RESTAURANT INSIDER

Mike Fennelly and Vicky Bayley, who together had one of the best restaurants in the city in the early 1990s with Mike’s on the Avenue, are reuniting with a new restaurant, right, Mike’s East-West (628 St. Charles Ave., 523-7600),  in the same space that housed their former operation. Fennelly’s cooking has always had an Asian influence, but the menu at Mike’s East-West will take it a step further.

The restaurant will have a sushi bar with space for 12 that Fennelly will man himself, and the menu will include items such as banana-leaf braised pork sliders; crawfish and scallop potstickers with a bacon and spinach salad; skirt steak with oyster sauce; and five-spice carrot cake.

The restaurant will be open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and for dinner Monday through Saturday from 5:30 to 10:30. “Small plates” will be available between lunch and dinner service.

Mike’s on the Avenue was a great restaurant, and I’m optimistic that Fennelly and Bayley will make Mike’s East-West another success. “Fusion” cuisine is often a mish-mash of flavors and ingredients that don’t work well together, but Fennelly always had a deft touch and I have no reason to believe that won’t be the case with his new place.

Jackson (1910 Magazine St., 522-5766, www.jacksonnola.net), below, has re-opened. The restaurant occupies the space that formerly housed Sugar Magnolia’s, and while the menu isn’t quite as ambitious as it once was, it’s still pretty good. Jackson is the kind of place you could take folks who are intimidated by “fine dining,” and find something to suit just about everyone’s taste.

There is a good appetizer the menu bills only as Melted Cheese that features andouille, green onions, mozzarella and jack cheeses with chiles. It is served with thick tortilla chips and it’s as addictive as the best queso dip you’ll ever have. The Caviar Pie suffered from an abundance of raw green onions, but I’d imagine the kitchen will catch on to that lapse before long.

Entrées include a spinach gnudi dish served in plenty of brown butter with sage. It was very rich, but pretty good for a kitchen that also serves jerk-roast chicken and grilled baby back ribs. There are multiple sandwiches on the menu, including a few poor boys, as well as a grilled filet mignon which you can get with gorgonzola cheese.

On Wednesday nights, the kitchen puts on a four-course meal that includes Moroccan specials. For $40 you choose a soup, a salad, one of four entrées and a dessert, along with a bottle of wine – that’s for two, by the way. Jackson is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Both A Mano (870 Tchoupitoulas St., 208-9280) and Le Foret (129 Camp St., 553-6738) are open for lunch. A Mano, a regional Italian restaurant, and Le Foret, which marries classic French technique to local ingredients, were two of the best restaurants to open in New Orleans in 2009, and if you haven’t checked them out, lunch may be the perfect opportunity to do so.

Questions? Comments? Suggestions? E-mail Peyton: rdpeyton@gmail.com.
 

Categories: Dining Features, Restaurant Insider, Restaurants