"If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story." -Orson Welles
Unfortunately, not all endings can be happy, especially not in real life. Among new openings and new chefs, there have been some stomachwrenching losses to the New Orleans food world recently, but there's always hope for new endings...ones that won't make our losses so diffi cult to bear.
Many have been worried about the fate of Tujague's after owner Steven Latter passed away and his brother Stanford took over. This historic Decatur Street restaurant was founded in 1856 by Guillame Tujague, who opened in the interest of catering to a blue-collar clientele, namely the dock workers, sailors and market laborers who were always present in that location. When rumor spread about the possible sale of Tujague's, the community cried out for its salvation, and several parties have considered in purchasing the property in the interest of keeping its history intact, including chef and restaurateur John Besh. There is still no decision as of yet, but keep your ears peeled and your fi ngers crossed.
In other worrisome news, famous local chef Frank Brigtsen recently lost the lease for Charlie's Seafood, the classic neighborhood eatery on Jefferson Highway in Harahan. In 2009, Chef Brigtsen leased the restaurant in hopes of continuing the tradition that had existed at the bright blue restaurant since the 50s, but just recently, the landlord wanted to renegotiate for more money. Unfortunately, Brigtsen and his landlord couldn't reach an agreement, which ended in Brigtsen's eviction. The last day of service was on April 19th , and the James Beard Award-winning chef has no plan to reopen Charlie's in a different location...yet.
Yet another closure has happened across town in the French Quarter, inside the Maison Dupuy Hotel. Le Meritage Restaurant, the wine-themed eatery introduced by Chef Michael Farrell more than four years ago, closed its doors last month. Much to the chagrin of its fans, Le Meritage had been warning of its imminent ending on Facebook a few weeks before it shut down, but there were defi nitely hints of something on the horizon. All we can do is wait and see what happens.
On a happier note, the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience and the John Besh Foundation have gathered the nation's best chefs to celebrate the lifetime achievements of Leah Chase on May 25th at the "Funkin' It Up" Fundraiser. Leah Chase will be presented the Ella Brennan Lifetime Achievement Award on a night dedicated to incredible food and fun. That same night, the John Besh Foundation will also award the John Besh and Bride Mayor Chefs Move! Scholarships for Culinary Arts and Pastry Arts for the International Culinary Center in New York. Some of the best chefs in the country will present at this incredible event, including John Besh, Donald Link, John Currence, Aaron Sanchez, Danny Bowien, Michelle Bernstein, David Slater, Jacques Torres, and Michael Anthony.
Ever since the closing of La Cote Brasserie over a year ago, it seems that Chef Chuck Subra has been in a state of limbo at Shula's Steakhouse inside the JW Marriott Hotel. At last, it seems the talented chef once again has a place to shine in the same location under a different name: the Canal Street Grill. The new restaurant is offering "contemporary Cajun cuisine" for every meal of the day.
Galatoire's, one of the oldest and most venerable restaurants in the city, has recently opened a steakhouse on Bourbon Street called Galatoire's 33 Bar & Steak. It's located in a meticulously restored building right next door to the original, which is over 135 years old. The steakhouse has a different, more masculine feel and a menu that features USDA Prime cuts of beef and house specialties like shrimp remoulade and steamed lobster meuniere.
Only a few blocks away on Chartres Street, another new restaurant dubbed Kingfish just threw open its doors. At long last, fans will be free to taste the creations of talented, James Beard Award-winning chef Greg Sonnier. Named after the infamous Louisiana governor and U.S. senator Huey P. Long, Kingfi sh is an "upscale casual" venue offering dishes like Tempura-Battered Deviled Duck Egg, "Duck a la Saulnier" with ramen noodles, and "Junky Chick" Rotisserie. With a distinguished chef like Sonnier in the kitchen, it's only natural they'd choose an equally honorable bartender, and they struck it rich with Chris McMillian. It's a win-win situation for both locals and tourists alike.
Finally, Juicy Lucy's is hosting a fundraiser this month during Memorial Day week encouraging the community to bring food items from May 19th to May 28th . They'll also be holding the 1st ever "JuicyFalotta" burger eating contest on May 26th from 3 to 7 pm with all donations going to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana.