Restaurant Insider: Opening Up

Chef John Besh is opening yet another restaurant. Borgne (601 Loyola Ave.), named for the lake that lies to the east of New Orleans, is Besh’s ninth (depending upon how you count them). Located in the newly reopened Hyatt Regency Hotel, Borgne will be helmed by chef Brian Landry, most recently of Galatoire’s. It is an ambitious space, with 300 seats in a space near the Superdome that has long needed a decent restaurant. Landry, who will be the chef de cuisine, is a talented cook, and while his gifts went largely unrewarded at Galatoire’s, perhaps Borgne is where he’ll show his stuff.

Speaking of Galatoire’s (209 Bourbon St.), the venerable Creole restaurant has named Michael Sichel as its new executive chef. Sichel has a background in classic French cuisine that may allow him to tweak things at the restaurant without upsetting things too much or offending regulars. I certainly hope that’s the case, because while I have always had great meals at Galatoire’s, I know that some folks think the food is secondary to the experience. If Sichel can update some of the standards and bring his inventive take on things to the restaurant, more the better.

The folks behind Crescent Pie & Sausage Company have opened Pizzicare (3001 Tulane Ave.) in Mid-City. It is a spot that was, a few years ago, more or less a wasteland. But with the revitalization of that stretch of Tulane Avenue as a result of the medical complex in the works, Jeff Baron and Bart Bell may just have picked the perfect time to open the closest thing in New Orleans to a New York City pizza shop. The crust is thin, the slices are large, and the toppings range from the ordinary to the esoteric; sure, you can get a pizza with pepperoni, sausage, olives, artichokes and mushrooms, but you can also order the Crescent Sausage Pie, which features Italian, chaurice and andouille sausages made in-house, with mozzarella and red sauce. The chicken and broccoli rabe pie features breaded chicken with the Italian green, and Brussels sprouts show up on another pie with pancetta, roasted garlic and white sauce.

The pizzas are available by the slice for $3, with extra toppings for $.50. In addition to pizzas, calzones and stromboli are also options, and the menu is rounded out by a few salads and items such as pigs in a blanket on a stick made with the same dough used for the pizzas. Pizzciare is is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Call 301-4823 for more information.

Chef Dominique Macquet is set to open Tamarind (936 St. Charles Ave.) in the Hotel Modern (formerly LeCirque Hotel at Lee Circle) this month. Macquet’s eponymous restaurant on Magazine Street was recently named one of the best new restaurants in the country by Esquire Magazine, an honor that Esquire bestowed belatedly, in this writer’s not-so-humble opinion.

Tamarind will feature an innovative menu influenced by Vietnamese cuisine, and Macquet’s long-time sous chef, Quan Tran, will helm the kitchen. I have no idea how so many new and ambitious restaurants have opened in the last couple of years in New Orleans, kids. I can tell you that I don’t anticipate any of them more than Tamarind. Macquet is brilliant, a technician whose imaginative approach to cooking freely incorporates local ingredients and global cuisine.

Vietnamese cooking doesn’t get the respect it deserves among certain local food critics, but it’s one of the world’s great cuisines, and Macquet’s upscale take should be interesting.

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