News From the Kitchens
Tryst, Altamura & Killer PoBoys
Shawn Fink Photographs
In spring 2013, 4128 Magazine St. was Baie Rouge, a relatively casual joint best known for cheese fries made with brie and an excellent brunch. Two years later it closed briefly to re-open as Saveur, with star chef Dominique Macquet at the helm. A couple of months ago Macquet left, and the space is now Tryst.
One thing that’s remained consistent is owner Kimble Donnington-Smith, a British ex-pat who came to New Orleans to tend bar and never left. When I spoke to him recently, he told me his goal was to bring Tryst closer to what folks in the neighborhood want.
In practice that means Tryst is more casual than Saveur; current chef, Son Tran, is an alum of La Crepe Nanou. He has brought savory crêpes with fillings like duck confit with a red wine reduction, while keeping a couple of items from his time as sous chef under Macquet, as well as a vegetarian “burger” that makes a return from the Baie Rouge days. Overall the food is a cross between sophisticated bar food and French bistro fare.
It is a comfortable space with orange-red walls, a lounge area near the open kitchen and a long bar running almost the length of the dining room. As I write, the restaurant is open for dinner only 5-9:30 p.m. Sundays and Tuesdays-Thursdays, and until 10:30 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays. Lunch hours are in the works. There is also a happy hour 4:30-7 p.m. with $4 craft beers, $6 wines by the glass and cocktail specials. Call 304-3667 to learn more.
Some years back, when I covered ManhattanJack – the bakery and coffee shop at 4930 Prytania St. – co-owner Jack Petronella mentioned that he was looking into opening an Italian restaurant of the sort he experienced in New York and New Jersey. The restaurant Petronella and his partner chef Coleman Jernigan recently opened in the Magnolia Mansion has taken longer than anticipated, but that’s at least in part because of the extensive renovations.
Altamura has a clubby, steakhouse look, but with Sinatra coming up about every third song while I was there, it felt Italian-American. There are 80 or so seats spread through a few rooms and, when the weather cools down, outside dining on a patio.
The broad menu includes a dozen or so appetizers and salads, half as many pastas and a baker’s dozen entrées. Items that caught my eye included clams Casino, minestrone, linguine with clam sauce, red snapper oreganata and several different preparations of veal or chicken scaloppine. Of note: Sides include Hassellback potatoes, in which spuds are thinly sliced crosswise, almost all the way through, basted with fat and then baked.
Altamura is located at 2127 Prytania St., and is open Mondays and Wednesdays-Fridays, 5-10 p.m., until 11 p.m. on Saturdays and on Sundays, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Call 265-8101 for a reservation (for six or more).
It seems like every month I catalog another restaurant that’s gone from “pop-up” to brick-and-mortar. Killer PoBoys sort of counts, I guess, as the operation started in the Erin Rose Bar on Conti Street in the French Quarter. Recently the folks behind Killer PoBoys (chef Cam Boudreaux, his wife April Bellow and partner Eric Beaucom) expanded to their own space at 219 Dauphine St., while maintaining their original corner at Erin Rose.
The menu at the new place is somewhat larger, but there are some holdovers: The Vietnamese-inspired seared shrimp with pickled carrot, cucumber and daikon, and the vegetarian sweet potato with black-eyed pea-pecan spread and greens are both available. The new items are as inventive as you’d expect: smoked salmon with remoulade “schmear,” red onion, hard-boiled egg and salad greens; barbecue chicken confit with slaw and coffee barbecue sauce; and ham and pimento cheese with caramelized onions and peppers with Creole mustard.
Non-poor boy sandwiches include roasted cauliflower with romesco, radish and kale on whole grain bread, and another holdover from the Erin Rose: grilled cheese with aged English cheddar and Jameson whiskey. The new joint (which the kids behind it call “Big Killer Poboys”) is open Wednesdays-Mondays 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and you can call 462-2731 to find out what’s going on at the moment.