Restaurant Insider

The sign outside Chill Out Cafe’s (729 Burdette St.) Uptown dining room advertises it as a spot for breakfast and “Asian fusion,” but it’s really more of a Thai restaurant with a breakfast menu, with some updated touches to Thai standards. The fresh spring rolls are served in a large portion and stuffed with fresh vegetables, tofu and your choice of meat, shrimp or a vegetarian option that adds “green bean noodles,” and wood ear mushrooms to the mix. All of the noodle dishes (again, heavy on the Thai noodle dishes) can be made vegetarian.

What I’ve had has been pretty good, including a well-rendered Thai red curry that was spicy without being overpowering. The Tom Yum Goong (Thai hot and sour soup) has an excellent broth, and the seafood version comes with shrimp, squid, mussels scallop and crawfish.
You can call them at 872-9628.

Le Meritage restaurant (1001 Toulouse St.) has replaced Dominique’s in the Maison Dupuy hotel and the menu is designed so that each of the items may be ordered as a small or large plate, to be paired with a specific characteristic of one of the many wines the restaurant serves by the glass. Chef Michael Farrell describes his cooking as Southern-Regional, and while his focus is going to be on developing a local clientele, he doesn’t intend to focus on classic New Orleans dishes.

I had a chance to taste most of the restaurant’s current dishes at an opening event recently, and found that even in small, bite-sized portions, the flavors were excellent. This isn’t the best time to open a new restaurant, and the location could be a challenge, but if Farrell delivers on the taste I had of the food, it should be a success. Call 586-8000 for reservations and more information.

Chef Chris DeBarr, most recently of the Delachaise, is opening The Green Goddess (307 Exchange Place) in the space formerly occupied by Jazz Tacos. The restaurant is small by any standards, but in good weather the seating should double on the “patio” formed by Exchange Alley. DeBarr and his partner Paul Artigues are splitting service, with Artigues handling a more casual lunch menu and DeBarr on the dinner shift with his more eclectic and ambitious approach to cooking. DeBarr also plans on having significant vegetarian options available – something of a callback to the space’s former longtime occupant: Old Dog New Trick.

Bob Iacavone’s Restaurant Cuvée (322 Magazine St.) has had an intermittent lunch service since re-opening after Hurricane Katrina. They are now open Monday through Friday, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and as of press time they’re offering a $25 prix fixe menu in addition to the regular a la carte offerings. The unique angle for the prix fixe is that you can order three of anything on the menu for that price – they’ll do three small portions of entrées if you like, which is pretty cool.

Call 587-9001 for more information and to make a reservation.
Questions? Comments? Suggestions? E-mail Peyton:

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