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

Tom Fitzmorris April 06, 2013 04:25

4 Fleur
Average check per person $55-$65
BreakfastNo Breakfast SundayNo Breakfast MondayNo Breakfast TuesdayNo Breakfast WednesdayNo Breakfast ThursdayNo Breakfast FridayNo Breakfast Saturday
LunchLunch SundayLunch MondayLunch TuesdayLunch WednesdayLunch ThursdayLunch FridayNo Lunch Saturday
DinnerDinner SundayDinner MondayDinner TuesdayDinner WednesdayDinner ThursdayDinner FridayDinner Saturday


French Quarter: 777 Bienville (in the Royal Sonesta Hotel). 504-553-2277. Map.
Nice Casual.

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 you wait for a table (as you just might), the oversize, handsome bar engages you with a strong artisanal-cocktail offering. At the end, the financial investment is only as lofty as you expected. It all begs to persuade you that you have had an unforgettable evening. And that's where I freeze up. Is it, or isn't it? Beyond the novelty period, I mean?

The menu begs to be all things to all people. The foodscape looks and tastes like Louisiana. But here is also a full steakhouse menu. An oyster bar with numerous cooked derivatives. Quite a bit of Italian food. Equal populations of unique, sometimes overwrought presentations and simple plops of food onto plates. And representatives of all the current trends: charcuterie, barbecue, pork belly, Asian flavors, small plates, foie gras, locally-farmed vegetables. Plus lots of crabmeat, cheese and bacon in places where they belong, and also where they don't. Add it up, and it resembles nothing so much as the encyclopedic menus we used to see in the at Galatoire's, Antoine's, and Arnaud's in the 1970s and before. After a lot of study, one is still not sure what to eat. Even the servers seem a little overwhelmed.

R'evolution is the new main restaurant of the Royal Sonesta Hotel, in partnership with chefs John Folse and Rick Tramonto. Folse is a major figure in the reinvention and popularization of Cajun and Creole food from the 1970s onward. Although it's been awhile since he ran an a full-time a la carte restaurant, he has always had many pots on the stove. Tramonto is one of the best-known chefs in Chicago, famous for a restaurant called Tru (still there, but without him). His palate has tilts in the directions of Italy and grand spectacle. He came to New Orleans at Folse's prompting to help out after Katrina, and became sympatico with our. This new restaurant was almost a year in the making, opening in spring 2012 to raves which have died down a bit.

R'evolution is a striking restaurant, so distinctive in its design that it's worth a tour through all the public spaces. The dining rooms are modest in size and different from one another in decor. One features an open kitchen with a communal chef's table. Another has glassed-in coolers with sides of aging beef and curing sausages on display. Only one has tablecloths. Louisiana themes are everywhere. Again, this is reminiscent of Antoine's, Arnaud's, and Broussard's. In contrast are ultra-modern touches (menus on iPads) and some contrived ones (caviar served on a little glass staircase). The bar is engaging and comfortable enough to serve as yet another dining room.

Seafood gumbo
»Death by gumbo (quail, andouille, oysters)
»Turtle soup, fino sherry, deviled quail eggs
Corn and crab cappuccino, black truffle, popcorn
House salad, crispy vegetables, haricots verts, cucumber
»Cajun-fried oyster salad, bacon, blue cheese
Raw vegetable salad
»Roasted baby beets, goat cheese, candied pecans
Trio of seafood (ahi tuna, Scottish salmon, seafood salad)
Black truffle beef tartare
Shrimp rémoulade carpaccio style
»Burrata cheese, choupique caviar
»Oysters on the half shell dozen
»Oysters on the half shell R'evolution (cucumber lemon granita, tangerine salsa), dozen
Espresso-crusted venison carpaccio
»Beer-battered crab beignets, four rémoulades
Sizzling oysters R'evolution (smoked Bienville butter)
Brick oven bone marrow
Crabmeat-stuffed frog legs niçoise
»Fried sweetbreads, Herbsaint meunière, forest mushrooms
Charcuterie boards, including choices of:
Jamón ibérico de bellota
Hog's head cheese
Daube glacé
»Duck liver mousse
»Torchon of foie gras
Pork rillettes
»Country pâté
Tramonto's caviar staircase (whitefish roe, salmon roe, wasabi tobiko, plus black caviar of choice (white sturgeon, American Siberian sturgeon, osetra malossol, Galilee royal osetra
Oysterman's spaghettini (tomatoes, cream, shaved bottarga)
»Tajarin (thin fettuccine), jumbo lump crabmeat
»Sheep ricotta gnocchi with lobster
»Fazzoletti (small sheets) with crawfish, corn
Goat cheese tortelli, bacon, arugula, teardrop tomatoes
»Rigatoni, Roman meat ragù
Asian-style shrimp and grits, chiles, ginger, dried shrimp
»Seared sea scallops and foie gras, truffle white bean purée
Griddle-seared red snapper and pork belly, root vegetable purée
Crawfish-stuffed flounder napoleon, artichoke and oyster stew, crawfish boulettes
Ginger-fried St Peter's fish [tilapia], Bulgarian-style yogurt rémoulade, fennel-green apple slaw
»Grilled striped black bass, caramel turnips, chard, lemon verbena broth
"Bird in a cage" (coq au vin-style chicken under a screen of thickened, bubbled sauce)
»Pecan-smoked pork shank, Brussels sprouts, beans
Braised boneless short ribs, red wine sauce
»Lamb trio (grilled chop, mustard-crusted cheek, braised tongue)
»Pannéed veal chop, crabmeat salad, truffle aïoli
Brick oven barbequed, bacon-wrapped "wabbit loin" [sic], grits cake, barbeque sauce
Triptych of quail (fried, boudin-stuffed, absinthe-glazed)
Molasses-lacquered duck, orange, vanilla-stewed turnips, prunes
Filet mignon
Prime ribeye
Prime porterhouse
Prime bone-in filet
Tomahawk ribeye for two
Kurobuta pork chop
Milk-fed veal chop
Four-bone rack of lamb
Artichoke-mirliton au gratin
Creole cream cheese potatoes
Grilled asparagus, parmesan espuma [foam]
Truffled mashed potatoes
Brick oven brussels sprouts, bacon
Stone-ground cheese grits
Smothered greens
Gruyère potato au gratin
Dirty wild rice
Corn macque choux pudding
Fries, two sauces
Horseradish cream
Cane molasses barbeque sauce
T- steak sauce
Bone marrow sauce
Foie gras butter
Sautéed oyster mushrooms
Marchand de vin sauce
Sautéed oysters
Sautéed shrimp
Blue cheese crust
Sautéed gulf shrimp
Truffle butter
Sautéed jumbo lump crabmeat
Truffle sauce
Sautéed Maine lobster meat
Lobster béarnaise
Desserts Trio of cheesecakes
»Bananas Foster hot soufflee
»Cheese assortment
Many other specials

I'd specify the one room that has tablecloths in your reservation. It would probably be a good idea to look over the way-too-long menu online before you go, or over cocktails in the bar. (Although each visit seems to present a shorter menu.)

R'evolution is weak in the finfish department, with few acceptable choices. (Unacceptable: tilapia. What's that doing here?) The kitchen, for all its cooks, is surprisingly inflexible. Why could they not make bearnaise or peppercorn sauce for their steaks if asked? And with all these dry-aged steaks, where's the sirloin strip? Some diners may find the room with the aging beef and sausages off-putting.

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

  • Dining Environment +3
  • Consistency
  • Service+1
  • Value
  • Attitude +1
  • Wine & Bar +3
  • Hipness +2
  • Local Color +3


  • Outdoor tables, drinks only
  • Romantic
  • Good for business meetings
  • Many private rooms
  • Open Sunday lunch and dinner
  • Open Monday lunch and dinner
  • Open some holidays
  • Oyster bar
  • Pay valet parking
  • Reservations accepted

After five repasts at the year-old R'evolution, I'm still not sure what to make of it other than the obvious: that it's the most hyped New Orleans restaurant since the opening of Emeril's. If you were not subjected to the advances, you'll come away from it reasonably impressed, probably by the food and certainly by the environment. And that's without getting the $200 Caviar Staircase. Those of us who were subjected to the months of press releases and rumors, on the other hand, may have been less than blown away by the reality. I suspect this restaurant will require many more months of evolution before it figures out what it is.

One matter of note slipped by almost unnoticed. The coming of R'evolution spelled the end of Begue's and its Sunday brunch buffet after 43 years.