Flaming Torch. Uptown: 737 Octavia. 504-895-0900.

Written by Tom Fitzmorris September 25, 2010 12:31 in

3 Fleur
Average check per person $35-$45
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Flaming Torch

Uptown 3: Napoleon To Audubon: 737 Octavia. 504-895-0900. Map.
Nice Casual

The Flaming Torch has evolved farther than most French bistros hereabouts, its style landing about midway between those of the traditional La Crepe Nanou and the stridently nouvelle Lilette. The food has incorporated a lot of Creole flavors over the years, but the menu both talks and walks the French line. It's a shade more expensive than most Uptown bistros, but the plates are a bit more generous.

Most of the classic dishes of casual French cooking are here, carried out credibly. There is no better coq au vin in these parts. The traditional French-Creole steak dishes and the rack of lamb are carried out well, as are the mussels, scallops, and bouillabaisse. Fish specials--usually with sauces right out of Escoffier, although they may be new to you--are among the best choices on any given night. Not to be missed: the crabmeat beignets. (Not doughnuts.)

The present Flaming Torch opened in 2004. But its lineage began in Metairie in the 1980s, when a French-Moroccan chef named Pouri opened a unique restaurant called Scheherezade in Metairie. Chef Pouri had a gimmick: he cooked the entrees with a large blowtorch. He moved the restaurant first to Kenner, then to the French Quarter, where it picked up the colorful name. He got out of the business and sold it to his manager Hassan Khaleghi. The move to Magazine Street, fire codes and space limitations made the blowtorch bit impossible. Uptowners didn't know the history, and accepted the place as another good French bistro. When Magazine Street became the prime New Orleans restaurant row after Katrina, the Flaming Torch gathered a new following. After a couple of old French chefs and one younger local guy, the kitchen was handed off to Chef Nick Gile, who had a good ten-year run at the Bombay Club before turning up here.

The restaurant's entrance is a door off Magazine Street, making it a little secretive. The downstairs dining room has a clean elegance, low lighting, and (when the room fills up) lively acoustics. The upstairs dining room--used mostly for private parties--is a conversion of a nice 1890s townhouse, with tables not quite fitting into a pretty double parlor. The service style is friendly and personable, with no formality.

»»Crabmeat beignets, grilled corn salad, fresh herb aioli
Veal sweetbreads, lemon, wine, butter, white grapes
»Roasted rabbit risotto, fresh peas, Manchego cheese
»Moules frites (Prince Edward Island mussels, bacon, garlic, cream, fresh-cut fries)
»House-made duck liver paté
»Escargots, sauce pistou
»Sazerac shrimp, peppers, herbs, saffron, reduction of beer and rye whiskey
Imported cheese plate of the day
French onion soup
Soup du jour
House salad (greens, tomato, cucumber, hearts of palm
»Caesar salad, tempura fried Spanish anchovies
Baby spinach salad, poached egg, pickled red onion, mustard, bacon
»Shrimp remoulade salad
»Duet of duck (confit of leg, pan seared breast), calvados, duck demi-glace, lyonnaise potatoes
»Pink-peppered, seared redfish, sauce Maltaise (orange or grapefruit hollandaise)
»Seafood bouillabaisse, roasted garlic rouille, tomato, fennel, saffron, assortment of fresh seafood
»»Coq au vin (boneless chicken braised in red wine and root vegetables)
New Orleans barbecue shrimp
»Pan-seared diver scallops, chimichurri, hash of potatoes, bacon and corn
New York strip steak au poivre
»Coffee and coriander spiced rack of lamb, beurre rouge
»Seared tuna salad Nicoise (greens, chilled potato, boiled egg, olives, haricots verts, tomato, anchovies, vinaigrette)
»Filet mignon with dueling sauces (marchand de vin and béarnaise)
Foie lyonnaise (sauteed veal liver, grilled onions, demi-glace)
Redfish and crab courtbouillon
»Hazelnut-encrusted chocolate torte
»Creme brulee
Panna cotta with fresh berries

Order light. Everything here is served more amply than in comparable restaurants. Good to remember: they're open 365 days a year.

The entree side of the menu is a bit heavy with meats and game. Another fish dish or two would be welcome.

Up to three points, positive or negative, for these characteristics. Absence of points denotes average performance in the matter.

  • Dining Environment +1
  • Consistency +1
  • Service+2
  • Value
  • Attitude +2
  • Wine & Bar +1
  • Hipness +1
  • Local Color +1


  • Sidewalk tables
  • Romantic
  • Good for business meetings
  • Many private rooms
  • Early-evening specials
  • Open Sunday lunch and dinner
  • Open Monday lunch and dinner
  • Open all holidays
  • Unusually large servings
  • Good for children
  • Easy, nearby parking
  • Reservations honored promptly