The Intercontinental Hotel is one of the best in town, but for too long it hasn’t had a real restaurant. That changed with the opening of Trenasse in late November. It is the second restaurant for chef-owner Jim Richard, who also operates Stinky’s Fish House in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida.
Trenasse has an odd vibe, at once country-casual and upscale. It is the sort of place where you can hear the Grateful Dead on the sound system while eating a blue crab stuffed squash with smoked jalapeño rouille. Speckled trout meuniere shares the menu with “Stinky’s Stew,” which features shrimp, oysters, mussels, fresh fish and crab in a basil-butter broth.
The space is full of interesting artistic touches, from blonde wood paneling in the ceiling to paintings that border on sculpture by Florida artist; the place looks good. There are entrances just off St. Charles Avenue as well as from the hotel lobby, both of which converge on a bar before leading to a long, narrow dining room. As I write a banquet room is in the works, and of course the hotel has ample space for catered events.
Richard is an alumnus of Commander’s Palace, and while Trenasse does have a bit of his casual Florida restaurant on display, the overall impression is one of sophistication. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner daily, and by the time you read this should also offer brunch service. Trenasse is located at 444 St. Charles Ave.; you can call 680-7000 to make reservations.
1000 Figs started as a food truck called the Fat Falafel. From that relatively humble start owners Theresa Galli and Gavin Cady have expanded dramatically, with a menu that, while still small, offers a lot more than the chickpea and fava bean fritters.
The food has a Mediterranean feel – flatbread, hummus, eggplant, lamb, sesame and yogurt make regular appearances – but my favorite so far is the raw kale salad with grilled squid. The kale is sliced thinly enough that it isn’t difficult to chew, and the tender squid, marked by the grill, is delicious.
The restaurant is located just up a flight of stairs, in the space that formerly housed a branch of Maple Street Books. It isn’t big, but it’s got an open feel. Tables made for the place have drawers at each end holding silverware and napkins. There is no liquor license as I write, but that’s easily remedied with a visit to Swirl, and at least at the moment there’s no corkage fee.
1000 Figs is located at 3141 Ponce de Leon St., just off Esplanade Avenue, and you can reach them at 301-0848. It is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays.
Kebab serves a very specific food – sandwiches inspired by a Turkish dish as interpreted by folks in Germany. There are three sandwiches on the standard menu: Doner Kebab, a hugely popular street food in German cities, which tend to have large populations of Turkish immigrants. At Kebab it’s made with chicken thighs roasted on a vertical spit, garnished with pickled cucumbers, cabbage and red onions and dressed with a garlic aioli and mustard in house-made bread that’s similar to, but thicker than, pita. Chappapeela Farms pork is similarly spit-roasted and thinly sliced for the gyro, which comes with the same vegetables, tzatziki and a spicy cilantro-based sauce called skhug. Falafel rounds out the choices, and at Kebab it’s accompanied by hummus and more of the tzatziki sauce, as well as arugula, kale, spinach, red onions, pickled cucumbers and beets.
There is no liquor license, but so far as I know, Kebab is the only restaurant in New Orleans at which you can get coconut water from a whole, young coconut. The kitchen puts out a few specials in addition to the regular menu; Italian sausage and taro soup was available on one visit, along with a homemade lamb pastrami with caraway sauerkraut, beets, horseradish sauce and mustard.
Kebab is located at 2315 St. Claude Ave., and is open Fridays through Mondays from 11 a.m. until midnight. They deliver ($20 minimum) within biking distance. Call 383-4328 to find out more.