Sweet retreat at Sucré
Dining EditorialOn a quest to better understand the art of pastry-making, local restaurateur Joel Dondis traveled to Paris where he found inspiration, and came up with a concept for a new emporium of “artisan” sweets. Today Dondis co-owns the shop Sucré (French for “sugar”) with executive chef Tariq Hanna, who has a reputation for being extremely talented when it comes to pastries and sweets.

Sucré is an innovative, sophisticated restaurant that meets the needs of the progressive and mature palates of New Orleanians, explains Dondis’ executive assistant, Conny Zeagler. “It’s primarily a pastry shop that encompasses every facet of the industry,” she says. “We have one-of-a-kind handcrafted chocolates, rich gelatos and a unique lunch menu.”

It is not just the treats that make the shop sweet, however. Sucré is housed in a contemporary mid-century building that’s bathed in a pastel palette with whimsical paintings. “Sucré provides a sense of escapism to both the young and old with its vibrant friendly atmosphere and exquisite handcrafted products,” says Zeagler. This fall, she says to be on the look out for creations using fall fruits and flavors. The shop also offers custom cakes for all occasions.

Information, 3025 Magazine St., 520-8311,www.shopsucre.com. Arabesque against the Odds
Dining EditorialIn a renovated 1930s shotgun house in Mid-City, the colorful Arabesque restaurant serves Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Latin and locally inspired cuisine to its numerous patrons. Owned by executive chef Sandra Bahhur and her husband, sommelier Luis Bernhard, Arabesque is a project that underwent more than its fair share of hardships. The couple had purchased the building in December 2004 and immediately began renovating it. When the building was 90 percent finished, however, Hurricane Katrina hit the city and the building lost “all the equipment and a significant part of the renovations.” Several months later the couple decided to persevere and continue with the restaurant concept.

In November 2007, the restaurant officially opened for business and in the last year, Arabesque has become a destination for couples on dates, professionals, families and “people who like something different,” says Bernhard. “The tapas are very popular and the Caribbean style redfish wrapped in a banana leaf,” are favorites, he says, adding that the pomegranate glazed lamb chops are a signature dish that diners should try.

Information, 127 N. Carrollton Ave, 486-7233www.arabesque-nola.com. Mr. Ed’s latest
Dining EditorialMr. Ed’s Creole Grille, located in Metairie, opened in March of 2008 as the newest venture by Ed McIntyre, the brains behind Austin’s Restaurant and Mr. Ed’s Seafood & Italian Restaurant. The latest addition to the trio of restaurants serves homemade-style soups, salads, burgers, poor boys and a daily chef’s special.

“It’s a classic New Orleans menu,” explains front house manager Dave Kaufman.
Mr. Ed’s Creole Grille appeals to all ages, says Kaufman. “Our regular clientele as well as newcomers are drawn in by our reputation for good food and great service,” he adds.

The changing “eclectic chef specials” by executive chef Vincent Manguno, Kaufman says, are always popular.

The restaurant is unique, he says, because it’s an old-school menu and a welcoming food and dining experience in Metairie. The restaurant’s interior features local artwork and soft lighting, and jazz music plays in the background.
Information, 5241 Veterans Blvd., Metairie;  889-7992.