News From the Kitchens
OCH Market, Trinity and Tsunami
SARA ESSEX BRADLEY PHOTOGRAPHS
The complex at 1307 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. has been through a great deal of change in the last year or so. The market and regional food hub has seen several planned opening dates pass, and both the design and its name look likely to change before it opens, hopefully by the end of the year.
Recently I had a chance to tour the facility with chef Daniel Esses, who has been tapped to manage it. Esses is a talented chef who, in addition to helming the kitchen at Three Muses also has a fresh pasta business, is behind at least some of the modifications. He told me he doesn’t expect there to be a full-service restaurant in the space, but that the focus on spotlighting local products and serving a wide range of customers remains.
What remains is nothing short of spectacular, with two floors of the renovated former Myrtle Banks school building devoted to retail space for fresh produce, multiple hot and cold prepared food stations, fresh and cured meats, fish, bread, pastries, wine and a host of local products. In keeping with the mission to serve the community, you’ll also see national brands on the shelves, and prices will be competitive with other local retailers.
There will also be an oyster bar and a beer bar with tapas. Esses is in talks with local coffee purveyors to sub-let space on the second floor, and there will also be space available for event-hosting and cooking classes.
Changes are ongoing, and as I write they haven’t settled on a new name. Whatever it’s called, you can count on seeing me there frequently – once it opens.
Scott Maki has spent 11 years cooking in New Orleans, and the city’s cuisine is in his blood. When I spoke to him recently, he told me that with all of the new restaurants opening, he felt New Orleans’ cooking was being somewhat neglected. That is why at his new restaurant, Trinity, he intends to focus on what makes our food unique.
That isn’t to say that his menu will be limited to old-time standards. Rather, Maki wants to take the influences that combined to make New Orleans food what it is and expand on them. That includes Vietnamese flavors, as in the crispy pork ribs with lemongrass and Satsuma glaze or the hogshead cheese with wonton, nuoc cham, pickled carrots and daikon radish. Italian influences show up in several pastas, including spaghetti alla chitarra bordelaise with lump crabmeat, tomato and garlic butter and the strozzapretti (“priest strangler”) with charred tomato and fennel sausage ragu and broccolini. Entrées will include a strip steak with smoked gouda gratin and arugula salad, a roasted pork shank with white beans and mirliton slaw and fried catfish with tasso cream and maque choux.
Trinity replaces long-time French Quarter standout Maximo’s at 1117 Decatur St., and Maki told me that he’s been asked frequently whether the open kitchen will remain. It will, and there will be 18-20 seats at a bar so diners can watch their food being prepared. Trinity is set to open either late this month or early next and initially will serve dinner nightly. Maki plans to open for lunch during the week and Sunday brunch once the restaurant is running smoothly.
One doesn’t necessarily think “sushi” when one thinks of Lafayette, but one of the most successful groups of sushi restaurants in Louisiana started there. Tsunami Sushi opened in Lafayette in 2000; thereafter owners Leah Simon and Michele and Sean Ezell branched out into Baton Rouge and later opened a third location in the Cypress Bayou casino in Charenton. Their concept is simple: The restaurants offer a sophisticated atmosphere with a fairly broad menu focused on Japanese food with some diversions to other Asian cuisines.
Though simple it’s been successful, and the expansion continues with the announcement of a fourth Tsunami to open later this year in the Pan American Life Insurance building at 601 Poydras St., between St. Charles Avenue and Magazine Street. The restaurant is in the midst of renovating the space, which was previously used for events and meetings.
That address sees a lot of foot traffic, and it’s odd no one has thought to open a restaurant there before. Tsunami’s sleek design should be a good fit, and diners will have a pleasant view through the oaks that dot the plaza on St. Charles Avenue of the streetcars passing One Shell Square. Tsunami will share the building with another relatively new restaurant, Trenasse, another seafood-centric restaurant that opened earlier in 2015.
Tsunami is set to open early next year and should be open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday.