Curio Reviewed

Curio. French Quarter: 301 Royal St. 504-717-4198. Curio French Quarter: 301 Royal St. 504-717-4198. Map.Nice Casual.AE DC DS MC V Website ANECDOTES AND ANALYSIS It’s getting to be that the Creole Cuisine Restaurant Group almost needs a monthly column of its own. The outfit started with a few daiquiri refreshers on or near Bourbon Street. It began to buy restaurants in the Quarter that they found interesting, most of them casual, inexpensive cafes. When they took over the venerable Broussard’s, CEO Marv Ammari began getting attention. It Creole Cuisine had…

Read On...

Brennan’s. French Quarter: 417 Royal. 504-525-9711.
Contemporary Creole

Brennan’s. French Quarter: 417 Royal. 504-525-9711.

Brennan’s. French Quarter: 417 Royal. 504-525-9711. Brennan’s French Quarter: 417 Royal. 504-525-9711. Map.Dressy.AE DC DS MC V Website ANECDOTES AND ANALYSIS The most interesting and best news from the restaurant beat in the past several years has been the revival of Brennan’s on Royal Street. For those of us who thrive on first-class dining, it was a dramatic dream come true. What was left of the descendants of Owen Brennan lost control of the original Brennan’s, which then went bankrupt. Then Ralph Brennan (Owen’s nephew) and a well-moneyed partner took…

Read On...

Cafe Sbisa. French Quarter: 1011 Decatur St. 504-522-5565 .
Contemporary Creole

Cafe Sbisa. French Quarter: 1011 Decatur St. 504-522-5565 .

Cafe Sbisa French Quarter: 1011 Decatur St. 504-522-5565 . Map.Casual.AE DC DS MC V Website ANECDOTES AND ANALYSIS There’s no other major restaurant that has opened and closed as many times as Cafe Sbisa has. It’s as if there were an imperative in the building that forces it to make a big splash among the dining public, then to wind down over a period of years until it shuts down. After a pause, it comes back with a great new chef (or sometimes an old one), and the place gets…

Read On...

Restaurant Rebirth. Warehouse District: 857 Fulton St. 504-522-6863.
Contemporary Creole

Restaurant Rebirth. Warehouse District: 857 Fulton St. 504-522-6863.

Restaurant Rebirth Warehouse District & Center City: 857 Fulton St. 504-522-6863. Map.Nice Casual.AE DC DS MC V Website ANECDOTES AND ANALYSIS A sort of culinary solar system, with Emeril’s at its center, has wrapped a rich field of restaurants around itself in the Warehouse District. Its The new additions get more and more interesting. The best of them during the past year is Restaurant Rebirth–the fourth eatery to occupy this address. The turnover tells us that just being in the right neighborhood doesn’t guarantee success. But I think that Rebirth…

Read On...

Audubon Clubhouse. Uptown 3: Napoleon To Audubon: 6500 Magazine. 504-212-5282.
Contemporary Creole

Audubon Clubhouse. Uptown 3: Napoleon To Audubon: 6500 Magazine. 504-212-5282.

Audubon Clubhouse Uptown 3: Napoleon To Audubon: 6500 Magazine. 504-212-5282. Map.Casual.AE DC DS MC V Website ANECDOTES AND ANALYSIS A long-running controversy has long attended Audubon Park. I first heard of it when Audubon Zoo was being rebuilt in the early 1970s. At issue: how much of the park should be open grass fields dotted with big old live oak trees, and how much should be used for buildings, exhibits, rides, restaurants, music venues, and the like? The question came up again when the park received another major renovation in…

Read On...

Bistro Orleans. Metairie: 3216 West Esplanade Ave. 504-304-1469.
Contemporary Creole

Bistro Orleans. Metairie: 3216 West Esplanade Ave. 504-304-1469.

Metairie has not often been the home of neighborhood cafes for which New Orleans proper is celebrated. But there are a few such, and they have a way of being fun and good to find. Bistro Orleans is one of these. Taking over a space in a strip mall that has been home for a number of good to superb restaurants over the years, Bistro Orleans has that blend of seafood, sandwiches and Italian food which, with a few daily specials, adds up to the neighborhood flavor. More to come. . .[divider type=""]

Read On...

Ralph’s On The Park. City Park Area: 900 City Park Ave. 504-488-1000.
Contemporary Creole

Ralph’s On The Park. City Park Area: 900 City Park Ave. 504-488-1000.

Ralph’s On The Park City Park Area: 900 City Park Ave. 504-488-1000. Map.Nice Casual.AE DC DS MC V Website ANECDOTES AND ANALYSIS I guess it’s a good thing when the owner of a restaurant is so successful that he starts another one. And another and another and another. Think about John Besh, who in the past year has been involved with the openings of at least six establishments–and who might have three more before Christmas. Think about Ralph Brennan. . . Yes, let’s think about Ralph. His restaurant collection numbers…

Read On...

Restaurant Rebirth. Warehouse District: 857 Fulton St. 504-522-6863.

Restaurant Rebirth Warehouse District & Center City: 857 Fulton St. 504-522-6863. Map.Nice Casual.AE DC DS MC V Website ANECDOTES AND ANALYSIS A sort of culinary solar system, with Emeril’s at its center, has wrapped a rich field of restaurants around itself in the Warehouse District. Its The new additions get more and more interesting. The best of them during the past year is Restaurant Rebirth–the fourth eatery to occupy this address. The turnover tells us that just being in the right neighborhood doesn’t guarantee success. But I think that Rebirth…

Read On...

Coquette. Garden District: 2800 Magazine. 504-265-0421.

Coquette Uptown 1: Garden District & Environs: 2800 Magazine St. 504-265-0421. Map.Nice Casual.AE DC DS MC V Website ANECDOTES AND ANALYSIS He’s never come out and said it, but I get the impression from dining in Chef Michael Stoltfus’s restaurant that his main goal is to keep the restaurant in a state of flux. That’s not uncommon among our gourmet eateries, but Michael takes that direction a few more steps farther than most. In my review of a few years ago, I used the phrase “The menu is written in…

Read On...

Cafe Lynn. Mandeville: 2600 Florida St. 985-624-9007.

Cafe Lynn. Mandeville: 2600 Florida St. 985-624-9007. Cafe Lynn Mandeville: 2600 Florida St. 985-624-9007. Map.Nice Casual.AE DC DS MC V Website ANECDOTES AND ANALYSIS Cafe Lynn has all you could want from a French-Creole bistro: a skillful, original chef, an imaginative menu, many regular customers, and lots of parking. At one time it also had a less appealing aspect: in its first years, it was located in what had been a Burger King. Even after a renovation, the place drew the occasional BK customer, who sometimes were well inside the…

Read On...

Delmonico. Lee Circle Area: 1300 St. Charles Ave. 504-525-4937.

Delmonico is the best restaurant directly on a Mardi Gras parade route–even though it’s closed on Fat Tuesday and Monday. The rest of the year, it’s my kind of restaurant. Its menu is dominated by classic French-Creole dishes updated with current ingredients and kitchen techniques. They play the same game with the dining rooms, enclosed in a century-old building that nevertheless has a decidedly contemporary feel.
More to come. . .[divider type=""]

Read On...

Cypress. Metairie: 4426 Transcontinental. 504-885-6885.

Among the most-loved restaurants are those whose customers believe that their goodness is known only to themselves. Secret restaurants, we might call them. The regular patrons are reluctant to talk about such restaurants, believing that the restaurant will become impenetrable if everybody in the world starts coming. In actual fact, that almost never happens, but the feeling is still comforting. All of the above applies to Cypress, whose location at the corner of two heavily-traveled arteries should make it better known than it is. But ssshhhh! More to come. . .[divider type=""]

Read On...

Dick & Jenny’s. Uptown: 4501 Tchoupitoulas. 504-894-9880.

It’s not true that New Orleans diners hate beautiful restaurants with atmosphere. But it’s easy to come to that conclusion, given the number of ramshackle dining rooms that attract large, loyal clienteles. The premises are interesting in decor, but are spartan and less than comfortable. For most of its history, you couldn’t get a reservation for fewer than five people, and waiting out back with a glass of wine was inevitable. And, somehow, chic. More to come. . .

But time goes on. Under the new ownership, reservations are easy to get and the menu is a little more expensive. The place looks the same. More to come. . .

Read On...

Atchafalaya. Uptown: 901 Louisiana Ave. 504-891-9626.

Atchafalaya may be the ultimate New Orleans restaurant, at least for the younger half of the gourmet world. The food is great, inspired by the traditional ingredients and flavors but without more than a handful of classic Creole restaurant dishes. The place is an old neighborhood joint much in need of thorough restoration. But the prices reflect that. Instead of lunch, Atchafalaya offers a first-class brunch almost every day of the week. Even the restaurant’s motto–“New Orleans’s Only Five-A Restaurant”–is clever. The only drawback is getting a table–never easy when you need one. More to come. . .

Read On...

Cafe Adelaide. CBD: 300 Poydras Street. 504-595-3305.

The dining room of the Loews Hotel is a kicky, casual branch of Commander’s Palace, with the service standards of the mother ship and an accessible, interesting menu. ¶ A visit here begins with one of the best bars town, with an imaginative program of creating new and old cocktails with fresh juices, house-made mixers, and great care. ¶ The food is more rustic than at Commander’s, with ingredients and techniques that have a homestyle quality. Cafe Adelaide does a brisk lunch business, but at dinner it’s a good place to remember, because it usually has tables available. More to come. . .[divider type=""]

Read On...

Cava. Lakeview: 789 Harrison Ave. 504-304-9034.

Cava just ended its first year in business, and Danny Millan must be breathing a sigh of relief. This is the first restaurant proprietorship in his long career, and he went through all the usual problems of launching a new eatery. The place was jammed at the beginning, creating issues of staffing, inconsistency, and noise. He worked his way through all of that, and now that the novelty-seekers have moved on to gripe forever in social media, Cava has leveled off with a strong regular customer base and very good cooking. More to come. . .

Read On...

Borgne. CBD: 601 Loyola Ave. 504-613-3860.

#4 Among The 33 Best Seafood Eateries

Of all the notions from the fecund mind of Chef John Besh, Borgne may be the best of them. In a casual restaurant whose decor makes a clear statement on behalf of seafood, he and his chef-business partner Brian Landry blend the flavors of New Orleans with those of the long-running Isleños community just downstream. That alone is a brilliant idea, never before explored. What comes out of the effort is a menu that seems familiar, but brings a collection of unusual flavors and food marriages that are unique in the eating. The location near the Superdome and the rapidly-developing Poydras @ Loyola area adds to its utility. More to come. . .

Read On...

Mr. B’s Bistro. French Quarter: 201 Royal. 504-523-2078.

#5 Among The 33 Best Seafood Eateries

In 1979, the Brennans revolutionized the the New Orleans dining scene around by opening Mr. B’sthis, the archetype of the casual, contemporary Creole bistro. Now restaurants like Mr. B’s dominate the scene. Its kitchen creates innovative and excellent Creole dishes from top-rung fresh ingredients, but serves them in an easy, informal way. Hickory-grilled fish, now common, was pioneered here; so was pasta as a non-Italian main course. Although a scan of the menu suggests that red meats are the main specialty, the seafood dishes are almost without exception the best versions anywhere of numerous contemporary Creole classic dishes. More to come. . .

Read On...

Muriel’s. French Quarter: 801 Chartres. 504-568-1885.

#13 Among The 33 Best Seafood Eateries

Muriel’s location is almost too good. It’s on Jackson Square, the center of New Orleans since its earliest days, a few feet from St. Louis Cathedral. With second-flood balconies overlooking the park and the river, there is no better place for an immersion in the New Orleans spirit. Indeed, at least one spirit haunts the hallways and staircases of Muriel’s antique building. A little voodoo here, a little bawdiness there, and distinctive Creole and Cajun cooking filling the atmosphere with its flavors and aromas. The place almost seems touristy, but it has a large local following that keeps the flavors right and the prices attractive. The emphasis is on seafood, prepared with virtually zero use of the deep-fryer. More to come. . .

Read On...

Café B. Old Metairie: 2700 Metairie Road. 504-934-4700.

#17 Among The 33 Best Seafood Eateries

Old Metairie is old, affluent, and unique. Restaurants there operate under different rules. They find a healthy lunch crowd, a preference for earlier dining than elsewhere, and a desire for retro food and service. One more oddity: people from other parts of town are reluctant to go to Old Metairie to dine, fearing that they’ll get caught at the railroad crossing for a long time–even if their destination doesn’t require crossing the tracks. Ralph Brennan–the most business-savvy member of his famous restaurant family–saw an opportunity in Old Metairie. Even in a restaurant space where four previous eateries had failed. As usual, his hunch–and his keen ability to match a restaurant with a clientele–was on target.

Read On...

Bourbon House. French Quarter: 144 Bourbon. 504-522-0111.

#19 Among The 33 Best Seafood Eateries

The corner of Iberville and Bourbon Streets may be the best restaurant location in New Orleans, with a surfeit of classic local eateries right there or mighty nearby. The Brennan family alone has four major restaurants within the block, creating a little tension when Dickie Brennan’s Bourbon House encroached upon Ralph Brennan’s Red Fish Grill’s seafood-restaurant turf. As it turned out, both places thrived because of the propinquity, not despite it. The Bourbon House also offset one of Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse place at the other end of the block. All is harmony now. More to come. . .

Read On...

Nola. French Quarter: 534 St. Louis. 504-522-6652.

FleurDeLis-4-SmallEmeril Lagasse hung around NOLA a lot in the early days of the restaurant, when NOLA was his first expansion restaurant property and he was only beginning to be known nationwide. It was a fun place to be, back then, because Emeril and his kitchen staff would create some wild dishes. Jablaya on a pizza. Shrimp remoulade served warm over pasta. Fish roasted on planks of wood that would start smoldering, thereby giving a fascinating flavor.

NOLA evolved into a different animal, particularly since Katrina. Its customer base has become heavy with visitors, although it has no small number of French Quarter residents at its tables. You can spot the latter easily: they never ask for Emeril. More to come. . .

Read On...

Gallagher’s Grill. Covington: 509 S Tyler. 985-892-9992.

FleurDeLis-4-SmallChef Pat Gallagher has long been an important North Shore restaurateur. This restaurant, now five years old, is his best ever. A large contingent regulars keep the place busy enough that it’s become essential to have weekend reservations well in advance. Pat is not been infected by current culinary trends, relying on a list of familiar local dishes made with big flavors and first-class ingredients. More to come. . .

Read On...

Orleans Grapevine. French Quarter: 720 Orleans. 504-523-1930.

Remember wine bars? They made their big splash here in the 1980s. After a golden decade they faded, as restaurants co-opted the idea by offering dozens of wines by the glass. But wine bars never went away entirely. New ones continue to open sporadically–particularly as restaurants and bars have become more like one another. Here is a good such place. More to come. . .

Read On...

Marti’s. French Quarter: 1041 Dumaine. 504-522-5478.

FleurDeLis-4-Small Even though the excellent Peristyle took over the space for a good while, the idea of a reborn Marti’s kept floating around. It finally came to ground in 2013, right about where it would be if it and Marti had never left. More to come. . .

Read On...

Tomas Bistro. Warehouse District: 755 Tchoupitoulas. 504-527-0942.

Tomas Bistro Warehouse District & Center City: 755 Tchoupitoulas. 504-527-0942. Map.Nice Casual.AE DC DS MC V Website ANECDOTES AND ANALYSIS A restaurant reviewed two and a half years ago doesn’t often require a new report. But reading an earlier assessment, I find that the Tomas Bistro and its neighborhood have progressed so much that it’s time for another in-depth look. Four major, recent openings occurred this year so far, while a number of restaurants turned over or went dark. No restaurants thrived more obviously in the midst of all this…

Read On...

Sapphire. Slidell: 2306 Front St. (985) 288-4166.

A few months ago I asked the listeners to my radio show what restaurant they’d like to see open in New Orleans, with a mind to seeing where the trends are heading. What we heard was the opposite thing: wishes that certain extinct restaurants would reopen. That must have come as good news to the owners of Sapphire, a place that opened late last year in Slidell. The headline of Sapphire’s prospectus is that it was, to a substantial extent, the rebirth of Restaurant Mandich. That was a Bywater establishment founded in the 1920s; its owners closed the place and retired after Katrina. That end has been much lamented by Mandich’s many fans. Suddenly, the next generation decided that the place could be revived, sought the assistance of their parents, and behold: Mandich has sort of returned from the dead. Read More. . .

Read On...

Criollo

Criollo French Quarter: 214 Royal. 504-523-3341. Map.Nice Casual.AE DC DS MC VWebsite WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY The Monteleone Hotel dominates the 200 block of Royal Street, the entrance hallway of the French Quarter. It was old-fashioned and dowdy for a long time, but in recent years its prominence has risen enormously. Criollo (pronounced “kree-OH-low,” not the Spanish way) is the hotel’s most successful modernization yet. This is a comfortable, handsome restaurant with a casual service style, but menus that reach from the most familiar local dishes to some very ambitious cooking….

Read On...

Porter & Luke’s. Old Metairie: 1517 Metairie Road. 504-875-4555.
Contemporary Creole

Porter & Luke’s. Old Metairie: 1517 Metairie Road. 504-875-4555.

Porter & Luke’s Metairie 1: Old Metairie: 1517 Metairie Road. 504-875-4555. Map.CasualAE DC DS MC VWebsite WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY If you heard the buzz emanating from early customers of Porter & Luke, you may have taken the impression that it’s a more complex restaurant than it is. Which is a classic New Orleans neighborhood cafe, the kind with everything on the menu. Poor boys, red beans, seafood platters, grilled fish, boiled crawfish, fried chicken, grilled oysters, and a lot of Italian dishes–it’s all here, in big portions at low prices….

Read On...

Andy’s Bistro. Metairie: 3322 N. Turnbull Dr. 504-455-7363.
Contemporary Creole

Andy’s Bistro. Metairie: 3322 N. Turnbull Dr. 504-455-7363.

Andy’s Bistro Metairie 2: Orleans Line To Houma Blvd: 3322 N. Turnbull Dr. 504-455-7363. Map.Nice Casual.AE DS MC VWebsite WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY This is an Americanized Creole bistro, specializing in basics: fried and grilled seafood, steaks and chops, hamburgers and pizza. All of this is prepared reasonably well, but it seems to compete more with the upscale chains than their local equivalents. That said, Andy’s is a pleasant place to hang out and have a casual lunch or dinner. WHAT’S GOOD The menu is more abbreviated than it appears. It’s…

Read On...

Cafe Amelie. French Quarter: 912 Royal. 504-412-8965.
Contemporary Creole

Cafe Amelie. French Quarter: 912 Royal. 504-412-8965.

Cafe Amelie French Quarter: 912 Royal. 504-412-8965. Map.Casual.AE DS MC VWebsite WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY Courtyards for dining are not nearly as common in the French Quarter as most people believe. Café Amelie’s large, well-planted space is not only among the most attractive, but casual and affordable enough that it gets a lot of walk-in business from strollers on Royal Street. During spring and fall it is especially busy, and builds long waiting lists during the festival season in April and May. WHAT’S GOOD The kitchen’s style is traditional Creole, but…

Read On...

R’evolution. French Quarter: 777 Bienville (in the Royal Sonesta Hotel). 504-553-2277.

R’evolution French Quarter: 777 Bienville (in the Royal Sonesta Hotel). 504-553-2277. Map.Nice Casual.AE DC DS MC VWebsite WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY The potential pleasures come at you from all directions at once. Opulent, imaginatively furnished dining rooms are served by an eager, faithful cadre of servers. Behind the scenes (mostly) is a heavily-staffed kitchen working on an all-encompassing menu. The tout ensemble is inspired by two chefs from the upper reaches of the American cooking totem, with very different culinary backgrounds. The wine cellar represents an investment in seven figures. While…

Read On...

Annunciation. Warehouse District: 1016 Annunciation. 504-568-0245.
Contemporary Creole

Annunciation. Warehouse District: 1016 Annunciation. 504-568-0245.

Annunciation Warehouse District & Center City: 1016 Annunciation. 504-568-0245. Map.Nice Casual.AE DC DS MC V WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY Most important fact: Chef-owner Steve Manning put in two extended stints running the kitchen at Clancy’s before opening Annunciation. That was long enough for the style of that still-superb Uptown bistro to be largely Steve’s–and vice-versa. In its first year, Annunciation seems to be sticking with the dishes Steve can cook with his eyes closed, with new dishes appearing mostly on the specials list. WHAT’S GOOD If you like Clancy’s, you’ll like…

Read On...

SoBou. French Quarter: 310 Chartres St. 504-552-4095.
Contemporary Creole

SoBou. French Quarter: 310 Chartres St. 504-552-4095.

SoBou French Quarter: 310 Chartres St.. 504-552-4095. Map.Casual.AE DC DS MC VWebsite WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY SoBou represents either the vanguard of a new era in dining out, or a phase we’ll laugh at in twenty years. In either case, it’s decidedly pitched at younger (thirty-ish) customers, who seem as delighted by the freewheeling format of the place as older customers are puzzled by it. The center of gravity is the bar, where an intensive program of developing cocktails and custom ingredients for them rules. The bar chef is as prominent…

Read On...

Pardo’s. Covington: 69305 Hwy 21. 985-893-3603.
Contemporary Creole

Pardo’s. Covington: 69305 Hwy 21. 985-893-3603.

Pardo’s Covington: 69305 Hwy 21. 985-893-3603. Map.Casual.AE DS MC VWebsite WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY Pardo’s is the first North Shore restaurant to offer the food, service and style of the gourmet Creole bistro. Such restaurants have been dominant in New Orleans proper since the early 1980s, but until now they never got a purchase across the lake. After eight months, Pardo’s has become solidly popular for its kitchen’s verve and creativity. It claims to serve American food, but the ingredients and flavors are clearly those of Louisiana. WHAT’S GOOD The menu…

Read On...

1 2