Restaurant Updates: From the Circle to the Lake

Chef Chris Lynch came to my attention when Meson 923 opened a while back. He was in charge of an ambitious kitchen at the now-closed Warehouse District spot, and I thought it was odd when he turned up at a 24-hour diner in the French Quarter after leaving Meson. I am sorry I never made it over there to see what a guy with his talent was doing in that milieu, but my current plan is to visit Atchafalaya (901 Louisiana Ave.), where Lynch was recently named executive chef, to see where he’ll take the venerable New Orleans-Creole-Southern eatery.

Restaurant Updates: From the Circle to the LakeTivoli & Lee has replaced Tamarind by Dominique in the Hotel Modern (2 Lee Circle). Chef Mike Nirenberg, who most recently had been running a pop-up called “Why Not?” in the same space, is in charge of the kitchen. Nirenberg worked with chef Aaron Burgau at Patois and Oak Wine Bar and also cooked for a time at the Delachase. At Tivoli & Lee, Nirenberg is cooking modern Southern cuisine, with an emphasis sourcing ingredients from local farms. That isn’t any more unusual than house-made charcuterie these days, but both trends are welcome if the food is good.

Tivoli & Lee is responsible for the food at Bellocq, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that there’s a “snacks” portion of the menu. These include fried Brussels sprouts with pepper jelly, deviled eggs garnished with chicken cracklins and andouille potato tots with Manchego and a green onion crema. The remainder of the menu is divided into soups and salads, small plates, mains, sides and desserts. Items of interest on the first part of the menu include a Caesar salad made with kale, ricotta dumplings with cremini mushrooms, cornmeal-fried oysters with roasted beets, prosciutto, green garlic dressing and a polenta cake with andouille gravy and roasted baby shiitake mushrooms.

There is a duck confit made from locally raised poultry on the mains side of the menu that comes with braised greens, the aforementioned andouille tots and a pomegranate glaze. Pork belly turns up here, too, with Brussels sprouts, pickled greens and a pork jus. The lamb burger is topped with a fried duck egg and mint aioli and comes with fries.

You can get a hot fudge brownie sundae for dessert, as well as a New Orleans Egg Cream – surely influenced by Bellocq – that combines whiskey, orgeat, chocolate and soda.

Tivoli & Lee is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Call 962-0909 to learn more or to make a reservation.

There was a time when Lakeshore Drive was a great place to take the family for a meal overlooking Lake Pontchartrain. While the area has yet to regain the life it once had, it’s a promising sign that a few restaurants are re-opening on the water. One of these is The Blue Crab Restaurant & Oyster Bar (7900 Lakeshore Drive), which should have opened by the time you read this column. Like most of the restaurants that have called the lakefront home, the Blue Crab is raised and it has outdoor seating. As befits the name, seafood – local seafood – is the specialty here.

The restaurant doesn’t have a phone number yet, but you can check to learn more. By the time you read this, a phone number should be listed. Currently the restaurant’s website lists its hours of operation as Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 3 a.m. I am skeptical that any restaurant that doesn’t have an address in the French Quarter is going to stay open until 3 a.m. on a weeknight, or that the Blue Crab won’t be open on the weekend, but again, check the website to get a definitive answer.

Restaurant Updates: From the Circle to the LakeCafé Reconcile (131 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd.) underwent an extensive renovation that took a bit longer than expected, but resulted in an impressive expansion to the restaurant’s kitchen, dining room and banquet space. The café is only a part of the service that Reconcile New Orleans, Inc. provides to at-risk youth in New Orleans, but it’s probably the most high-profile. The foundation’s goal is to provide training to kids who might otherwise slip through the cracks. Lots of people talk about how “education” is the key to solving the problems of inner-city youth violence – Reconcile is actually effecting change.

The restaurant is known for serving New Orleans-style food at prices far below what the quality would otherwise dictate. Daily plate specials include the obligatory red beans on Monday, but diners rave about the white beans and shrimp that’s served on Thursdays. The restaurant’s motto is “feed your soul,” and there are few better places in the city to do that while also satisfying your appetite.

Café Reconcile is, as of this writing, open for lunch only, Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Call 568-1157 to find out about what they’re serving today.

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