Food News - December 19, 2012

00:00 December 19, 2012
By: Kim Ranjbar

There simply is no period of rest after the busy holiday season, after crazy days of shopping, feasting, gifting and drinking we embark directly into parading, marching, throw-collecting and yet more feasting...let's be honest, we never stop feasting. King cake season is upon us and the crawfish are plumping up to just the right size, not to mention the oysters that are still salty and fat. Who has time to rest? Definitely not the purveyors of our local food scene...

Magazine Street eatery Salú Small Plates & Wine Bar hired a brand new executive chef, one Dustin Brien hailing all the way from North Andover, Mass. Chef Brien has worked his way up through the ranks, beginning his career as a dishwasher when he was 15 and making his way to lead line cook before leaving for college. Through hard work and determination, he scaled the ladder to Sous Chef at the age of 21 before he even graduated from culinary school. At Union Bar & Grill in Boston, Chef Brien learned the true meaning of fine dining through his mentor Stephen Sherman. Under his guidance, Brien gained the promotion of Sous Chef and proceeded to win several “Best of Boston” awards including “Best Brunch” and ”Best American Restaurant.” We look forward to sampling his work at Salú and are excited to see how his creativity will effect the already popular menu.

Yet another restaurant has flung open its doors down in the Bywater. Dubbed Booty's, this new incarnation located on the corner of Louisa and Dauphine, features “tapas-style, international street food and world-infused cocktails.” Owners Kevin Farrell and Nick Vivion tout a menu, which includes cuisine from Puerto Rico, India and Vietnam, just to name a few, and features dishes like banh mi with pork belly and Thai hand rolls. Booty's joins the ranks of other Bywater restaurants like Satsuma Cafe, Maurepas Foods, The Joint and Pizza Delicious that have changed the culinary face of the neighborhood.

If you live Uptown and find yourself craving freshly baked sweets late at night, no need to fret, just call Baked! Of Nola. Open Wednesday, Friday and Sunday nights, you can call them up and get batches of chocolate chip, double chocolate chip, peanut butter or cinnamon cookies delivered right to your door. In fact, on Fridays and Sundays, Baked! Of Nola delivers as late as 2 a.m. According to an online profile, the business owner is a mysterious young, local woman by the name of “Kelle O.” who has an intense passion for cooking and baking and has been selling her sweets in local coffee shops for some time now. It's midnight! Who wants a cookie?

“Sandwiches make a good snack, but sammiches are forever.” A brand-spanking-new restaurant has popped up inside of music club Chickie Wah Wah on Canal Street, called The Sammich with a menu that has its friends on Facebook drooling with each successive picture. The Sammich doesn't serve just any old sandwich; you won't find deli meats and cheeses slapped together between whole wheat with mayo and mustard here. Instead, get your salivary glands in gear for items like Shredded Duck Confit with Foie Gras Aioli and Blackened Oyster with Crystal Hot Sauce Beurre Blanc. The Sammich also offers “small plates” of Crispy Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Deviled Eggs with Louisiana Jumbo Lump Crab food just keeps getting better.

On the mobile front, there's a new food truck in town. The Fat Falafel is being driven by chefs Teresa Galli and Gavin Cady, who want nothing more than to offer "delicious, affordable and socially responsible street food." Both chefs worked at well-known and beloved establishments, Teresa from Patois and Gavin from Domenica, before throwing it all in for the love of falafel. The menu features the best basics, falafel, hummus, baba ghanouj, homemade pita bread and creamy tahini, not to mention French fries...because what goes better with falafel?

Finally, a proposed restaurant on the corner of Rampart and Esplanade is riling up the neighborhood. Developer Sean Meenan wants to open Habana Outpost, one of a small chain of restaurants in New York. The proposal is being met with fierce opposition by a small group of well-known and well-connected individuals who have established a website devoted to this protest,, and have posted angry signs in the surrounding community. Meenan's plans to combine two lots into one for a two-story, Cuban restaurant seating approximately 400 with a large outdoor courtyard and live music. The biggest reasons for the neighborhood protest seem to be about "quality of life" for the people of the community that will be affected by lack of parking, noise levels and modern additions like solar panels, which don't fit into the overall historic feel of the French Quarter. Modern Cuban restaurant or blighted gas station – what's your opinion on the matter?

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