Filling up Mid-City … In the unique space that once housed Redemption (and before that, Christian's), a brand new restaurant has blossomed, dubbed Vessel. Located on Iberville Street in Mid-City, this old church is once again a restaurant with Nick Vella, from MiLa and Cibugnu, reigning as the executive chef. The menu features many locally-sourced ingredients prepared with inspiration from “coastal influences throughout the world”. Dishes include Arkansas rabbit rillette with peach mostarda, cast iron lavash with grilled eggplant or ground lamb, whole smoked fish, and rice fritters with Three Brothers Farms cane syrup. Vessel is open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday.
3835 Iberville St., (504) 603-2775, vesselnola.com
Smashing sandwiches … Right across from the St. Mary Cemetery in the Carrollton neighborhood, there’s a new spot for sandwiches and a little something extra. Opened by Ellen and Darryl Cortello, Luca Eats is a tiny shop sporting pressed sandwiches for breakfast and lunch, like steak and eggs on ciabatta, apples and brie on a butter croissant, a cubano with house-roasted pulled pork and Swiss, and a fried green tomato BLT with sundried tomato aioli. The breads are sourced from Susan Spicer's Wild Flour Bakery and the coffee is from local small-batch roaster French Truck. Luca Eats also offers a wicked wedge salad and Oreo beignets … how's that for lagniappe?
7329 Cohn St., (504) 866-1166, facebook.com/lucaeats
A slice of the Northshore … Friends and co-workers Vinnie LeDonne and Gavin Jobe recently opened Meribo, a new Southern Italian-influenced eatery in Covington. Located on the edge of town in a building that once housed The Boulé Bistro, Meribo offers a casual environment where folks can bring the whole family to enjoy their wood-fired pizza and pasta. Menu items include dishes like wood-fried octopus, beef carpaccio, Meridionale pizza with smoked pork shoulder and collards, smoked Parmigiano-crusted shortribs, and wild boar raviolo.
326 N Lee Ln., (985) 302-5533, meribopizza.com
We hardly knew ye … Within a week of opening, Anna's French gastropub, a new Marigny restaurant that touted a $15 wage for servers and a no-tipping policy, has closed. According to The Gambit's interview with general manager Christopher Jones, owner Jean Ranguin absconded with all the money, neglecting to pay rent or his employees. The restaurant's website is still active and states that the restaurant has “experienced an emergency and will be closed until further notice.” Will they reopen? We can only wait and see…
1913 Royal St., annasneworleans.com
Slinging Israeli street food … A casual Israeli street food joint opened up in the space that once housed McClure's BBQ on Magazine Street. Dubbed Tal's Hummus, this new restaurant offers all the usual suspects like falafel, kebab and shaksuka (eggs poached in a tomato-based sauce), and creative pita sandwiches like the Sabich with hard-boiled egg and fried eggplant, or the Green Omelet with fresh herbs and tahini. Owner Tal Sharon, from Doris Metropolitan, launched the quick-service restaurant, which also offers online ordering and delivery service to the Uptown neighborhood. Tal's Hummus is open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
4800 Magazine St., (504) 267-7357, talshummus.com
Exhibition over? … Purloo, the Southern-cuisine eatery in the Southern Food & Beverage Museum, and its chef, Ryan Hughes, have pulled up stakes and are moving to a new, yet undisclosed, location. Not long ago, the restaurant posted a statement on Facebook announcing the move, saying, “We will be closed early this summer for our much-needed vacation and will keep everyone updated.” There also has been no information about what might take over the Central City space that Purloo vacated. Stay tuned…
1504 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., (504) 324-6020, nolapurloo.com
Transforming Tulane … Fharmacy, located near the corner of S. Broad and Tulane Streets, is one of the latest eateries to pop up near the changing corridor. Taking over the tiny space that once housed Dis & Dem, Fharmacy (run by Chien Nguyen and Nhat Nguyen) offers an eclectic menu of different eats like mussels and frites, tacos, mini meat pies, a Dr. Tan Burger with grilled jalapenos and chipotle aioli, a pastrami sandwich on rye, and a lemongrass chicken wrap. Fharmacy also offers a full bar and is open Monday through Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
2540 Banks St., (504) 324-6090, facebook.com/Fharmacynola
Joining forces … Culinary couple Kristen Essig and Michael Stoltzfus have come together through passions both personal and professional, announcing their partnership at Coquette. Though we were all dismayed when Essig left Cavan and Meauxbar, we knew that something was bubbling for her future and a partnership at her beau's stellar Uptown bistro seems like just the ticket. With Essig's return to the kitchen comes the rebirth of Coquette's “No Menu Tuesday” concept, which began on June 28 with “breakfast for dinner” and continues through the end of September.
2800 Magazine St., (504) 265-0421, coquettenola.com
Turning off the red light … As the hotel on Lee Circle morphs yet again, we must say a doleful farewell to Bellocq, the Lower Garden District bar created by the folks from Cure. Themed to honor famed erotic photographer E.J. Bellocq, this unique drinking establishment delved into re-inventing the 19th-century cobbler made with herbs, fresh fruits and aperitif wine like sherry. Neal Bodenheimer and his partners will likely avoid opening another hotel bar in the future.
936 St. Charles Ave., (504) 962-0911, facebook.com/Bellocq-267191733334649
Just like the good old days … The Pontchartrain Hotel has finally reopened after an extensive, $10 million renovation, along with the historic Caribbean Room now re-imagined by the Besh Restaurant Group. Closed since 1994, the Caribbean Room and its Mile-High Pie have returned to the city with chef Chris Lusk at the helm. The Besh Restaurant Group is overseeing the entire food and beverage program in the hotel, which includes The Silver Whistle Café, the Bayou Bar, and a new rooftop bar, the Hot Tin. Along with the somewhat controversial pie, the Caribbean Room's menu includes a Waygu beef and beet tartare, shrimp saki, stuffed squash blossom salad, Trout Veronique with hollandaise, and pepper roast rack of lamb.
2031 St. Charles Ave., (504) 232-1500, thecaribbeanroom.com
Best outdoor dining … We'd like to offer hearty congratulations to Café Amelie, which was voted as one of the 100 Best Al Fresco Dining Restaurants in America by OpenTable! The award reflects the opinions of over 5 million restaurant reviews submitted by verified OpenTable diners all over the world. Café Amelie is a popular French Quarter bistro named for Amelie Miltonberger, the mother of the first American Princess of Monaco who lived in New Orleans during the mid-1800's. Along with a large, lush courtyard, Café Amelie is known for its dazzling brunches and is a gorgeous venue for intimate weddings.
912 Royal St., (504) 412-8965, cafeamelie.com