RESTAURANT INSIDER

Sylvain (625 Chartres St.), continues the recent trend toward restaurant-bars or “gastropubs.” The brainchild of Sean McCusker, a food and travel writer, Sylvain occupies a beautifully renovated space originally built in 1796 that’s just a few yards from Jackson Square.

The menu is largely comfort food done professionally, with items such as a chicken liver crostini, chile-roasted almonds and a porchetta “po-boy” emblematic of the selections. There are a few fine-dining touches as well, such as braised beef cheeks with roasted potatoes, sweet onions, field peas and a natural jus; potato agnolotti with summer vegetables, mascarpone cheese and a basil broth; and crispy pork shoulder served with creamed corn and a pickled watermelon relish.

The location is perfect for a night out in the French Quarter. Call 265-8123 for more information.

Salú, right,  (3226 Magazine St.) is another place focused on small plates. Ryan Gall, who was recently an executive sous chef at Emeril’s Gulf Coast Fish House, is the executive chef. Michael Rouss, a former executive chef at NOLA, is Salú’s director of culinary affairs. The menu is heavily weighted toward small plates, and the prices are very reasonable. A grilled skirt steak with a brandy and wild mushroom cream sauce and watercress was a substantial dish for only $7, and none of the small plates costs more than $10. Diners looking for a heartier dish can order one of several varieties of paella for around $20-28. There is a good selection of beers, and around 30 wines by the glass.

Salú is open Monday through Friday 4-11 p.m., on Saturday noon-midnight, and on Sunday noon-10 p.m. For more information or to make reservations, you can reach the restaurant by calling 371-5958.

“Rustic European Fare” is the focus at Feast (200 Julia St.). It is the second location for the restaurant that Richard Knight and James and Meagan Silk started in Houston in 2008. Feast serves many cuts of meat that you won’t find elsewhere, such as lamb’s tongue braised with vegetables, roasted bone marrow with parsley salad, pig’s ear cake and half a roasted pig’s head that serves two or three.

I tried several dishes recently, including an excellent terrine of rabbit belly, pork and chicken livers; a pork “rasher” with creamy Brussels sprouts; and braised lamb’s tongue with root vegetables in broth. The terrine was outstanding; all of the disparate elements blended into a cohesive whole. I was surprised that the chicken livers weren’t overcooked during the dish’s preparation, but they were fantastic. “Rashers” are essentially thick slices of bacon, and the liquid in which the meat was brined left it almost sweet enough to register as dessert. The sprouts were cooked perfectly, but the cream sauce, while tasty, wasn’t particularly appealing to the eye. The lamb’s tongue was fabulous, with the tender meat served atop parsnips, carrots and potatoes in a flavorful broth.

Feast is open Monday through Saturday 5-10 p.m., and for lunch on Friday 11-2:30 p.m. Call them at 304-6318 for reservations or to find out if they’ve gotten their liquor license, which they had not as of this writing.

Questions? Comments? Suggestions? E-mail Peyton: rdpeyton@gmail.com.

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