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Nov 13, 201711:46 PM
Haute Plates

Our weekly blog on the New Orleans fine dining scene

Openings and Closings

I first met Chef Bob Iacovone when he was second in command at Cuvee, the now-closed restaurant at 322 Magazine St. in the CBD opened by my high-school classmate and friend Richard “Bingo” Starr. Iacovone eventually took the executive chef position at Cuvee, and it remained one of my favorite restaurants until it finally closed at the end of 2010, by which point Iacovone had ceded his position to another great chef, Isaac Toups. 

I got to know Bob reasonably well over the years, and consider him a friend. He’s been out of the restaurant game for a while, but I was pleased to learn recently that he’s about to open a spot on Freret Street, Iacovone Kitchen, with his wife Joanna Weeks Iacovone.

I haven’t spoken in detail to Bob yet, but I will before long and when I do I’ll share more details in this space and/or in the Restaurant Insider in New Orleans Magazine. For now, I’ll pass along the information that another friend, Todd Price, shared at nola.com: Iacovone Kitchen is slated to open Nov. 21 at 5033 Freret St., and its hours will be 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. The idea is meals to go; there will be vegetarian, seafood and meat entrees each day, as well as sides, soups, salads and sauces. What, no souffles or sherberts? (I would not put it past him.)

On the one hand, I should be tired of typing “Freret Street” and “new restaurant or food business” in the same sentence almost every week; on the other hand, the new joint will be a quarter mile from my house, and Bob makes good food. On balance, I’m pleased.

In less pleasant news, and also on Freret Street, Freret Street Poboys and Donut Shop has closed. It was a great little neighborhood place in every sense of the word, with good food and friendly people behind the register. I don’t know whether the eventual success of Freret as a “restaurant row” had anything to do with the closing, but my guess is that it didn’t entirely help. I have done precisely no studies on the topic, but I wonder whether there is a tipping point at which new restaurants opening in such close proximity to one another stop being a way to drive traffic and thus increase the business of all and start to a) cut into a business’ existing customer base and b) result in higher rents?

If there is such a tipping point, it’s possible that Maple Street is experiencing it as well, because another restaurant I liked is closing on that street. The restaurant is Babylon Café, which was one of the only restaurants serving “Middle Eastern” cuisine to offer an alternative to pita bread, in Babylon’s case that alternative was a thicker, pocket-less loaf. Pretty much all of the food I had there was good, but that bread is what I’ll miss the most.

 

 

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Haute Plates

Our weekly blog on the New Orleans fine dining scene

about

Robert D. Peyton was born at Ochsner Hospital and, apart from four years in Tennessee for college and three years in Baton Rouge for law school, has lived here his entire life. He is a strong believer in the importance of food to our local culture and in the importance of our local food culture, generally. He has practiced law since 1994, and began writing about food on his website, www.appetites.us, in 1999. He mainly wrote about partying that year, obviously.

In 2006, New Orleans Magazine named Appetites the best food blog in New Orleans. The choice was made relatively easy due to the fact that Appetites was, at the time, the only food blog in New Orleans.

He began writing the Restaurant Insider column for New Orleans Magazine in 2007 and has been published in St. Charles Avenue, Louisiana Life and New Orleans Homes and Lifestyles magazines. He is the only person he knows personally who has been interviewed in GQ magazine, albeit for calling Alan Richman a nasty name. He is not proud of that, incidentally. (Yes, he is.)

Robert’s maternal grandmother is responsible for his love of good food, and he has never since had fried chicken or homemade biscuits as good as hers. He developed his curiosity about restaurant cooking in part from the venerable PBS cooking show "Great Chefs" and has an extensive collection of cookbooks, many of which do not require coloring, and some of which have not been defaced.

Robert lives in Mid-City with his wife Eve and their three children, and is fond of receiving comments and emails. Please humor him.

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