TOO NEW TO KNOW

New Orleans’ Best New Restaurants 2013

Owning and operating a restaurant are not easy tasks. However, you wouldn’t know that from the incredible number of new restaurants opening in our town – it’s simply mind-boggling that so many seemingly sane people are up for the challenge. First, there are all of the logistics and requirements surrounding the opening, then come the demands of a smooth and successful operation, add to that the realization that the restaurateur is also facing a knowledgeable and demanding clientele who are well-versed in the ways of one of the most exciting food communities anywhere: New Orleans.

Several restaurants have opened as we were constructing this issue of New Orleans Magazine. They show great promise, but are simply too new to be considered.

Pêche. The newest member of the Donald Link Restaurant Group, Pêche is to seafood what Cochon, another Link dining emporium, is to pork. Live-fire is the watchword here, applied to traditional dishes. Begin with a Gulf Coast staple, smoked tuna dip, move along to grilled mussels, chicken in a barbecue sauce and lamb skewers. Main courses are grilled tuna, smothered catfish, skirt steak and baked drum, among many others. There are even fish sticks for nostalgic diners who haven’t enjoyed that dish in years. Of course, chef and partner Ryan Prewett prepares them far better than one remembers from grade school.

– T.M.

Pêche, 800 Magazine St., 522-1744, PecheRestaurant.com


Tableau. Since 1916, Le Petit Thêátre du Vieux Carré has been staging productions that had community tongues wagging for their creativity and quality. Those presentations will soon resume, but for now Tableau, a new restaurant from Dickie Brennan, is the cause of the buzz. Extensive renovation to the building has been completed and it’s a serious work of art as well as preservation. Shrimp remoulade, oysters en brochette, crabmeat Ravigote and a crêpe du jour begin the journey. Continue on with Creole court-bouillon, barbecue shrimp and grits, panéed veal, chicken Tableau and eggs Benedict, Hussarde or Sardou. The menu will seem quite familiar to those who know New Orleans traditional cuisine, but the presentation and the tastes are very modern. Curtain up!

– T.M.

Tableau, 616 St. Peter St., 934-3463, TableauFrenchQuarter.com


 

 

Kingfish. The jumble of Kingfish’s theme lines are: 1) Kitchen and Cocktails; 2) Savor. Sip. Socially; and 3) New Louisiana Cuisine. Take your pick. They all fit, which is probably why no one in ownership or management did any editing. Chef Greg Sonnier, not new to these parts, is back out on the restaurant scene and hasn’t missed a beat during his absence. Hoppin’ John crawfish salad, tempura-battered “Devil Duck” egg, Buffalo “Bill” sliders and smoked rabbit gumbo start you off. Do not miss the house-made smoked andouille. Move on to Superette cochon de lait, Every-Man-a-King fish, seafood cassoulet and Saratoga steak frites. The extensive and quality-driven cocktail program is helmed by Chris McMillian, New Orleans Magazine’s Bartender of the Year 2012. Huey P. Long, the Kingfish himself, would love this place.

– T.M.

Kingfish, 337 Chartres St., 598-5005, KingfishNewOrleans.com


 

 

Little Gem Saloon. In March of this year, Nick Bazan took over as general manager of the Little Gem Saloon and reworked service almost entirely. In June, Bazan brought in chef Miles Prescott, with whom he worked at Rio Mar, and the menu was overhauled as well. Bazan kept the restaurant’s dual focus on music and food, with acts playing in the downstairs dining room nightly from 5 to 8:30 p.m., and larger shows upstairs on weekends. We anticipate Little Gem Saloon will be another of the best restaurants in New Orleans, but can’t pass judgment quite yet.

– R.P.

Little Gem Saloon, 445 S. Rampart St., 267-4863, LittleGemSaloon.com


 

 

About Dominique’s. Two years ago Dominique Macquet’s then-new restaurant was honored as our top choice for Best New Restaurant. Since then Macquet has moved his business to a new site, also along Magazine Street. We debated whether to call it a new restaurant or a revival of previous one. We have decided to opt in favor of giving others a chance while acknowledging that Dominique’s on Magazine continues to impress as one of the city’s finest dining establishments.

– Errol Laborde

Dominique’s on Magazine, 4213 Magazine St., 891-9282, DominiquesOnMag.com

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