Chef Alex Harrell’s career in New Orleans follows some familiar patterns. He started at Bayona, moved to Gerard Maras’ downtown bistro and then worked for Ralph Brennan at Ralph’s on the Park and Table One. He was the chef when Sylvain opened in 2010, and stayed there until the opportunity to open his own place came up in ’14.
That place, Angeline, opened earlier this year in the space formerly occupied by Stella!. The renovation of the space lightened it considerably. Gone are heavy drapes and upholstered chairs; it’s a more casual space now, though I wouldn’t call it casual, exactly.
Harrell is originally from Alabama, and his cooking can best be described as refined Southern, though you’ll see Italian and French influences on the menu as well. Butterbean tortellini with red-eye gravy and Parmesan cheese is one example, as is the Rabbit Milanese, which comes with a smoked carrot purée, spoon bread, bacon, braised collards and a tomato “gravy.”
There is house-made charcuterie, of course, and a custom cocktail menu, but each fits into the overall context of the restaurant, rather than feeling precious or rote.
Angeline is located at 1032 Chartres St. and is open nightly for dinner from 5:30 to 10:30. Call 308-3106 or visit AngelineNola.com to learn more.
The Big Cheezy
When I spoke to Adam York, who with Josh Fogarty owns The Big Cheezy, a restaurant specializing in grilled cheese sandwiches, he said the inspiration for the place came to Fogarty when he was an undergraduate at LSU. He had seen similar restaurants in other parts of the country, and thought it would be a good fit here, too.
The restaurant is located in the first floor of an up/down double on Broad Street, between Tulane Avenue and Banks Street. It isn’t an obvious choice for a restaurant that would seem to appeal more to the college crowd than folks visiting the courthouse, but York told me they’ve been busy since they opened in March.
The concept is simple – start by choosing bread (sourdough, wheat, white, challah or gluten-free) then pick two cheeses from the “classic” or “premium” lists, including cheddar, mozzarella and pepper-jack from the former, and gouda, brie or feta from the latter. It is $5 for a classic and $6 for premium. From there, you can add meats, vegetables, sauces or extras such as a fried egg, olive mix, caramelized onions or hot cherry peppers. Each adds between $.50 and $2 (veggies and meats, respectively) to your total.
There are also a number of specialty sandwiches, as well as soups and salads, and for dessert there are beignets that are split and stuffed with various combinations of fruit and cheese before being grilled.
The Big Cheezy is located at 422 S. Broad St., and their phone number is 302-2598; visit TheBigCheezy.com for the full menu.
Salon by Sucré
Joel Dondis and Tariq Hanna keep expanding their sweet empire. The latest development is something of a departure, as the menu includes savory items. Salon by Sucré opened recently upstairs from another Sucré location, on Conti Street, near the Louisiana Supreme Court building.
The space is a lot larger than you’d imagine from the narrow storefront and includes a balcony overlooking the street. There is a long bar and retail space in the back.
The menu is focused on “high tea,” as are the cocktails, which were developed by Beth McCaskey, who along with Braithe Tidwell was hired from New York City’s Union Square Café. The food tends to be of the small plates variety; “sliderettes” take the concept to the extreme; these are tiny burgers (beef, lamb and tempura crawfish at dinner, just the beef for lunch or tea) the size of meatballs, served on small buns with caramelized onions that come three to an order. They come with excellent fries at lunch, which you can also order at dinner, with the option to add paddlefish caviar.
The dinner menu is much larger, and offers the option of two sizes for each of the savory options. Scallops with olives, bacon and potato dumplings, for example, will set you back $12 for the small plate and $24 for the larger portion. Lobster fettuccine with saffron cream goes for $16 and $30, respectively. Emily Crotty is the chef de cuisine, and from what I’ve tasted, she’s definitely someone to watch.
Salon by Sucré is located at 622 Conti St., and the phone number is 267-7098.