RESTAURANT INSIDER

“Restauration”: Part of the “Lorin lexicon” for the rebuilding and re-emergence of New Orleans’ restaurant industry. In addition to the reopening of numerous restaurants in the metro area (almost 600 to date), an unusually large number of new restaurants – more than 10 and counting – have opened their doors, despite “limited” everything: menus, staff, hours. There are plenty of dining choices, both stalwart and new.
Reopening: A happy, albeit bittersweet, return to our culinary landscape, Dickie Brennan’s Steak House reopens April 21, serving USDA Prime Steaks. Sadly, however, they open without the culinary talents of executive chef Gus Martin, who has relocated to Texas. Joaquin Martinez, a veteran member of the culinary team, takes on the mantle of head chef.
Found: Chef Chris Brown of Pampy’s and Metro Bistro fame is now the executive chef at Roux Bistro in the Downtown Sheraton New Orleans Hotel. His lunch entrée of perfectly tender grilled quail glossed with a cane-sugar-and-citrus glaze is set upon an earthy, homey-tasting bed of dirty rice.
New but still getting the pots dirty, so to speak: Jackson, 7 on Fulton, Azul and Vizard’s on the Avenue, to name a few. Notable menu items include shrimp and andouille stuffed in Napa cabbage at Jackson; “Foie Gras in a Jar” and white-truffle “tater tots” at Vizard’s; and the lunch entrée of smothered rabbit in Creole-mustard sauce, andouille-cornbread stuffing and green beans, or the dinner appetizer of foie gras bonbons with red-pepper jelly, plantains and aged-vinegar gastrique from 7 on Fulton. Azul is an Asian/Cuban fusion restaurant melding two cultures and cuisines as in their ropa vieja – shredded skirt steak braised in a garlic sauce of fresh tomatoes and sliced onions and served in a tropical plantain basket with jasmine rice, or the crispy Chino-Latino calamari.
Coming soon: Donald Link’s newest restaurant is Cochon. An early menu tasting included a cache of contemporary, Louisiana-inspired dishes including crispy fried chicken livers with pepper-jelly toast, spoon bread with okra and tomatoes, and link sausage with stone-ground grits and peppers. The Warehouse District restaurant will open this month.
Dishes and drinks I insist you try: Fried squash blossoms at Fire, A Restaurant
• The Rib Room’s sautéed seafood platter – jumbo shrimp, gulf fish, and a sweet and meaty crab cake on wilted spinach, surrounded by a lemony-buttery meuniere sauce
• Coq au vin and the not-too-tart or -sweet “Lilette Rouge” cocktail with muddled orange and lime, Lillet Rouge, and Champagne over ice at Lilette
• Escargots Bourguignonne with shiitake mushrooms and Roquefort crostini at Table One
• The “Ragin’ Nagin,” a blend of Stoli vanilla, white and dark Godiva liqueurs, and cream, with a shaved-chocolate and vanilla-bean garnish, at La Cote Brasserie’s bar in the Marriott Renaissance Arts Hotel. •

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