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Elevated Bar Food

00:00 January 21, 2013
By: 2Fik
[Where Y'At Staff/Provided Photo]
Dining Where You Drink

Beer and liquor goes with just about anything, heartache included. Cocktails bring friends and colleagues together after long days, and wine winds down even the pickiest of drinkers. Whether the bartender concocts a sloe gin fizz that takes 12 minutes to make, or a martini with flavor-infused liquors and fresh muddled fruits, the artisanal changeups to a traditional cocktail elevate it from basic to fancy, making a patron feel all the more special.

Same goes for cooks. Preparing a dish using spices or ingredients of higher trade, or making preparations that take more than a morning to arrange certainly affects the quality one tastes at first bite. Uniting the two in a formal setting is what you would typically call a restaurant. But what if the foundation of the establishment is a bar, and its constituent is a kitchen serving dishes complementing the libations in a hearty, handcrafted form?

This is not an indictment to bars that don't serve restaurant-grade food; rather, a recognition for the movement which has been pegged in the industry as elevated bar fare. in certain situations, such as at St. Lawrence, a bar and restaurant to grace the southeast edge of the French Quarter. The bar and kitchen work together as a joint project. Bar owners Brendan Blouin and Jeff James brought in LA native chef Caleb cook to lend his seasoned stock of kitchen etiquettes and experience to the menu offerings. chef cook, who attained a great deal of his industry knowledge from chef Susan Spicer at Mondo, presents a cuisine that meshes with the bar's ever-growing collection of beer and wines. The inhouse daiquiris, made with fresh fruit simple syrups, are formulated in the kitchen, and are as seasonally charged as the menu's entrees.

The fried chicken, previously brined in apple cider, lends texture, while belly-warming mashed potatoes cook does in the creamiest fashion are topped with chicken demi gravy that smooths the palate. Burgers, which may be a more common bar menu item, are substantial in size at st Lawrence, and served on artisan breads from local bakeries.

Killer Poboys is another establishment which presents bar patrons with elevated fare. Although housed in the same space, in this particular case, the restaurant is separate from the bar.

[Where Y'At Staff/Provided Photo]

The Erin Rose bar is known for it's frozen irish coffee and friendly staff. The multifarious decor and festooned walls create an environment barflies refer to as fun, unique, even divey. in the back of the building, located just beyond the cigarette and poker machines, is a small room with a table and stools, where you stand at a window to place your order. Chefs Cam Boudreaux and fiancee April Bellow are artisan architects of an American staple, one which started with stale bread, potatoes and gravy. Cam and April are creating a movement all their own: the "new school" po-boy movement, getting away from the basic stuffings and typical dressings. some may call it a breath of fresh air, but it's more rock and roll than that. it certainly emulates its surrounding ambience, a Bourbon street cacophony of sounds and sights.

Sandwiches like the Guinness braised beef and dark and stormy pork po-boys marry the cocktail and food in beautiful harmony. It's creative takes on menu items such as these that give the customer an optimal dining and drinking experience without the reserved setting of a restaurant. it also gives chefs looking to introduce their food to the public the opportunity to do so without breaking the bank, as start-up capital for developing a restaurant is astronomical.

The French Quarter has seen its fair share of dining arenas. What was once Evelyn's Bar on Chartres Street is now an almost clandestine destination for the amped-up ordinary. Backspace Bar, with its exposed brick walls, game foul taxidermies, vintage typewriter decor, and homey seating is an altar of repose for literary greatness. You could imagine Hemingway seated in the wing back chair writing while simultaneously tying on a good one. The transformed dive is now a tidy library of booze and creative cuisine: a literary lounge if you will. Brandy Milk Punch is served with cookies, and there's an adult version of the grilled cheese which consists of cheddar, swiss and Gruyere making love between two slices of bread. Lest we forget the romantic Ham and Brie Apple French Toast sandwich. Melted Brie draped atop Black Forest ham on Brioche French toast bread - it's enough to inspire a thousand poetic stanzas.

Hermes Bar at Antoine's is a destination for an above-average atmosphere with a less-than-average French Quarter noise level. Noted as a classy wine and champagne bar, it is a full service, casual dress code establishment that is clearly looked upon as a separate entity from the restaurant in which it is stationed. its upscale lounge ambiance is very Prohibition meets fanciful metal and tilework of New Orleans, it is as visually stunning as the mystic regal procession of the krewe to which its name pays homage. A few of Antoine's staple menu items, like the Oysters Rockefeller and crabmeat Ravigote, can be found on the dining list, while the Hermes Bar adds its own luxurious takes on NOLA's most cherished dishes. Their version of an oyster po-boy is complete with a smear of pate and gargantuan fried oysters, suggesting contrasts that work beautifully in melodic synchrony is an indubitably fail-proof method of operation when menu planning.

Perhaps entertainment has a thing or two to do with the guests that fl ock in droves to a particular bar or area of town. Heeding that the food isn't all that customers desire, special attractions signifi cant to a specific location have the power to persuade even the pickiest eaters or drinkers. Take the carousel Bar inside the Hotel Monteleone for example. The slow revolutions of the Merry- Go-Round bar make for a great experience, especially for those unaware visitors. Bites can be sourced from the carousel Bar menu, which is known for its light dishes such as Blue crab and crawfish Beignets, and Petite criollo Burgers topped with a wild mushroom ketchup.

Uptown boys and girls have Oak, and regardless of its appearance and reputation, it isn't just a wine bar. Aside from their vast wine cellar, their full menu offers varieties of bar fare on a poised, nominally priced scale. French fries served with roasted garlic aioli accompany handsome tendered spirits, and dessert wines act as sidecar to some flawlessly assembled sweet bites, like the blueberry and chocolate bread pudding served with vanilla ice cream and bourbon amaretto sauce. As the acidic and flavorful tannins of great wines swirl in guests' glasses, live music fills the air, and quite the list of notable local talent has filled the stage.

During the carnival season, we all agree that convenience is everything. While parking and keeping up with your entourage may be a hassle, finding an accessible spot to get a go-cocktail and bite is the least of your worries. The atmosphere of Bellocq inside the Hotel Modern at Lee Circle lures patrons with its sultry dark interiors stamped with red velvet cushions and silver platters. The vintage effects and dandy character emulates its namesake, photographer John Ernest Joseph Bellocq (1873 - 1949), who worked in New Orleans during the early 20th century. Bellocq's most notable works are his haunting photos of the storyville prostitutes in the legalized red light district of the city. As his work has inspired many a poem, novel and film, he is the canonized character for which the establishment gains it's panache. Credited as a touchstone for cocktail enthusiasts, Bellocq also offers small plate dining items.

Victory Bar, a "gastro lounge that strives to stimulate all of your senses," is just shy of the St. Charles parade route on Baronne between Union and Perdido. Hot ticket items like the Truffle Popcorn and Chicken Satay make it a cut above the average watering hole. Owner Daniel Victory, a Ritz-carlton bartending alum, uses his specialized pockets of knowledge when developing menu items. Hot Pepper Margaritas trump generic frozen party libations while White sangria and Blackberry Mojitos allow paradegoers the opportunity to drink a handcrafted beverage while enjoying the festivities. Bestselling nibbles, like the Korean Barbeque - tender, deliciously marinated pieces of lettuce wrapped beef and pork, make other doggie bags howl in envy.

In short, the network between a successful bar and a creative kitchen with equal drive is advantageous. Bar owners profit from patrons staying in house, drinkers keep their place at the bar, and chefs get their food into grateful bellies for a fraction of the cost. It's a mutually beneficial relationship. Everyone wins.

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