Enlightened by Nirvana’s cuisine
In 1982, Har and Anila Keswani opened their first Indian restaurant, Taj Mahal, in Metairie. Since then, the Keswani family has operated three other Indian restaurants in New Orleans: Keswani’s in Uptown Square, Shalimar in the French Quarter and, since 1999, Nirvana, situated on a bustling block Uptown on Magazine Street.
All the recipes within Nirvana are the late Har Keswani’s originals. He had begun his cooking career in eastern India at the age of 17. When he came to the U.S. years later, his skills took flight and success soon followed.
Today, Har and Anila Keswani’s son, Anjay, is the proud owner of Nirvana, which he calls his “baby.” “It was always my dream to carry on my late father’s legacy of bringing Indian culture to New Orleans through food,” he says.
The restaurant mainly serves Northern Indian cuisine. It has a Tandoor oven, and delicacies on the menu include Chicken Tikka and Malai Kebab, as well as an extensive list of vegetarian items.
The recipes have been perfected over the years, and Nirvana has outdoor seating as well as a banquet room for special occasions.
Information, 4308 Magazine St., 894-9797, www.insidenirvana.com.
MiLa’s Southern Fusion
MiLa Restaurant, located within – and managed under – the Renaissance Pere Marquette Hotel, is a one-of-a-kind eatery featuring Mississippi and Louisiana cuisine “inspired by the memories and tastes of a Southern childhood,” says Erica Normand, a spokeswoman for the restaurant. “MiLa fuses traditional Southern classics with seasonal fresh and surprising ingredients.”
Executive chefs Slade Rushing and Allison Vines-Rushing keep things hot in the kitchen, while local celebrity mixologist Chris McMillian crafts carafes of some of New Orleans’ tastiest beverages at Bar UnCommon.
“Chefs Allison and Slade communicate directly with an exclusive farmer to plan what is to be planted and grown, being the exact ingredient that makes it to the menu and your plate,” Normand says.
The restaurant offers a special $20 prix fixe lunch special as well as a nightly $65 tasting menu. Hip diners are recommended the signature Oyster Rockefeller “Deconstructed” dish. This season, keep an eye out for a Black Truffle Tasting Menu, in the works as of press time.
Information, 412-2580, 817 Common St., www.milaneworleans.com.
A Toast to Tujague’s
Situated in a building that’s more than 200 years old, Tujague’s is the second-oldest restaurant in New Orleans, and among the most iconic places to dine, whether you’re a local or a visitor.
“We cater to all walks of life,” says owner and manager Steve Latter.
Latter’s staff hand-selects fresh produce from the nearby French Quarter market to ensure that diners will receive the highest quality meals. The restaurant, which serves nightly five-course dinners, offers four entrée choices each night.
“Our success comes from keeping a strong tradition going as it’s been from 1856.”
In the style of a French bistro, the restaurant serves signature dishes including broiled brisket with horseradish sauce, chicken bonne femme (incidentally, this number’s not on the menu – you have to ask your waiter for it), along with gumbo, crawfish etoufee and other treats with local flair.
Information, 823 Decatur St., 525-8676, www.tujaguesrestaurant.com