One year ago today, Robyn and Chef Eric Cook opened Saint John in the French Quarter. The place was justifiably packed from the beginning and remains so. I have written in the past about sitting at the chefs’ counter, where a sort of culinary ballet takes place as seven men work in a 20-ft-X-24-inch space, each tending to a different task, to execute their crafts with precision and obvious passion, never so much as brushing into one another. The last time I watched this show Cook was among the seven in the kitchen, but he tended mostly to his sauté station, respectfully leaving Chef de Cuisine Darren Porretto at center stage to run the show, which he did with remarkable calm and utter diplomacy while the mechanics of both the kitchen and front-of-the house churned endlessly in high gear around him.

This high-wire action is set against a backdrop of  a brilliant, colorful culinary hero-themed mural and stained glass panels  from the French Quarter’s Deurty Boys studio, black and white photography featuring local music legends, and a menu that demands return visits for extensive exploration.

The foundation of the menu is rooted in 18th century Creole cuisine with complex dishes one might have found on Maw Maw’s Sunday dinner table. Cook said he turned to his extensive collection of vintage cookbooks and family traditions in crafting a Creole menu reflective of the cultural influences—Sicilian, French, Spanish, African, German, and Caribbean—that came together over centuries to underpin New Orleans’ celebrated cuisine. Saint John is serving up our heritage—dishes that are often an all-day (or more) labor to produce.

Two weeks from today (October 20) Saint John and Wild Turkey will team up for a Birthday Dinner.

Guests will be greeted with a welcome cocktail of Rose Mint Red Stinger Tea at 6:30 p.m. Dinner will follow at 7 p.m.

First Course: Charcuterie Plate: House-made Duck Pastrami, Rabbit Liver Mousse, Aged Gouda, Whole Grain Mustard, and Local Honeycomb with Artisan Bread.

  • Pairing: Wild Turkey Longbranch Bourbon.
  • Second Course: Charred Brussels Salad: Gorgonzola, NOLA BBQ Onions, Roasted Pecans and Drunken Cranberry with Pepper-Spiked Sugarcane Vinaigrette.
    • Pairing: Russell’s Reserve 6 Year Rye.
  • Third Course: Smoked Venison Tenderloin, Citrus-Cured Foie Gras with Elderberry and Sage Demi-Glace.
    • Pairing: Wild Turkey Rare Breed Rye.
  • Fourth Course: Creole Cream Cheese Cake, White Chocolate, Spiced Sweet Potato Puree and Mint.
    • Pairing: Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon Milk Punch.

Tickets are $120 per person for the Chef’s Counter, $100 per person for the main dining room and are available here.

The Best Celebration at Saint John and Curing Carina Von Tuna
Jack Stallard aka Carina Von Tuna

Sunday Dos Jeffes Uptown Cigar Bar will host a fundraiser “Cure Carina” benefitting Jack Stallard aka Carina Von Tuna, a popular local drag entertainer (and my neighbor and my daughter’s high school friend), who is battling Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The event will feature raffle prizes, an auction, and live drag performances by The Wigsnatchers and fellow members of the drag community. Recommended donations of $15 will be collected at the door or in advance via Venmo: @jackstallard with name and “Cure Carina” in the description.

That’s it from me. Enjoy the continuing beautiful weather and be kind.