Noteworthy New Restaurants
Three diverse restaurants to try now.
A house bowl of ramen and a watermelon flavored shrub soda at Noodle & Pie
Photographed By Sara Essex Bradley
With so many dining options in New Orleans, sometimes we get stuck in the same old rut, often eating heavily or not venturing away from Cajun and Creole classics. There are more diverse offerings in town than ever, and here are a few to try now.
It is hard to resist a spot like Noodle & Pie ; it’s home to ramen galore and tucked inside a former Reginelli’ s that the Dante’s Kitchen crew managed to renovate into a space that doesn’t look like a former pizzeria. Here the aqua flooring sparkles like a swimming pool and folks pack the house in close-quarter seating for steaming bowls of noodles and Japanese snack plates that change seasonally. The menu is fresh for these parts, which lack any sort of ramen-mania that has already overtaken places such as New York and even D.C. But now chef Brian Armour is building a cult following with small plates ranging from a delicate octopus and pickl ed s hrimp salad with tender bits of fleshy meat tossed in a light lemon d ressing to the ever sinful corn fritters that go down faster than funnel cake, and are perhaps just as deadly. There are fries dusted in shrimp cracker and served with a sriracha aioli that ar en’t to be missed. Same goes for pretty much any yakitori (things prepared on the grill) including the skewered chicken , and the on-trend “ hot servings ,” including pork belly a nd marrow bone preparations. But it’s the ramen that’s a true escape. Here, salty and sweet collide in a heartwarming smoked hen broth for the House Bowl, which features tender housemade noodles , a plump egg, pork shoulder , fish cake , b its of greens , mushrooms and no ri. If th at doesn’t remedy a cold, pretty much nothing can. As for dessert, there’s a reason it’s called Noodle & Pie, and it doesn’t have to do with pizza. Pastry chef Mimi Assad prepares daily fresh pie , such as a luscious Banana Cream and the nearly absurd Bac on Pecan and S’mores pies, a nd they’re the perfect accompaniment to the meal. Who does n’t leave happy after pie?
Cane & Table is a new bar from the owners of Cure and Bellocq, but it’s not just a bar. It is also home to one of the best new restaurants in the city, and we’re not talking bar food or small pla t es. While the craft cocktail bar serves proto-tiki drinks (from the pre-Tiki era), duck beyond the doors into the back cou rtyard and there you’ll find chef Adam Biderman (the man behind Company Burg er) and his sous chef Ean Bancroft preparing a slew of rustic Colonial cuisine to pair with these libations. The jerk chicken is a must-try, but there’s also more than meets the eye here. A roster of Latin infused dishes cannot be overlooked, with skirt steaks prepared with safrito or chimichurri, and rangoon-like con grejitos appearing as small, crispy turnovers filled with creamy Louisiana crab – and disappearing just as quic kly. Shrimp poac hed in bu tter are served with a refreshing papaya salad that isn’t overtly swee t. There are sides of tostones and plantain dumplings , worthy of o rdering on their own. One more thing: for dessert you’ll find elusive rice calas making a rare appearance. There aren’t very many places that serve these deep fried rice fritters of the Creole tradition, let alone in dessert form, perfectly fried and tossed with some powdered sugar – an homage to New Orleans as an historic seaport.
Noodle & Pie : 741 State St., 252-9431.
Cane & Tab le: 1113 Dec atur St., 581-1112.
Café Carmo: 527 Julia St., 875-4132, CafeCarmo.com
The acareje (black-eyed pie fritters stuffed with cashew peanut and coconut paste) aren’t to be missed at Café Carmo – whether or not you order them with shrimp or vegan-style . This quiet little tropical café in the Warehouse District blends exotic flavors with healthier fare, including a wide range of vegetarian and vegan options. Obscure fruit juices – such as graviola (sort of tas tes like pear) and Cupucua (the official frui t of Braz il) – cocktails and adventurous salads abound. But it ’s the tropical specialties, especially the daily ones, which really shine. On a recent visit a hot soup featuring crab and shrimp in a tender broth with hatch chiles was evidence of a very talented kitchen, one that deserves a lot more credit than they’ve seen so far.