Between new restaurant openings and new offerings at old local favorites, 2013 has seen many changes in the New Orleans culinary scene. As the season changes, so do the ingredients, and so does the focus of many regional chefs. Here is a look at what’s new around town this fall.
As to casual dining, the owners of Rivershack Tavern recently ventured into the CBD with the newly opened Warehouse Grille on the corner of Magazine and St. Joseph streets. Featuring a pub-style, family friendly restaurant and an expansive outdoor patio/courtyard, Warehouse Grille satisfies diners looking to kick back with friends as well as families looking for a fun, casual night out.
The menu, designed by chef Donald Julien, takes New Orleans pub grub up a notch with creative dishes such as lamb springs rolls appetizer (lamb and vegetables stuffed inside spring rolls and served with a homemade apple mint sauce) and the Tuna St. Julien small plate (medium rare tuna filet served with julienne vegetables and topped with a poblano rouille and a side of Crystal butter).
“My personal favorite is the eggplant Napoleon,” says Julien, whose previous experience includes Executive Chef at Messina’s and Director of Food & Beverage at the Hilton. The savory not-so-small plate is composed of layered fried eggplant with an eggplant stuffing, topped with shrimp and a roasted red pepper sabayon sauce.
Warehouse Grille also features 40 beers on tap, daily specials, brunch on weekends and live music on the patio every Friday night. Parents looking for a lively weekend dinner spot are more than welcome to bring the kids to this new downtown gem.
A Commander’s family restaurant, SoBou (“South of Bourbon”) continues to make waves as it enters its second year of business in the French Quarter. Chef Juan Carlos and bar chef Abigail Gullo, along with Commander’s Palace executive chef Tory McPhail and wine guy Dan Davis hosted dinner at the legendary James Beard House in September, and this month SoBou continues celebrating both the local and national community with happy hour events for both 504ward and the Young Leadership Council.
SoBou’s “Happier Hour” menu is offered daily from 3-6 p.m. and features $3 to $6 sips and snacks such as Cajun queso & cracklin’, alligator corndogs, braised short rib sliders, beer, wine and cocktails. The hidden courtyard offers a relaxing fall hangout for those looking to unwind, while the warm and contemporary interior provides a sophisticated dining atmosphere for those delving deeper into chef Juan Carlos’ menu.
As a self-proclaimed “spirited” restaurant, SoBou hosts monthly Mixology Monday seminars in conjunction with The Museum of the American Cocktail and the Southern Food & Beverage Museum. Visit Monday, December 2, when bar chef Abigail Gullo talks about holiday cocktails. In the meantime, enjoy her fabulous new winter concoction, The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown: Great Lakes Pumpkin Seasonal Spirit, New Orleans Cajun Spiced Rum, Steen’s Cane Syrup, bitters and garnished with an orange and lime twist.
A restaurant hardly new to New Orleans is rolling out its new fall menu. Antoine’s popular $20.13 lunch menus continue with the latest seasonal installment of local, fresh ingredients. For those unaware, the 173-year-old classic New Orleans restaurant offers three-course lunches for a mere $20.13, exclusive of tax, gratuity and alcohol. You can save on the drinks as well with a daily-featured $0.25 cocktail with purchase of an entrée. The $20.13 fall lunch menu is available Monday through Saturday for parties of 15 or less.
This fall, lunch guests choose from three appetizers, which include charbroiled oysters (Louisiana oysters charred with a seasoned garlic, herb and olive oil and topped with Romano cheese), fresh autumn salad (Antoine’s mixed greens with mandarin orange slices, shaved carrots, crumbled feta cheese, walnuts and an orange marmalade dressing) and the alligator bisque (well-seasoned and sherry wine-laced). Entrées include the breaded chicken Toulouse with Mornay sauce, the seafood-stuffed puppy drum Versailles with white wine Cardinal sauce and the Louisiana shrimp, andouille and grits. For dessert, choose from sweet potato cheesecake, raspberry chocolate mousse or pecan bread pudding.
Another local favorite, Arnaud’s, is featuring holiday menus this season for folks looking to either start or continue a southern Louisiana family tradition. On Thanksgiving, Arnaud’s will offer their four-course Thanksgiving Table D’Hôte menu for $47 during lunch and dinner. Start off with your choice of the popular shrimp Arnaud appetizer or the creamy artichoke bisque. Enjoy a spinach salad topped with pickled vegetables, red onion and Creole mustard cane vinaigrette before your choice of entrée. This year’s main courses include the crispy-fried Gulf fish amandine, traditional roasted turkey with cornbread or oyster dressing or blackened pork flat iron steak. Finish on a sweet note with either the old-fashioned pecan pie or pumpkin chocolate chip cake.
Arnaud’s also features a four-course réveillon dinner menu for $45 (plus tax and gratuity) throughout December. Starters include the butter poached shrimp or crawfish cake, as well as Creole onion soup en croûte. Gulf fish courtbouillon, roasted maple farms duck breast and pan-seared pork chop round out the entrées, while Bûche de Noël or cherry clafoutis are this year’s featured desserts.
Enjoy a holiday cocktail in the French 75 Bar, named one of GQ’s top 25 bars in the United States, or the newly renovated Richelieu Bar. With 14 private dining rooms that vary in size, Arnaud’s is also a top choice for hosting private holiday parties and events.
While certainly not a new restaurant, Broussard’s received a makeover in the form of a $1 million renovation and rededication this year, adding a lot of newness to the nearly century-old restaurant. Joe Broussard founded the restaurant in 1920, and his penchant for all things Napoleonic drove his passion for French and Creole cuisine as well as imperial elegance.
Restoration of the old building, which includes portions of what were once the historic Borello mansion, Jefferson Academy and Hermann-Grima House, is both European and Creole in style, complementing the historic significance of the property.
Executive chef Guy Reinbolt brings 28 years of experience, having worked in France, Germany and the United States and with several Michelin star chefs. Highlights of the new menu include filo crusted goujonettes of Gulf drum fish, kalamata crusted halibut, slow roasted half pheasant and wild mushroom dusted ostrich filet. The famed and refreshed Empire Bar will offer Imperial Signatures such as the Napoléon (Improved) and Napoléon (Complex), as well as bottled punches and cups, such as the Improved Pimm’s, Swedish Punsch and English Milk.
The Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group remains busy this fall with a host of events, specials, new menus and more. This month, look for Red Fish Grill at the Oak Street Po-Boy Festival on November 24. Last year, Red Fish Grill’s BBQ Oyster Po-boy was voted top poor boy in the category of Best Seafood. On Thanksgiving (November 28), Red Fish Grill, as well as Heritage Grill, will feature their annual Thanksgiving buffets. On the same day, Ralph’s on the Park and café b will offer three-course Thanksgiving menus to holiday guests.
Also in November, Ralph’s on the Park will feature a special cocktail to benefit the New Orleans Musicians Assistance Foundation. Stay tuned for details by liking Ralph’s on the Park on Facebook or visiting their website. Twenty percent of the cocktail proceeds will benefit the foundation and its efforts in assisting one of New Orleans’ most beloved and yet vulnerable communities.
While all Brennan restaurants feature menus stocked with Louisiana seafood – and rightly so – the Gulf certainly isn’t known for its supply of fresh lobster. This month café b brings a cure for that craving with a number of new lobster dishes, including lobster beignets, lobster bisque, lobster ravioli, and of course the “Maine” event: whole roasted Maine lobster.
Tableau is the latest offering by Dickie Brennan & Company with Chef de Cuisine Ben Thibodeaux at the helm. From his Cajun Country roots in Lafayette, Thibodeaux traveled to Thibodaux and trained at the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute before later working at a restaurant in France with two Michelin stars, followed by almost a decade of experience in the Dickie Brennan family of restaurants.
Located in Jackson Square at Le Petit Théâtre, Tableau has partnered with the nearly century-old community-based theatre organization and renovated a portion of the building into a new Louisiana Creole restaurant perfect for both theatre patrons and the general public. Tableau and Le Petit share many spaces, including a newly renovated lobby and elegant French Quarter courtyard.
Chef Thibodeaux’s menu aims to please guests with traditional New Orleans favorites elevated to a new level. An example of one such dish is the oysters en brochette starter, which features Gulf oysters wrapped in bacon, skewered on rosemary sprigs and served over roasted garlic beurre blanc.
The main dining room is open to the kitchen, offering guests a front-row seat to the culinary action. The second floor features an additional bar with access to balcony dining on Jackson Square. More casual diners may also enjoy the first floor bar, which features specials and snacks from 3 p.m.-7 p.m. daily.
Chef Greg Sonnier recently returned to the kitchen with the opening of Kingfish at the corner of Chartres and Conti streets in the French Quarter. The locally famous chef and former owner of Gabrielle features “new Louisiana cuisine” at Kingfish, a casual and relaxed restaurant with an art deco atmosphere resembling the era of Huey Long, from whom the restaurant takes its name. Chef Sonnier is hardly new to New Orleanians, and his new menu reflects his Louisiana-centric approach to food, although a bit lighter and more delicate than traditional Creole.
Local reviewers have gone nuts over his Every Man a King signature dish: a Himalayan salt brick-seared pompano topped with lemons, roasted pecan butter and red onion marmalade. The honey crab-boiled Duck a la Saulnier is another top pick, a boneless duck tossed in ramen noodles, roasted peppers, mushrooms and preserved lemon sauce.
The bar at Kingfish is overseen by celebrated bartender Chris McMillian, a Louisiana native and fourth generation bartender. As an historian and storyteller, Chris brings Kingfish to life with his personality, knowledge and classic techniques. Open for lunch and dinner daily, Kingfish also offers Happy Hour from 2:30-7 p.m., with $8 “lil’ eats” and half off beer and wine.
Arnaud’s, 813 Bienville Ave., 523-5433, ArnaudsRestaurant.com
Antoine’s, 713 St. Louis St., 581-4422, Antoines.com
Broussard’s, 819 Conti St., 581-3866, Broussards.com
Café b, 2700 Metairie Road, 934-4700, CafeB.com
Kingfish, 337 Chartres St., 598-5005, KingfishNewOrleans.com
Ralph’s on the Park, 900 City Park Ave., 488-1000, RalphsOnthePark.com
Redfish Grill, 115 Bourbon St., 598-1200, RedfishGrill.com
SoBou, 310 Chartres St., 552-4095, SoBouNola.com
Tableau, 616 St. Peter St., 934-3463, TableauFrenchQuarter.com
Warehouse Grille, 869 Magazine St., 322-2188, WarehouseGrille.com