Restaurant Insider

I was a little disappointed last month that none of you sent me a birthday present. Apparently the fact that I didn’t mention my March birth date was somehow involved. Frankly, I expected more from you people. Don’t let it happen again. I take a medium in snowshoes, by the way. 

MiLa, (Renaissance Pere Marquette Hotel, 817 Common St.), has added a tasting menu to its offerings. As I write this, the menu is eight courses but the number is subject to change. The food at MiLa has gotten some accolades already but at least one aspect of the restaurant hasn’t received the attention it deserves. Jim Kelly, the manager and sommelier, has put together an impressive wine list, with an eye towards pairing with the food of chefs Slade and Allison Vines-Rushing.

What I found impressive about the wine list at MiLa was the diversity in price, varietal and country of origin. Kelly’s got it organized in a progressive form, meaning that each of the categories lists wines that are lighter to more full-bodied in nature and having Kelly or his assistant Stephen Cangelosi there to answer questions or make suggestions is a bonus.

Rene Bajeux, who coincidentally was the former chef at the Renaissance Pere Marquette, has settled comfortably into his new digs at La Provence in Lacombe. He grew up on a farm in the Alsace-Lorraine section of France and although the climate isn’t quite the same, the farm atmosphere must make him feel at home. They’re growing much of the produce used in John Besh’s restaurants, raising chickens, sheep and pigs, and additionally have put in a smokehouse for charcuterie.

Kevin Vizard’s latest eponymous restaurant has opened in the (5015 Magazine St.). The menu is basically identical to what was on offer at his previous location on St. Charles; indeed, the menus and the sign out front still bear a streetcar. That’s a good thing if you’re a fan of Chef Vizard’s deconstructed take on classics like his Carpetbagger Steak, thin slices of beef tenderloin, wrapped around a bit of brie and an oyster, then seared. Also still available is his signature Green Eggs and Ham, which features baby spinach, frisee and a paneéd egg. The restaurant is also now open for lunch Tuesday-Friday, with a largely different menu that features more salad and sandwich choices. Call them for a reservation: 529-9912.

You know how there are some ideas that seem very obvious once you’ve been told about them? How about a Web site that collects menus from area restaurants and puts them online in a database easily searchable by name or zip code? That’s what Sarah Johnson has done at Today’s Menu Online (www.todaysmenuonline.com). The site is a work in progress but it’s already a great place to go if you want to compare menus. If she can keep the momentum rolling, this promises to be a valuable resource.

Questions? Comments? Suggestion? Email Robert Peyton: rdpeyton@gmail.com.

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