's likely to have white truffle oil or Parmesan and black pepper. Did we mention the locally beloved Angelo Brocato's Italian cookie plate? Lunch & Dinner daily. Gusto, The Shops at Canal Place, 333 Canal St.-Third Floor, New Orleans, LA 70130, 504-363-1117.

News Bytes

Morton's The Steakhouse Kicks Power Lunch Up a Notch on Fridays
Morton's The Steakhouse, the chic destination for steaks and seafood on the edge of the French Quarter, recently opened for lunch on Fridays. News of the Friday lunch offering spread through downtown New Orleans like wildfire, largely because of the three-course "Power Lunch" menu for $39. Although a limited á la carte menu is available, the focus is on the three-course deal offered from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Centrally located between the French Quarter and the CBD, Morton's is bound to attract a respectable mix of out-of-towners and downtown office personnel. Ever since the original Ruth's Chris Steakhouse location closed after Hurricane Katrina, power-lunchers have been seeking their new location of choice. Morton's has answered the call, deliciously. Morton's The Steakhouse, Shops at Canal St., 365 Canal St., New Orleans, LA 70130, 504-566-0221.
Copeland's Spices Things up with a New Barbecue Menu
Copeland's has been a fixture in New Orleans for decades, and although the menu is Cajun-inspired, sometimes they tend to spice things up in a new way. Now, the restaurant has debuted a barbecue menu featuring items such as slow cooked beef brisket and smoked pulled pork. Family style meals are served to a minimum of four people for $11.99 per person, featuring two pounds of barbecued meat, two 16 oz. sides, and your choice of six biscuits, two skillets of corn bread or brioche toast. Brisket, pork, ribs and sausage are all available for carry out orders by the pound. In a town not known for barbecue, the new menu is a welcome change. No word yet on whether the menu is permanent, but judging by the response, we'd say it probably is. Copeland's of New Orleans, 1001 South Clearview Pkwy., New Orleans, LA 70121, 504-620-7800.
Dine at Mike's on the Avenue and Help Louisiana Fishermen
Gulf Coast fishermen are still struggling to re-establish their livelihoods, and New Orleans restaurateurs are doing their part to help. Chief among them are Vicky Bayley and Mike Fennelly, co-owners of Mike’s on the Avenue in the Central Business District. Bayley and Fennelly have decided to donate a portion of the proceeds from all seafood items to Friends of the Fisherman, the fund created by the Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board. Among the items available on Mike’s menu is a Louisiana redfish pâté with red onion confit and house-made sesame crackers. Move right into an entrée of Louisiana crab-and-crawfish cakes with rémoulade, salsa and guacamole. Mike’s also has a full selection of small plates, including Louisiana barbecued oysters with crispy pancetta. Call 504-523-7600 for reservations or visit Mike's on the Avenue, Lafayette Hotel, 628 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans, LA 70130, 504-523-7600.

Chef Shuffle

Mention martinis in New Orleans, and the first destination that comes to mind is the Bombay Club in the French Quarter. But never underestimate the food. With that in mind, owner Richard Fiske recently announced the appointment of Louisiana native Ricky Cheramie as the new executive chef. Cheramie comes to the restaurant with a background that began with famed chef Paul Prudhomme's K-Paul's Kitchen. That was followed by two years at Commander's Palace, and a stint at Boston's Grill 23. So, why did he return to the Crescent City? "Lobsters are good, but they ain't crawfish," Cheramie said. His return also enabled him to spend four years as sous chef at Emeril's. He now says he wants to "add a little nouveau Cajun --- Old World Cajun flavors married with fine dining, quality, fresh ingredients and a warm, inviting atmosphere." Bombay Club, Prince Conti Hotel, 830 Conti St., New Orleans, LA 70112, 504-586-0972.
If there is one thing Upperline's owner, Joanne Clevenger, is known for it is finding fine chefs, who tend to stay in the position for a long time. Ken Smith, who recently left Upperline to join the Seminary, stayed for almost 20 years. Will newly-appointed chef Nathan Winowich be as long-term? Time will tell, but Winowich comes to Upperline following five years at the Foundation Room, the private club and restaurant at the House of Blues. Before that, he spent several years as the chef at Chattanooga, Tenn.'s Southside Grill. Menu favorites at Upperline, such as the fried green tomatoes with shrimp rémoulade (which the restaurant claims was invented there) and the annual garlic festival will likely remain house signatures. But Winowich says he hopes to make the menu more seasonal, as well. The menu at Upperline has not changed significantly in more than a decade, so regular guests will likely look forward to what Winowich has in mind. Upperline , 1413 Upperline St., New Orleans, LA 70115, 504-891-9822.


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.

New Orleanians are readying themselves to bid farewell to one of the city's venerable dining rooms, Begue's at the Royal Sonesta Hotel. High-profile Chicago chef Rick Tramonto formerly of TRU and locally beloved Chef John Folse, owner of John Folse and Company, recently announced their new partnership, and the impending opening of Restaurant R'evolution. Begue's, Royal Sonesta Hotel, 300 Bourbon St., New Orleans, LA 70130, 504-586-0300.

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Stay in a romantic mood with this Rosé Champagne.

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8 Ball Chocolate WhiskeyFor those that love chocolate and whiskey, this is a match made in heaven.

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