COOLinary, Outdoor Seating and Patois
Did you know that COOLinary New Orleans is back for the fall? You might if this is your only source of dining information, and if that’s the case, you can learn about it here. There are 58 restaurants participating in what they’re calling “COOLinary Encore,” and having perused the menus of a number of them, it looks to be just as good as the normal COOLinary experience. I say that despite the fact that I very much dislike typing “COOLinary.”
The program started back on Oct. 19 and runs through Nov. 22, but not every restaurant is participating the whole time. GW Fins, for example, will have its three-course “Encore” menu up Sunday through Thursday until Nov. 8. The COOLinary website lists those details on each restaurant’s page, so be sure to confirm the menu is available before you make a reservation.
These days dining al fresco is pretty much essential for restaurants that rely in dine-in business, so the city’s “parklet” initiative is welcome news. As I understand it, the pilot program will start in the Downtown Development District and run for a month – restaurants will be allowed to set up tables in the parking lane adjacent to their properties.
The application process is fairly detailed, requiring, among other things, a site plan and diagram of barrier locations, a seating plan showing the distance between tables and information about the elements to be used, “including but not limited to chairs, tables, planters, barriers, etc.” The street has to have a speed limit of 30 mph or less, and restaurants must secure written permission from adjacent property owners if the seating will affect their parking.
The limitations will, of course, limit the number of restaurants that can participate in the program, but it could mean a lot to those who meet the criteria. Kudos to the city for starting it up, and let’s all hope the pilot program goes well so that restaurants all over the city can take part. Let’s also all hope that before too much longer we can go back to dining out in full restaurants, enjoying live music in crowded venues and generally living like we live in New Orleans.
I’ll complain about the noise and the crowds within 6 months of that happening, and you are permitted to call me a fool when I do.
Man, did I have a great meal at Patois the other night. Pistachio and cherry pork terrine came out with two different pickles, apple butter, mustard and a bunch of slices of grilled baguette. Tuna crudo came with pickled Cella peppers and rice crackers over a watermelon-white soy jus. It was absolutely perfect tuna, and the accompaniments didn’t overshadow the fish, which is not easy to do. Fried cauliflower was flavored with curry and served with more of the pickled Cella chiles as well as tzatziki, and the deviled eggs came out with what I think was a crispy garlic-chile condiment rather than the tobiko caviar and furikake seasoning on the menu.
Chef Aaron Burgau has had potato gnocchi on the menu since the restaurant opened, I believe, and he kills it every time I order. The current version comes with mushrooms, winter squash and Piave Vecchio cheese, and it’s rich and delicious. Three of us split those appetizers and by the time I ordered an entrée I’d eaten enough that I finished the meal with the roasted beet salad, because I love roasted beets. I also love whipped feta, satsuma, baby mustard greens and spiced pecans, which was convenient since those are also in the salad.
They’ve got outdoor seating, of course and are doing takeout as well. It’s one of our great neighborhood restaurants, and I highly recommend it.