May is when the hot weather really starts. It also signals the end of the season during which purists can enjoy raw oysters. Since the advent of modern refrigeration, the common justification for eschewing uncooked oysters is no longer valid, and while hot weather does increase the incidence of a bacterium that can cause serious health problems in folks with compromised immune systems, most local restaurants will happily continue to sell you a dozen on the half-shell. To the extent anyone is still concerned about eating Louisiana oysters because of the BP Oil disaster, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals assures you that, with the monitoring and testing programs the industry has in place, Louisiana oysters are definitely safe to eat. I can’t claim to have conducted any independent studies, but I’m comfortable eating raw oysters in May, although I do feel the same sort of twinge I get when I wear seersucker before Memorial Day.
What can I say, I’m a traditionalist about some things.
Restaurant R’evolution (777 Bienville St.) is set to open at the end of the month in the Royal Sonesta hotel. The restaurant is a partnership between John Folse and Rick Tramonto. If you’re not familiar with Tramonto, it’s likely because, to date, his restaurants have been in and around Chicago. Back when my day job as a lawyer had me traveling a lot, I had a chance to eat at one of his restaurants, Tru, and it was superb. John Folse is best known for interpreting Cajun and Creole cooking. Lafitte’s Landing, his restaurant in Donaldsonville, put him on the map, but he’s also deservedly recognized for his namesake cooking school at Nicholls State University.
The pair’s stated goal, to serve modern reinterpretations of Cajun and Creole dishes, sounds ominous. It brings to mind menu items that have been “deconstructed” or “reimagined.” But with chef de cuisine Chris Lusk taking directions from Folse and Tramonto, I’m looking forward to tasting the results. You can contact Restaurant R’evolution at 553-2277. The restaurant plans to serve breakfast from 6:30 to 11 a.m., lunch Mondays through Fridays from 11 to 2 p.m., brunch on Sundays from 11 to 2:30 p.m., and dinner from 5:30 until 10 p.m. on Sundays through Thursdays and until 10:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
It seems like I write an awful lot in this space about chef René Bajeux, but that’s only because he seems to make news an awful lot. The latest is that he has left his position at the Rib Room to reopen René Bistrot in the Renaissance Arts hotel (700 Tchoupitoulas St.) in the Warehouse District. It is a return to the Marriott family for Bajeux, who previously helmed a restaurant by the same name in the Renaissance Pere Marquette hotel in the CBD. The new venture takes over the space that was formerly La Cote Brasserie whose chef, Chuck Subra, recently took the position of executive chef at the JW Marriott on Canal Street, where he’ll oversee food operations for the 496-room hotel and Irvin Mayfield’s jazz club, also housed in the hotel.
Another restaurant has opened in Bywater that looks worthy of attention. Suis Generis (3917 Burgundy St.) – yes, the additional “s” is intentional – opened its doors in March, not far from Maurepas Foods. Ernest Foundas and Adrienne Bell are the co-owners, and theirs is a familiar concept: an ever-changing menu based upon what ingredients are available at any given time. Foundas and Scott Fiddler are the main chefs, and every Monday they sit down with a few other collaborators, including Gabe Salvatore and Stella Piranio, to come up with a menu. Another interesting aspect to the restaurant is that Foundas and Bell invite guest chefs to cook every so often. Foundas told me that because the menu changes so frequently, it’s easy to fit a new chef in for a single night. He likened it to a musician sitting in with a band. So far chefs such as Paul Artigues of Green Goddess and Sue Zemanick of Gautreau’s have taken a turn, and Foundas said they’re talking to others. Suis Generis is open for dinner on Wednesdays and Sundays from 6 to 11 p.m., and on Thursdays through Saturdays from 6 to 1 p.m. Brunch is served Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call 309-7850 to learn more.