Profane Scottish chef Gordon Ramsay brought his Kitchen Nightmares reality show to the area recently to re-work local eatery Zeke’s (1515 Metairie Road). The result is a stripped-down menu that keeps focus on local ingredients and recipes, but adds a few inventive touches. Some of those touches, however, don’t make a lot of sense. The “gumbo” on the menu, for example, isn’t really gumbo. When I dined at Zeke’s not long after Ramsay had blown through town, my waiter explained that it was more a stew than a traditional gumbo. He was right, and while it’s not a bad rendition of chicken and sausage stew, I can’t fathom why it’s listed as gumbo on the menu.
Standards such as crawfish étouffée; raw, grilled or fried oysters; boiled seafood; fried chicken; and a few poor boy sandwiches comprise most of the menu, but even here, Ramsay’s influence is apparent. There is a malt vinegar rémoulade served with the fried shrimp, and the fried chicken comes with fried sage and honey apples. Overall the kitchen does a good job with the food, and most of it is played straight. Zeke’s is open every day except Sunday for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., for dinner from 5 to 9 p.m., and can be reached by calling 832-1133.
In February, owner Tommy Delaune opened Redemption (3835 Iberville St.) at the address that once housed local favorite Christian’s Restaurant. Redemption’s menu won’t remind many people of the haute Creole cuisine that made Christian’s famous, but there’s a lot to like on the eclectic menu. Tropical ceviche came out as diced raw fish with two preparations, each served in a miniature waffle cone and garnished with a salad of micro-greens and fresh herbs. Deep-fried drum “fingers” were served over mascarpone-whipped yellow grits, with a baby artichoke relish and smoked artichoke hollandaise. The strips of fried fish were very good, as were the grits, but I couldn’t detect any artichoke in the loose hollandaise, and there was a sweetish sauce not listed on the menu that distracted from the overall dish.
A sliced ribeye sandwich on rosemary focaccia with Gruyère cheese and chipotle aioli should have been served open-faced but was delicious if a bit sloppy to eat. The shoestring potatoes that the menu said accompanied the sandwich were actually thin-cut fries, but these, too, were excellent.
Christian’s was always one of my favorite New Orleans restaurants, and it’s good to be back under the dining room’s vaulted ceilings. Redemption is open for lunch Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and for dinner from Tuesday through Sunday from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. There is a brunch on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and the restaurant hosts happy hours on weekdays from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Call 309-3570 to make a reservation.
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