Featured Dining

The Magic of Muriel’s
With a balcony that overlooks Jackson Square, Muriel’s restaurant offers a nationally recognized, Contemporary Creole menu in the heart of the French Quarter. Liz Goliwas, a marketing consultant with the restaurant, says that Muriel’s appeals to all types of patrons and adds that it’s open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. Muriel’s also offers a jazz brunch on Sundays, featuring Joe Simon’s Jazz Trio.

Goliwas says the main floor of the restaurant offers a bar and two dining rooms that “are home to a warm bistro with an adjoining courtyard.” She says that the building’s exposed brick and nostalgic prints offer a sense of “relaxed spontaneity.” Upstairs, the refinement level rises in the form of two large dining rooms whose furniture and paintings “evoke the atmosphere of an elegant old New Orleans resident.”

Known for its food as much as its atmosphere, Muriel’s is owned by Rick Gratia with Guy Sockrider serving as executive chef and Cara Henderson as pastry chef. Goliwas says that since crawfish is in season this month, one of the specialties to try is the Crawfish and Goat Cheese Crêpes. Other delicacies include the Pecan Crusted Puppy Drum and the BBQ Shrimp.

Information, 801 Chartres St., 586-1885, www.muriels.com.

 

Brigtsen’s celebrates 22 years
This month, Brigtsen’s Restaurant will celebrate its 22nd anniversary. Owned and operated by Frank Brigtsen and his wife, Marna, the restaurant serves Louisiana cuisine in a small Victorian cottage in the Riverbend neighborhood. Open for dinner, Brigtsen’s most popular dishes include Butternut Shrimp Bisque, Roast Duck with Cornbread Dressing and Tart Dried Cherry Sauce. Frank Brigtsen says the seafood platter, which changes with the seasons, is “totally unique. Nothing is deep-fried.”

This month, diners are in for a treat. “March is the best month of the year for Louisiana oysters,” says Frank Brigtsen. “We will be serving, among other things, an appetizer called Gratin of Oysters and Artichokes with Lemon Parmesan Sauce.” He adds that the restaurant will also offer seasonal Crawfish Shortcake, which is crawfish etouffee on a basil and black pepper biscuit. For dessert, he recommends the Louisiana Strawberry Shortcake.

Frank Brigtsen attributes much of the restaurant’s success to his loyal staff, including Marna Brigtsen’s sisters, Rhonda Madach and Sandra Hanson, sous chef Larry Herbert, bartender Rob Weiss and pastry chef Chris Newton. Frank says that 17 out of 20 employees returned post-Katrina and “it is their dedication and hard work that inspires us.”

Information, 723 Dante St., 861-7610.

Say cheese at St. James
How does one become a professional, self-described “cheesemonger”? Well, for Tulane University alums Richard and Danielle Sutton, it took a move to London. They returned to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and they brought with them a new vision. Thus, St. James Cheese Company was created. Situated in a bright and modern setting Uptown, the cheese shop has “filled a neighborhood niche for a casual lunch spot with outdoor seating,” says Danielle. The Suttons’ expertise on cheese is unparalleled in the area; the varieties they offer come from Europe, Canada, Australia and throughout the U.S. The place recently won the award as Best Specialty Shop in New Orleans by this very publication.

The Suttons believe that St. James Cheese appeals to “food lovers, families and wine and cheese happy hour-goers” as well as students, people on casual dates and those on business lunches.

This month, The cheese shop will be offering weekly cheese tastings as well as Thursday night dinners. Danielle Sutton adds that because the lunch trade is much heavier than expected, the shop will be expanding indoor seating this year. Perhaps they will make cheesemongers of us all.

Information, 899-4737, 5004 Prytania St., www.stjamescheese.com

Categories: Dining Features, Restaurants