Link’s Latest, Vega’s Sizzles and What's New on Freret
I have been writing this column long enough that I’m starting to run out of ideas for clever opening sentences tied to a specific month. What is that you say? I have never had a clever idea for an opening sentence yet, so why break the streak, and also I’m ugly and I smell of expired yogurt. Well, friend, I’m as God made me. And that’s not expired yogurt, it’s expired Greek yogurt, which my infant daughter vigorously distributed through our home recently in a fit of pique. But enough about my appearance and odor; there’s restaurant news to which you should attend. To wit:
Chefs Donald Link, Stephen Stryjewski and Ryan Prewitt are opening Peche Seafood Grill (800 Magazine St.) this month at the corner of Julia and Magazine streets in the Warehouse District. The restaurant will focus, as per the name, on seafood – and locally caught seafood at that. The angle here is that much of the cooking will be done over a wood fire. The chefs drew inspiration for the technique from trips to Spain and Uruguay, though one assumes that living in South Louisiana they’ve grilled a freshly caught fish or two over a fire made closer to home once or twice as well.
Prewitt will run the kitchen, and the menu will also include steaks, slow-cooked lamb and locally raised vegetables, with an oyster bar to round things out. Although the restaurant doesn’t, as of this writing, have a phone number, you can likely get in touch by calling Cochon at 588-2123.
One imagines that opening a restaurant in New Orleans these days is, at least in part, about where on Freret Street to put it. Wayfare Deli (4510 Freret St., 309-0069) joins Ancora, High Hat Cafe and Sarita’s in the riverside stretch of Freret Street between Napoleon Avenue and Valence Street. True to the “deli” in the name, the stars of Wayfare’s menu are sandwiches, but with the exception of a Reuben done fairly straight these aren’t your standard deli options. Roast turkey is served with a salsa verde aioli, white cheddar and heirloom tomatoes on a carraway bread. The Knuckle Sandwich – a nod to the restaurant’s former life as a boxing gym – is cold roast beef with shoestring potatoes, arugula and a horseradish sauce on a bun made with pretzel dough. Toasted fennel sausage comes as a round patty topped with peperonata, sharp provolone cheese and a fried egg on a ciabatta bun. The house salad consists of the restaurant’s own mozzarella, tomato, kalamata olives and blood orange. There is also a daily soup, and of course it wouldn’t be a restaurant on Freret Street if the proprietors weren’t curing their own meats and sausages.
Wayfare is open daily, starting at 11 a.m. and closing late.
Mike’s on the Avenue ended its second run in the Lafayette Hotel at the close of 2012. It has been replaced by Desi Vega’s Steakhouse (628 St. Charles Ave., 523-7600, DesiVegaSteaks.com), a second restaurant from the folks who own Mr. John’s Steakhouse. The new operation is very similar, though without most of the Italian dishes that distinguish Mr. John’s from other purveyors of sizzling beef. The menu is steakhouse standard, in other words, which isn’t a bad thing when done properly. At Desi Vega’s, the New York strip, rib-eye, porterhouse and cowboy steaks are USDA prime. The lunch and dinner menus differ in that sandwiches appear during the day and are replaced by lobster and veal chops at night.
Desi Vega’s Steakhouse is the second venture by partners Paul Varisco, Rodney Salvaggio and Desi Vega, the latter of whom has a long history of restaurant service at places such as Commander’s Palace and Emeril’s Delmonico.
Mr. John’s is only open for lunch on Friday, but Desi Vega’s serves lunch Mondays through Fridays from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., and dinner Tuesdays through Saturdays from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. The bar is open until midnight.