Fans of the now-closed restaurant Gabrielle can get a little taste of its former chef/owner's cooking tonight, Sept. 15, at Clever. Greg Sonnnier will sit in tonight as guest tapas chef, preparing small plates for sale from the Mid-City wine bar beginning at 6 p.m.
Greg Sonnier and his wife, the pastry chef Mary Sonnier, first opened Gabrielle in 1992, and two years later Food & Wine Magazine named him to its top-10 list of the nation's "Best New Chefs." In 2002, the same magazine included him on its "Selective Guide to America's Superchefs."
The Sonniers also ran a second restaurant, Gamay, in the French Quarter, which they sold to new owners in 2002. That restaurant later closed and is now the home of Iris (which is co-owned, in a full-circle-New-Orleans kind of way, by one-time Gamay waitress Laurie Casebonne).
After Katrina, the Sonniers decided to move Gabrielle from Esplanade Avenue to a larger building they bought near their Uptown home on Henry Clay Avenue. A group of neighbors successfully blocked those plans, though, as Times Picayune restaurant writer Brett Anderson has covered in detail.
Sonnier later took the reigns as executive chef of the Grill Room at the Windsor Court Hotel, an arrangement that ended not quite a year later in the spring of 2008.
Clever hosts guest chefs for tapas each Tuesday evening, with mainstay Dan Esses and other chefs alternating the weeks ahead.