Fall is in the air, the kids are back in school, and everyone in the restaurant industry keeps chugging along with an unbelievable amount of new restaurant openings and helm changes. Will they be able to keep up the pace? Only time will tell...
Pastry Chef Megan Forman who formerly worked for Susan Spicer's Bayona and the ever popular Sucré, recently opened her own business, Gracious Bakery & Cafe. Located at 1000 S. Jeff Davis Pkwy. inside the ground floor of the Woodward Design Building, the brand new bakery offers delicate pastries, coffee, specialty sandwiches, cakes and other desserts. Stop in for a Tarragon Chicken Salad Sandwich on green onion bread, grab a few, freshly-baked sourdough baguettes or something sweet like Cocoa Nib & Dried Orange "Rocher."
Those avid consumers of hot dogs in the French Quarter seeking an option other than the ever-present Lucky Dog carts can now get their fill of franks at Dreamy Weenies. Located on the edge of the Vieux Carré on Rampart Street, this new weenie haven offers a variety of dogs and toppings with something to please every taste and diet. Owners Nasr Nance and Ahmad Shakir planned a menu that offers turkey, beef (halal & kosher), lamb and even vegan-style hot dogs, so you can literally dream up your favorite weenie!
Chef Ryan Hughes has been replaced at Johnny V's Bistro by Armand Jonté, but the Chef Ryan hasn't slowed down one iota. Hughes has been chosen to head the new restaurant Purloo slated to open in February 2013 inside the Southern Food & Beverage Museum's new digs. Plus, he recently accepted a gig to act as a consulting chef for Dijon on Annunciation Street. Hughes will assist in kitchen efficiency and menu planning until the Lower Garden District restaurant hires a new head chef.
Over on St. Charles Avenue, the swanky cocktail bar Twist recently launched a new "pop-up" dubbed Koi. Chef Mike Fennelly of Mike's on the Avenue whips up Asianinspired cuisine every Wednesday evening with a menu that features hand-made sushi rolls, noodle bowls, salads, and Vietnamese po-boys. There are also sake flights and other unique cocktails to sip. Stop in on the next hump day and enjoy dishes like the "Creole Roll" with blackened red fish or Korean BBQ with house-made kimchee.
There's a new competitor in the New Orleans grocery market. The Fresh Market recently opened the doors of its fourth store at the old Borders location on St. Charles Avenue. The national grocery chain is modeled after "old world" markets that "appeal to all the senses," with soft music, lighting and décor, the scent of baked bread and just-brewed coffee. Specializing in perishable goods, The Fresh Market lives up to its name by offering only the freshest produce, meat and seafood available. They offer full-service meat and seafood counters, ready-to-serve entrées, a large bakery and more than 200 domestic and imported cheeses. Fresh Market's "crispie" cookies are thin, crunchy cookie flats that beg for ice, cold milk… also available in store.
Finally, Dante's Kitchen's/Rusty Nail popular barbeque pop up has stopped popping in anticipation of its very own brick and mortar. Owner Neil McClure of McClure's BBQ is in the process of securing an Uptown location for his tangy 'que; delicious details forthcoming. Taking over the Rusty Nail's pop-up scene is Hoof & Cleaver, rocking "whole hog cooking" in the guise of White BBQ Sliders with Feta and Smoked Tomato Fries on the side.
There's no better way to sum up dining in New Orleans, than We Live to Eat; according to the Louisiana Restaurant Association's second annual campaign of the same moniker. The upcoming week-long celebration of this regions' unique cuisine offers locals the occasion to continue support of their favorite restaurants as well as venture out to new eateries they haven't had the chance to try with special prix fixe menus. So far, 36 restaurants will offer two-course lunches at $20 and three-course dinners for $35 with at least one Louisiana seafood option at each restaurant. Visit WeLiveToEatNOLA.com to peruse the list of restaurants, their menus and make reservations.