WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY
One of the smallest and least physically prepossessing restaurants in town, the Louisiana Bistro flies under most people’s radar. It may be better known to frequent visitors than to locals. Chef Mars runs the place out of his back pocket, cooking a short menu of Creole classics with enough twists to make it pop out from its neighbors.
The real action here is contained in the daily table d’hote menu from the personal cuisine of Chef Mars. It is as unique as his single name, and is available in almost any number of courses, as long as everybody at the table plays along. This is, in fact, the best use of a minuscule facility, and what comes out is impressive and consistent.
Chef Erik Mars was born in Vienna, came to America to get a degree in journalism (with a strong interest in photography, wound up at the Culinary Institute, then came to New Orleans to switch careers to cheffing. He’s worked with some of the great local lights: Emeril, Gunter Preuss, Scott Boswell, and his down-the-block neighbor Susan Spicer. He opened the Louisiana Bistro in 2003. Despite its small size, the space has hosted memorable restaurants for decades–notably Anthony DiPiazza’s and Eva’s Spot.
The exterior is so understated that it’s easy to walk right past without seeing it. Were it not for the mirrors inside, the place would be claustrophobic. The place is either empty or packed–sometimes with people lined up on the sidewalk benches. Even when it’s full, it’s comfortable, except on really hot days, when the air conditioning can’t quite keep up. Service is the weakness, but if you imagine you’re in a little French bistro with the careless waiters such places have, it all falls into place.
The best way to eat here–and what most of the customers do–is to allow the chef to take control and send you a dinner of three to five courses.
Fried green tomatoes, jalapeno hollandaise
Crab cake, sweet corn maquechoux
Toasted cheese ravioli, smoked tomato sauce
Gumbo du jour
Blue cheese salad
Grilled double cut pork chop, bacon and red potato hash
Crab and asparagus, mixed greens, bacon and lemon pepper aioli
Chicken Creole, andouille, Creole tomato sauce
FOR BEST RESULTS
The chef’s Feed Me menu (he’s even trademarked the term) is the way to go. If the place is empty, don’t worry about it.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
Gotta fix that air conditioning someday.
FACTORS OTHER THAN FOOD
Up to three points, positive or negative, for these characteristics. Absence of points denotes average performance in the matter.
- Dining Environment +1
- Consistency +1
- Value +1
- Wine & Bar +1
- Hipness +2
- Local Color +2
- Open Sunday dinner
- Reservations accepted