A new tropical roadhouse restaurant from chef Sophina Uong and her husband/partner William Greenwell, dubbed Mister Mao, features a static menu of eclectic globally-inspired cuisine, along with an ever-changing selection of small plates served from roving carts. Dishes include “Escargot Wellingtons” with Creole cream cheese, hoisin and ramp butter; Louisiana “Backwater Foie Duck Ham and Raclette Croissant” with muscadine agrodolce; “Pani Puri” with Camellia red beans, tamarind and fiery mint water; and “Red Cooked Beef Shin” with ugly potato dumplings, star anise and MaLa cucumber gremolata. There is a bar and lounge that seats 25, a vibrant and lively dining room and an interactive chef’s counter. 4501 Tchoupitoulas St., 345-2056, mistermaonola.com.
Opening in September in the Warehouse District, the 238-room Virgin Hotel New Orleans has tapped award-winning local chef Alex Harrell to helm the hotel’s signature restaurant, lounge and bar, Commons Club. Harrell served as executive chef at Elysian Bar – which, under his tutelage, earned a Best New Restaurant nomination by the James Beard Foundation. Commons Club will serve as the social epicenter at the entrance of the hotel, and it will feature Harrell’s creative and modern American cuisine with a Southern touch. 550 Baronne St., Commonsclub.com/new-orleans.
Beat the Heat
A number of new ice creams are now available in New Orleans. First up is the new Creole Creamery location in Old Metairie. The ice creams are made daily and combine unique and delicious flavors that reflect the tastes of New Orleans. Fan favorites include Cookie Monster, cafe au lait, Creole Cream Cheese and lavender honey. Next up is the new Popbar, a contemporary concept in the French Quarter serving all-natural, handcrafted, fully customizable gelato and sorbetto on a stick. Guests will find more than 60 rotating flavors, from classics like vanilla and pistachio to the more unique, such as green tea, passion fruit and spicy chocolate, plus seasonal flavors like watermelon and pumpkin pie. Popbar also offers vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free and soy-free options. Finally, La Boulangerie has started offering fresh ice creams and sorbets made with produce from small local farms. 2565 Metairie Road, Ste. 104, 354-8069, creolecreamery.com; 207 N. Peters St., Ste. 2B, 354-8822, pop-bar.com; 4600 Magazine St., 269.3777, laboulangerienola.com.
Alto, the rooftop bar at the Ace Hotel, has undergone a refresh with new chairs and cushions, plus a new summer menu. The space, which has been newly activated, now features all kinds of programming for the summer season to create more of a community vibe. New weekly events include Monday industry swim days for hospitality workers, Thursday night food pop-ups, Saturday DJ sets and Sunday brunch. A new summer food menu features items like spring artichoke hummus, a number of different pizzas, chicken wings and more. Meanwhile, the new beverage menu includes a Paloma, a daily frozen drink and the purple Ube frozen cocktail. 600 Carondelet St., 900-1180, acehotel.com/neworleans.
During the pandemic, executive chef Michael Nelson at GW Fins, a seafood-forward restaurant in the French Quarter, resolved to innovate seafood. He decided to try out dry aging fish, a decades-old tradition for Japan’s sushi chefs. One of the only chefs in the United States to use a temperature- and humidity-controlled environment to dry age fish, Nelson has received an overwhelming response from guests. He started off dry aging tilefish, which he says has a watery consistency and skin that one would never want to eat. After just five days in the dry-aging cabinet, the flavor of the fish was dramatically more pronounced with crispy, almost cracklin’-like skin. Since then, he has also dry aged everything from one of the finest fish in the world (Ora King Salmon) to swordfish, snapper and more. Nelson also has started FaceTiming with fishers, spear-fishers and purveyors every morning to hand-select the exact fish that he wants delivered to GW Fins. 808 Bienville St., 581-3467, gwfins.com.