In 1893, the luxurious Grunewald Hotel opened just across Canal Street from the French Quarter. After changing hands a few times and undergoing several renovations and alterations, it took on its present incarnation as the Roosevelt Hotel.
The hotel is home of the renowned Sazerac Bar, which is given credit for helping popularize both the Sazerac and the Ramos Gin Fizz cocktail—invented by Henry C. Ramos in 1888. The Roosevelt Hotel is also known for its great rooftop pool and bar, its 504 fancy rooms, and some of the best holiday light displays around with 100,000 white twinkly lights decorating the lobby.
The Roosevelt has hosted the likes of Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe and Grace Kelly. Even big wig political figures such as Dwight Eisenhower and Bill Clinton have passed through the illustrious hotel. Former governor Huey P. Long spent so much time there that he had his very own suite. And he was so enamored of the famous Ramos Gin Fizz that he brought a bartender from the Roosevelt with him to New York City so he could have his cocktail made the way he liked it, at his whim.
The Roosevelt has long been a great place to meet, to eat and to drink. Along with the Sazerac Bar, there is the less-known but just as noteworthy Fountain Lounge, also located in the hotel lobby. Opened in 1938, the lounge is known as “a place for conversation, cocktails, entertainment and beyond.” According to a representative for the hotel, “It’s always been a great place for champagne-drinking and music-listening.” Take their “Bubbly Tuesdays,” for instance, where all champagnes by the glass are half price. And they have live music several nights a week.
But now there’s added incentive to come by the Fountain Lounge, and this time it’s all about the food just as much as the drink. Chef de Cuisine Cody Curl has created a fresh new menu just in time for summer. It’s so good, Huey P. Long is probably turning over in his grave because he’s missing out on it.
The Lounge is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch. Try the Fried Goat Cheese salad with locally-sourced greens, oranges, pistachios and a delicious sugarcane vinaigrette which adds just the right amount of sweetness to the dish. The salad is then topped with three fried goat cheese medallions. Fried cheese. Enough said.
There’s also the Grilled Shrimp Scampi with creamy parmesan risotto, garlic herb butter, and homemade grilled bread. Just like Mama should have made. Or, opt for the Crab and Crawfish Au Gratin. Made with a three-cheese béchamel and served with more of that great bread for dipping, it’s the perfect dish to share while sipping a glass of bubbly.
The Creole Turtle Soup is also amazing, and it’s served with a sunny-side-up quail egg and bacon smoked in-house. The not-so-secret ingredient that makes it taste so darn good might be the ten bottles of sherry that Chef Curl pours in per batch. Granted, a batch could probably feed a busload of tourists checking into the hotel, but the soup nonetheless has lots of flavor.
Chef Curl learned at a young age—from his grandmother and taking care of his sisters growing up—the concept of family gathering around the table, and making people happy through food. It’s an approach that he still brings to his cooking today. Chef Curl says that he likes to come up with simple recipes using simple ingredients that complement each other without overthinking it.
“The food should speak for itself,” he says. “I just want to cook food that people will enjoy—delicious food that appeals to people.”
He definitely achieves that. Come by the Fountain Lounge and taste for yourself.