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Specialties Popping Up

Surely this must have been a typo. No one would seriously call a restaurant “Milkfish.” But then typos seldom last on banners hanging above a doorway. Milkfish it is. Another new restaurant was launched, this one on N. Carrollton Avenue. Maybe Brocato’s across the street can start serving Milkfish ice cream.

Despite the name, or maybe because if it, Milkfish is one of the success stories of the many new restaurants that have popped up. I use the term “popped up” with some thought, because that’s exactly what happened to this place that introduces Philippine cuisine where an “Italian Pie” restaurant once stood.

This issue looks at specialty dining, especially the chefs’ tables and favored bar spots at the white tablecloth end of the spectrum. At the opposite end, though no less worthy, are up-and-coming restaurants that started off developing a specialty of their own. The list is long and ever-expanding, and in more ways than you might think. Milkfish originated as a “pop-up,” a food purveyor inside an existing business (in this case La Boca) that gave chef Christina Quackenbush a chance to show off her skills. (A milkfish is a species native to the Pacific Ocean.

At the restaurant it’s served baked or fried, in each case with a special sauce.) The pop-up developed a following, so much so that Quackenbush and partner Dean Lambert decided to take a chance and open their own place.

At last report it’s doing well, serving lunch and dinner every day except Wednesday. But here is the kicker: You won’t go hungry there on hump day either, because Milkfish now hosts a pop-up – most recently an eclectic effort called The Splendid Pig. Yesterday’s pop-up success is creating space for today’s pop-up and who knows where that can lead. A “like” on Facebook is one possibility. Keeping up with the hurried world of places that pop up could be difficult were it not for social media, which spreads the word. (When Milkfish opened on the Thursday before Easter the place was packed, partially because of tweets and things.)

So the beat continues; one restaurant helps generate another one. New Orleans has always been a great place for cuisines. This however is the golden age for new places serving new cuisine. Anyway you look at it, that’s a thumbs up.

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