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Fall into Something New

Chef Tom Wolfe opened the doors to his new restaurant mid-September, having revamped the former Peristyle in a manner better reflecting his unique style and verve. The new iteration is called, simply enough, Wolfe’s, and it heralds a return to the style of cuisine that won him accolades with his former flagship Wolfe’s of New Orleans, which was deluged by the failure of the 17th Street Canal. Happily for us, he has a new flagship now and fans can rest assured he’s going to have a good time with it.

“When you come in you will see influences from everywhere I have been in my career,” says Wolfe. “You will see a little bit of Wolfe’s in the Warehouse, Peristyle and my restaurant lost in [Hurricane] Katrina.”

The fall menu will feature highlights such as Smoked Duck Pastrami and Rocket Salad, jazzed up with spiced pecans, port-roasted shallots and dressed in a pomegranate and raisin vinaigrette. Entrées such as Duck Duck Goose – duck slow-roasted in Steen’s cane syrup and topped with seared foie gras and duck sausage then finished with a dried cherry and  tarragon duck demi-glace – ratchet up the indulgence quotient. Additionally, he’ll be offering a small plates menu with highlights such as Crispy Fish Tacos with smoked shrimp, mango and roasted corn salsa. Braised Kobe-style short ribs come with fried mayo, onion chutney and potato chips made in-house. If this seems too rich, try something lighter without forgoing the decadence with dishes like his Lobster and Caviar Sausage on a crabmeat and cabbage slaw with Louisiana Satsuma, chive-infused crème fraîche and brioche croutons. Wolfe’s wide range of influences is reflected in other dishes like his Asian Beef Satay with a frisée and melon relish and sweet ginger and scallion dipping sauce.

With a respectful nod to Anne Kearney, a few legacy dishes from Peristyle remain on the menu. These include an appetizer of herbed Louisiana Crabmeat Salad atop a bed of pickled red onions and chilled beets dressed with a horseradish emulsion, along with her Tuna a la Anne, an inventive dish which pairs seafood with an ultra-rich demi-glace. Tasting menus are available with or without wine pairings, and complimentary valet parking is offered as well.

Down on Decatur Street, Café Giovanni recently introduced a new lounge menu for the adjacent Belli Baci bar featuring upscale snacks such as meatball sliders with Italian fries and Asiago-stuffed fried black olives. This compliments other more traditional offerings such as Shrimp and Grits and a chilled seafood martini.

Augment the small plates with a drink during happy hour: a bar special featuring three appetizers from the regular menu plus a glass of wine or cocktail is just $22.99. Happy hour is from 5:30 to 7 p.m. daily, and validated parking is available at Premium Parking (716 Iberville St.).

Muriel’s Jackson Square will be celebrating Louisiana oysters this month with a special 4-course Table d’hôte menu. Executive Chef Gus Martin will be firing up a trio of oysters baked on the half-shell in three New Orleans styles: Muriel’s, Bienville, and Rockefeller. This course is followed by oyster chowder featuring fresh corn, bacon, new potatoes and leeks. Seared Pork Tournedos come on a bed of oyster dressing. A portion of the sales from this special menu will go to promote the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board, which is dedicated to
working directly with fisherman to promote the importance of our local seafood industry. For reservations or more information, call 568-1885 or visit www.muriels.com.

If you are lamenting the lack of local availability of luxurious ingredients such as fresh foie gras, there are solutions. The online extensions of retailers such as Hudson Valley Foie Gras and D’Artagnan offer all sorts of delicious indulgences that are otherwise hard to find. The duck-centric offerings of Hudson Valley Foie Gras include top-of-the-line Grade A foie gras lobes. An applewood smoked Duck Breast goes great on a party platter or sandwiches, and terrines and mousses are available as well. My personal favorite here is the two-pound bucket of duck fat, which transforms humble potatoes into manna from heaven when used for deep-frying. And, at just $12.50 a bucket, this is a pretty good deal.

The scope of D’Artagnan’s offerings is much wider, encompassing a variety of specialty meats such as boar, wild turkey and goose. Truffles and cured meats are also available, as is Wagyu beef. Both stores offer gift certificates, perfect for friends and relatives with gourmet appetites. Keep in mind that if you are ordering perishables, the shipping costs can add up quickly. Ordering with a friend to split costs makes sense.

Also neat is Whole Spice (www.wholespice.com), which offers good deals on hard-to-find herbs and spices. Their exotic Harissa blend goes great with chicken, redfish and lamb, and unusual ingredients like powdered soy sauce and granulated honey will work wonders for dry rubs and marinades.

The Guinness Ice Cream at Martinique Bistro on Magazine Street is as creamy and delicious as its namesake stout.
Café Giovanni | 117 Decatur St. | 529-2154
D’Artagnan | www.dartagnan.com
Hudson Valley Foie Gras | www.hudsonvalleyfoiegras.com
Martinique Bistro | 5908 Magazine St. | 891-8495
Muriel’s Jackson Square | 801 Charters St. | 568-1885
Whole Spice | wholespice.com
Wolfe’s | 1041 Dumaine St. | 593-9535

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