Passing the torch … When Flaming Torch was severely damaged in a fire, many thought owner Zohreh Khaleghi would leave the restaurant business for sure. But here we are almost a year later, and Khaleghi has teamed up with her friend Vyoone Therese Lewis to open a new restaurant in the Warehouse District dubbed, interestingly enough, Vyoone's. The menu is similar to that of a French bistro, with dishes like mussels, escargot, coq au vin, and seafood bouillabaisse. Though I am never one to complain about an abundance of French food, I can only hope Khaleghi might bring back the Persian lunch menu that was featured so briefly at Flaming Torch.
412 Girod St., (504) 518-6007, vyoone.com
Along the line … Chef Bradley McGeehee and his wife Stephanie recently opened a second location of their popular breakfast and sandwich shop, Blue Line Sandwich Co., this time in the Central Business District on S. Rampart. Taking over the brick building that once housed Mexican restaurant Las Margaritas, the new Blue Line will feature much of the same menu that can be found on Metairie Road, only this location has a lot more space: 5,000 square feet that includes a patio out back. Blue Line Sandwich Co. is open 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.
514 S. Rampart St., (504) 581-4966, bluelinesandwichco.com
Spicing up the shack … Keepin' it crunchy, a new Tex-Mex restaurant recently launched in Gentilly, dubbed Catty Shack, just down the way from Toast Fairgrounds on Gentilly Boulevard. Chef and owner Catherine Smith offers "tacos and whatnot," like the Big Daddy with smoked brisket and cotija, the Catty Fish with fried catfish and cabbage, and the Crispy Lentilly with seasoned lentils and guacamole in a crispy taco shell.
1839 Gentilly Blvd., (504) 372-3150, facebook.com/CattyShackTexMex
Willy Wonka? No way! … Piety & Desire Chocolate, a chocolate factory and shop by Christopher Nobles, opened not too long ago on South Broad. The entire chocolate-making process (excluding growing the trees) happens right there, from roasting the beans and grinding the cacao to forming and selling the chocolate itself—"bean-to-bar." We're still wondering where he keeps the Oompa Loompas and chocolate waterfall, but as soon as we know, you'll know.
2727 S. Broad St., pietyanddesirechocolate.com
The silver hammer … Inch by inch, little by little, New Orleans is seeing a growth in health-focused cafés that are slowly but surely infiltrating the butter-sauced and deep-fried fare we all know and love. As part of that effort, Max Well New Orleans opened its doors on the corner of Magazine and Webster Streets. Owner MaxWell Eaton launched this new "organic plant-food" café, featuring salads and bowls like the Hippie Salad with cherry tomatoes and pumpkin seeds or the Lentil Kitchari with mung beans and yellow onions. The vegan eatery also features simple vegan soups and fresh juices. Max Well is open daily from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
6101 Magazine St., (504) 301-0510, maxwellneworleans.com
Do the hokey poke … And just as you turn yourself around, there pops another poke restaurant on S. Claude Avenue. According to Gambit, Poke-Chan offers a variety of different bowls and wraps with cooked and raw toppings and signature dishes, from The Tamarind Scallion with yellowtail, bay scallops, and sweet onions to The Karaage with Japanese-style fried chicken and kimchi. Poke-Chan is open every day from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
2809 St. Claude Ave., (504) 571-5446, poke-chan.com
Did she say lunch? … In an effort to expand support for culinary entrepreneurs, Roux Carré has launched an accelerator program called, interestingly enough, Launch Pod. The program is four months long and "encompasses weekly one-on-one business development sessions, a culinary-focused workshop series called Mise en Place (also open to the public), and a 12-day pop-up showcase in our space." All participants will finish the program with invaluable business knowledge and experience, plus a finished business plan, permits, licensing, and insurance. Currently, the food-biz incubator is hosting Melissa Araujo and Pepper Bowen of Alma, Aaron Washington of Local Menu NOLA, Kim Dejan of KD's NOLA Treats, Dianna Beasley of Ms. Beasley's Healthy Food Truck, and Lisa Nelson of Queen Trini Lisa.
2000 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., (504) 875-4293, rouxcarre.com
Wherever you go, there you are … Longtime chef and restaurateur Duke LoCicero, whom recently shuttered his French Quarter spot Café Gionvanni, accepted a position as the executive chef of Mr. John's Steakhouse back in September of 2017. But we recently received news that LoCicero has split the steakhouse after only four months and has begun working for N'Tinis, an American restaurant in Mandeville owned by Mark and Donna Benfatti.
So sad to see you go…
Addio! … Chef Michael Gulotta of MoPho and Maypop has closed Tana, the Italian installment named after his great grandmother inside Tulane Avenue bar Trèo. Not your average bar grub, Tana offered dishes like charred broccoli with cured kumquat and corn flour garganelli with charred octopus … we're sorry to see it go. But fear not! Clesi's, the seafood spot which used to have a window on Banks Street, is taking up the slack with fried seafood and boiled crawfish.
Not so happy a new year … Phillip Lopez's incredibly creative forefronts of dining in New Orleans shuttered their doors on New Year's Eve. Root and Square Root announced their departure via an Instagram from bar manager Waites Lasetar, who posted, "We are so proud of what we have created here, but fully aware that growth can only occur from death." May you rise again...