Ten Eleven (which also goes by “1011”) opened last week at 1011 Gravier Street. It’s not exactly on the beaten path, but it’s a welcome addition to the CBD, both for food and as a venue for live music.
The restaurant takes over a space that was most recently touted itself as a wine bar and bistro, and before that was a Chinese restaurant. There’s not much evidence of the previous tenants now, though. The current décor is art-nouveau, with a lot of gilt; one wall is taken up by large portraits in the pre-world war one style. A large bar dominates the L-shaped dining room. Tables line the wall facing Gravier Street, and leather couches flank low coffee tables at the other end. The music piped through the sound system when I visited was mainly the sort of “new” classical music that I associate with “New Age” musicians; I recognized one piece as a cover of a Michael Jackson song from the melody played out with pizzicato violins.
The place is already hosting some musical acts; there’s a piano in one corner of the dining room, but there are renovations going on to another, larger room adjacent to the main dining room, where the venue will host larger shows as well as expanding on the current seating.
When I went for lunch recently I stuck to a few small plates. I started with goat cheese fritters, which were outstanding. I am a sucker for fritters, despite the fact that a lot of times ordering the things is like asking your waiter to bring you small, hard balls of grease-sponge, usually with something along the lines of a wasabi-pumpkin aioli. When the batter is light and airy, and the cook is familiar with how to keep the oil at the right temperature, though, there’s nothing better than fried cheese balls. At 1011 the aioli is replaced with a sauce that’s slightly too sweet for the tart goat cheese and the blistered grape tomatoes, but overall the dish was a winner, and one I’d absolutely order again.
The duck meatballs were not quite as good; they’re not described on the menu as “sliders,” but that’s what they are. The coarsely chopped meat comes in a shape that’s more patty than ball, but it was tasty. The menu also lists both a tomato sofrito and an olive puree for the dish; the first was apparent, and good, but if there was an olive puree in the dish, it was well hidden.
I also tried the curried crab tacos. This was another very good dish that, with a tweak or two – could be great. These days finding a taco made with a fried shell is difficult, and usually a sign that the chef is being ironic. At 1011 it’s less irony than playfulness, because the shell for these little tacos is essentially a fried won ton wrapper. The filling is a pale yellow crab salad flavored (mildly) with curry, and garnished with finely diced cucumber, onion and apples. There’s a good bit of tartness going on, but the crab comes through and the overall sensation is one of lightness. Maybe that’s just my rationalization for eating a friend taco stuffed with crab, but I’m okay with that. Rationalization makes the world go ‘round, after all…
There’s a full bar complete with the de rigeur selection of specialty cocktails, and a fairly good selection of wines by the glass.
Bearing in mind that the restaurant has been open less than two weeks, I’m optimistic that it’s going to be a success. Owner KarrieAnn Kubatko took me on a quick tour of the second dining room, which has a stage and looks likely to more than double the available seating. They’ve put a lot of effort into the redesign of the space, and the menu evidences a lot of thought coming from chef Michael Pedranti’s kitchen, too.
The restaurant is open Monday through Thursday from 11:30 to 11, and until 2:00 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. The restaurant’s website http://1011nola.com/ is currently just a placeholder, but you can visit their facebook page https://www.facebook.com/1011Nola/timeline or call 267-3405 t