The Year In Dining

Twelve Best Fully-Emerged New Restaurants Of 2010

I’ve always hated the idea that newly-opened restaurants are the most newsworthy. Or, to go at it the way food magazines do, the only newsworthy restaurants. It’s very clear that few restaurants rev up to their full capacities until they’ve been open at least a few months. After six months to a year, they’re serving much better food much more smoothly than they did when most writers were writing about them.

These restaurants–many of which opened not in 2010 but 2009–have come into their own in recent months. They are the best of the new graduating class of restaurants, you might say, and are ready for your pleasure. You can get to detailed reviews of most of them by clicking on the name.me

1. Le Foret. CBD: 129 Camp. 504-553-6738. Easily the best new restaurant to emerge on the dining scene since Katrina, this new five-star restaurant has imaginative and delicious cooking, a fantastic wine list, a great manager and dining room staff, and the grand dining style many of us thought we’d never see again.

2. Ristorante Carmelo. Mandeville: 1901 US Hwy 190 . 985-624-4844. After twenty-three years in the French Quarter, Carmelo Chirico moved his act to Mandeville, where it instantly became the best place to eat Italian food in that town. Everything from pizza to elaborate Northern Italian dishes.

3. Charlie’s Seafood. Harahan: 8311 Jefferson Hwy. 504-737-3700. The presence of Frank and Marna Brigtsen made the reopening of this ancient Harahan seafood joint a phenomenon, and that threw off the act for a few months. It’s still very busy, but now they have the routine down, and it’s as good a place to eat roll-up-your-sleeves seafood as anywhere else in town.

4. Mike’s On The Avenue. CBD: 628 St Charles Ave. 504-523-7600. After experimenting with a truly bizarre menu for its first few months, Mike’s reverted to the food it made a name with back in the 1990s. It was ahead if its time then; now it’s right on the money.

5. Sazerac. CBD: 123 Baronne, Roosevelt Hotel. 504-648-1200. Only two things keeps the flagship restaurant of the new Roosevelt Hotel from becoming a great restaurant again: the lack of a significant dinner clientele, and a service style and dress code much more casual than it should be. But the food is spectacular.

6. Lake House. Mandeville: 2025 Lakeshore Dr. 985-626-3006. This is the old Bechac’s, which has been many things in recent years. The Lake House is as much a catering facility as a restaurant, but they’re serving lunch and dinner, too. The kitchen won’t win any top awards, but its food is reliably good, and the view of the lake from the Mandeville seawall is romantic and wonderful.

7. Mondo. Lakeview: 900 Harrison Ave. 504-224-2633. Like Charlie’s Seafood, the story here is that a famous local gourmet chef (Susan Spicer) opened a neighborhood place. Blammo! The place is packed. The service still hasn’t quite caught up, the place it too noisy, and the menu a bit over the top. But it seems to be just about leveled off.

8. Katie’s. Mid-City: 3701 Iberville. 504-488-6582. Five years after Katrina shut it down, Katie’s got a new paint job (good-bye, K&B purple) and a twenty-five–percent new menu that moved its food up a notch. After months of nudging everything into place, it’s a great Mid-City neighborhood cafe again.

9. Ruby Slipper Cafe. CBD: 200 Magazine St. 504-525-9355. Not only has this tight corner cafe established itself as one of the most popular places to breakfast in the city, but it’s one of the best at that meal, too. And they just opened a new branch in the CBD that’s too new to include fully on this list. I suspect that will not be true for long.

10. Barcelona Tapas. Riverbend: 720 Dublin. 504-861-9696 . Xavier Laurentino lost his Metairie Spanish restaurant early last year, but shortly after reopened in the former Cafe Volage in Riverbend. The menu is still Spanish and minimal; the service is sub-minimal. But the food is good, and his idea of having a tapas crawl every month is brilliant.

11. Royal House. French Quarter: 441 Royal. 504-528-2601. This is one of a better-than-average chain of tourist-targeted restaurants in the French Quarter. Its aim is clear, right down to the barker in front. But the cooking is good, and the oyster bar and baked oyster dishes are beyond reproach.

12. Sid-Mar’s. Metairie: 3322 N Turnbull Dr. 504-831-9541. The reborn Sid-Mar’s is not physically like the old place, which was blown away by Katrina and forever prevented from moving back to its old lakefront spot. But the food has resumed its former aspect, with all the boiled and fried seafood you need.

Tomorrow: Best French And Italian Restaurants Of 2010.
All previous Year In Dining lists can be viewed here.


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