As we enter the summer months, keep in mind that June dining has a lot to offer. This is the time of year we begin to see special prix fixe menus popping up around town as restaurants prepare for the summer slowdown. They start tweaking their lineups, offering good deals on lunch and dinner. If you plan accordingly, you can get some good meals at a great price at some of the city’s top restaurants. Just keep in mind that some evening deals are only offered for limited hours and lunch specials only on specific days.
Bacco and Red Fish Grill
Starting June first, diners can enjoy Bacco’s “Ciao Down at Sundown,” a special summer menu offering a three-course dinner for just $25. The trick here is timing; it’s only available from 5:30 to 7:30 pm, so be sure reserve seats accordingly.
Appetizers include their refreshing Lemon Parmesan Salad brightened with a citrusy dressing and freshly-grated Parmesan-Reggiano Cheese. For entrées, try the Bacco Shrimp, a take on the idiosyncratic New Orleans classic barbeque shrimp. In this case, the buttery sauce is dressed up with Abita Amber beer, rosemary and garlic. For diners wanting something less brawny and more refined, you can’t go wrong with the Lobster Ravioli entrée finished with caviar and champagne-butter sauce. Wind up your meal with a slice of Lemon Ice Box Pie.
Red Fish Grill also offers a $25 three-course dinner menu and their special runs all night long; just make sure to request the Summer Chilling & Grilling Menu when you’re seated. The Oysters en Brochette is a good way to start the meal; hickory-smoked oysters and bacon drizzled with a lemony meuniere sauce make for a tempting combination. Entrées include Redfish Creole and a Garlicky Grilled Gulf Shrimp. Finish up with a cool and refreshing slice of Key Lime Pie. Both the Bacco and Red Fish grill specials run through the end of August.
Bayona’s 18th Anniversary is just around the corner, which means that its annual Anniversary Lunch Menu is about to begin as well. Starting June 25, on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays diners can enjoy 18-cent martinis and a special three-course lunch featuring Bayona soup or salad along with a choice of entrée for just $18. If you’ve been craving Susan Spicer’s delicious garlic soup, this is all the reason you need to go. Choices for the main course include her Mixed Grill, Pasta de Jour and Fresh Fish De Jour. House-made ice cream and sorbets are available as well.
Early diners can take advantage of a $30 three-course “Prelude” dinner
special, for the 6 p.m. seating only, which runs Monday through Thursday. Entrée choices for this deal include Grilled Duck Breast with a pepper-jelly glaze and Peppered Lamb Loin with herbed goat cheese and a
zinfandel sauce. If you can’t wait until the 25th, Bayona offers an ongoing Saturday light lunch with three small plates for just $25.
Seafood lovers will find plenty to love at Grand Isle, the sleekly elegant seafood destination along the Fulton Street corridor. Starting at the end of June, Grand Isle will offer a special Tarpon Rodeo menu all month long featuring four courses for one price. Expect the dishes to highlight some of Louisiana’s famous game fish, paired with other items such as their barbeque shrimp. Some of Grand Isle’s other standout dishes include Turtle Stew, which is enriched with them addition of oxtail, giving it a complexity that sets it apart for other versions around town. Good appetizers include the Grand Oysters, prepared with well-seasoned Tasso, spicy Jalapeño peppers and Monterey Jack cheese. The Potted Crab, lump local crabmeat prepared with shallot butter, is also popular. Chilled seafood options include marinated blue crab claws punched up with garlic and crushed red pepper. Paired with a crisp Chablis, this makes for a perfect combination for alfresco dining in the late afternoon. Diners seeking something other than seafood will enjoy the Duck Debris poor boy, dressed with coleslaw and pickles.
Chef Bob Iacovone has a reputation for mixing it up at Cuvée, where his high-low reimagining of comfort foods can result in neat surprises like his Kobe Meatloaf Sliders. Diners here can enjoy a three-course prix fixe lunch menu for $24. The menu changes week to week but some recent dishes included a Basil-Crusted Sea Bass accompanied by peppadew hash and Louisiana citrus vinaigrette. His tasty Spiced Shrimp Napoleon, made with a mirliton, remoulade and cayenne beurre blanc
is one appetizer that stays on the menu. Recent desserts included a Brown Butter Sticky Cake, drizzled with Louisiana strawberry syrup and served with vanilla ice cream.
Come in later for the dinner menu to really see Iacovone show off his imagination. In “The Duck” the namesake fowl gets deconstructed, resulting in paired components made up of Steen’s cane syrup-smoked breast, confit leg and an unctuous Hudson Valley Foie Gras, whose flavor profile is rounded out with a well-paired pear glacé.
Despite his riffing, Iacovone offers a serious menu well-grounded in classic techniques. To pull this stuff off, a chef has to know all the rules before he breaks them, and Iacovone accomplishes this. Also serious is the highly regarded wine list.
Wolfe’s in the Warehouse
At Wolfe’s in the Warehouse, Chef Tom Wolfe turns out a lunch menu that gently tweaks a lot of familiar standards. His Wolfe’s Shrimp Poor Boy comes dressed with Tabasco-infused lemon aioli and spicy pickles and his Petite Louisiana Crab Cakes break new ground with its black bean and mango salsa, sweet red curry
butter sauce and Cilantro-infused sour cream. But it’s really with dinner that Tom Wolfe struts his stuff, offering up a menu that finds inspiration in national rather than just regional ingredients and methods. He uses a dry-rub to season his Grilled Southwest Ribeye Steak and his Baked North American Lamb T-Bones are
flavored with a traditional Dijon-mustard slather and accompanied by sweet potato spatzle and roasted apples scented with sage. If you can’t make up your mind, a chef’s tasting menu is offered daily, highlighting the best of what Tom Wolfe has to offer.
While lunch isn’t served at the urbane Pelican Club on Exchange Place in the French Quarter, their dinner menu offers up a lot of good choices. Their Louisiana Cioppino makes for a nice alternative to a court bouillon and comes loaded with shrimp, mussels, clams, gulf fish and scallops. Their Roasted Norwegian Salmon comes
finished with a ginger and honey glaze along with lump crabmeat dressing in a citrus vinaigrette. The Pelican Club plans to offer a three-course dinner for $25 later in the summer.