Restaurant Insider: … And We Liked It!
Rib Room, Chophouse New Orleans and The Soda Shop at the World War II Museum
When I was a lad, September was the month in which school started. It was a clear mark that summer was over and cooler weather was at least on the horizon. These days school starts a lot earlier, or at least it seems that way to me, and the weather is hotter, too. Also, what’s with all these teenagers and their rock ’n’ roll music? I have half a mind to swing my cane at them, I’ll tell you.
Chef Rene Bajeux’s tenure at the Rib Room (621 St. Louis St.), located in the Omni Royal Orleans hotel at the corner of St. Louis and Royal streets, is a great way to experience one of the best lunch deals New Orleans has ever seen. When he helmed the kitchen at Rene Bistrot, the chef offered a three-course prix-fixe lunch menu that changed daily and was always outstanding. He has brought the deal back at the Rib Room, and added dinner to the mix: $25 ($35 at dinner) will get you three courses, such as petite lump crabmeat salad with a creamy remoulade; chicken “Grand Mere” with onions, mushrooms, bacon and au jus; and white chocolate bread pudding; or organic tomato gazpacho with Gulf shrimp; sautéed black drum with roasted potato and asparagus salad in a lime emulsion; and creamy cheesecake with a caramel sauce drizzle. All of that is in addition to the classic Rib Room menu. Learn more by calling 529-7046. The Rib Room is open daily from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
I was a fan of Restaurant Cuvée, and I was sad to see it close after many years in an elegant space adjacent to the St. James Hotel. The space is now occupied by Chophouse New Orleans (322 Magazine St.), a steak house opened by Tulane University alumni Barbara and Jerry Greenbaum. The restaurant was renovated, though not dramatically.
One noteworthy addition is a private courtyard where patrons can smoke post-dinner cigars.
The menu is fairly traditional for a steak house, with USDA Prime beef the center of attention, but there are a few seafood items that look promising as well. The appetizer portion of the menu features crab bisque, boiled shrimp in cocktail or remoulade sauce, and a “colossal” lump crab cocktail. Redfish Amandine, broiled or fried nine-ounce lobster tails and, from Nov. 15 to May 15, Florida stone crabs are available as entrées. Still, as you’d expect, steak’s the thing at Chophouse. Items like the chilled Carpaccio, broiled Filet Mignon, Bone-in Rib Eye and a 40-ounce Porterhouse should satisfy even the most intense beef cravings.
The restaurant is open from 5 p.m. daily, though one would hope they’ll start lunch service at some point. For reservations or more information call 522-7902 or check out the restaurant’s website, ChophouseNola.com. Complimentary valet parking is available.
Chef John Besh has expanded his operations at the National World War II museum by opening The Soda Shop. With stools salvaged from Krauss department store, customers can order sodas in flavors such as melon, pineapple and nectar in vintage one-quart seltzer bottles; house-made ice creams and milkshakes in flavors such as bananas Foster, Sector candy bar crunch and Creole cream cheese red velvet are also available. Sandwiches, soups, breakfast items and sweets round the menu out. The Soda Shop is located in The National World War II Museum (945 Magazine St.) at the corner of Andrew Higgins Drive. It is open daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Call 528-1944 to learn more.