Restaurant Insider

Oasis Specialty Foods (541 Oaklawn Drive), right, has opened in Metairie and features a small market that stocks Middle Eastern standards such as dried herbs, beans, nuts, cheese, yogurt and olive oils, as well as imported canned goods and frozen prepared foods. A bakery turns out breads and doughnuts, and a full-service butcher offers half or whole lambs and baby goats that are cut on the premises. A small kitchen serves sandwiches, pizzas and plates to go or to eat in a small dining room. Try the lamb and spinach plate: tender chunks of lamb shoulder combined with spinach in a stew flavored with lemon and garlic. The chicken and cauliflower kabesh features chicken braised in a light tomato broth with cauliflower and rice. Oasis is open every day 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Call 267-1234 for more information.

Not far from Oasis, Cyrus (612 Veterans Blvd.), right, opened in early January. The food is mostly grilled, and owner Hasan Seraji says he’s trying to keep things on the healthy end of the spectrum. Starters include Kashkeh Bademjan: eggplant in a mix of garlic and onion, topped with homemade yogurt and caramelized shallots; Mirza Ghasemi is roasted eggplant with onion, garlic, tomato, egg and a little chile that brought some welcome heat to the dish. Fresh yogurt is the focus of two appetizers: Must’ Mousier pairs yogurt with minced shallot, and Must’ Khiar includes cucumber, walnut, raisin and mint. The menu is heavy on kebabs, including versions featuring seasoned ground beef (Koobideh), beef tenderloin, rack of lamb and chicken. Current specials include lamb shank cooked in a tomato sauce and served over dilled rice. Cyrus is open Monday through Thursday 11 a.m.-3 p.m., and for dinner 5:30-9 p.m. On Friday and Saturday they stay open until 10 p.m. Call 309-2477 for more information.

Robert LeBlanc of LRG and Pierre and Leon Touzet of Restaurant Patois have opened Ste. Marie (930 Poydras St.), below. The large, modern space has an industrial feel that’s softened somewhat by the use of lighter shades of purple, orange and brown. Drapery screens the restaurant from the bustle of Poydras Street, further reducing the feel of being in a warehouse. Though the restaurant’s cuisine is described as European, Chef Isaac Toups’ menu is largely French. Escargot in a dark sauce enriched by bone marrow are served atop grilled ciabatta bread with a parsley salad; sweetbreads are served over farro and kale in a tarragon-laced reduction. Braised rabbit garnished with thinly sliced pickled fennel comes over spaetzle; and a thick tuna steak topped with capers, olives and roasted tomatoes is accompanied by tiny fregola pasta. There is an extensive wine list and, in keeping with the current trend, a number of hand-crafted cocktails. Ste. Marie is open seven days a week; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. on Monday through Wednesday, until 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday and 5-11 p.m. on Sunday. Contact them at 304-6988 or visit

Questions? Comments? Suggestions? E-mail Peyton:

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