Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Milkfish on the move

Posted By on Tue, Jul 23, 2013 at 8:28 AM

A dish of milkfish with shrimp in curry sauce at Milkfish.
  • IAN MCNULTY
  • A dish of milkfish with shrimp in curry sauce at Milkfish.

Milkfish is the place to find Filipino food in New Orleans, but first you have to find Milkfish and that’s become a little trickier lately.

Early in 2012 Christina Quackenbush started Milkfish as a one-night pop-up inside RioMar, where she worked at the time, to showcase the cooking of her native Philippines. The venture evolved rapidly and by last fall it had a more-or-less conventional restaurant format, serving dinner six nights a week inside the Who Dat Coffee Café in the Marigny.

Her arrangement with the café ended abruptly earlier this month, and Quackenbush found herself without a dining room. But now she has two and is shuttling her business between a pair of unrelated Italian restaurants downtown three days a week.

“We have some generous chefs in this town,” she says. “When people heard I needed a new space, the phone started ringing.”

Milkfish now serves its full menu on Sundays inside a Mano in the Warehouse District, and on Mondays and Tuesdays inside Cibugnù, which opened recently a few blocks away. Milkfish is open at each location from noon to 10 p.m., and delivery is available around the neighborhood.

Quackenbush says she hopes to reopen in her own space soon to resume more regular service.

Milkfish, which is named for a popular fish in Filipino cooking, is one of the more interesting pop-up concepts to come along in New Orleans (here's our recent review). Its menu starts with traditional Filipino flavors, a jungly mix of Latin American, Chinese and southeast Asian cooking, though from there Qauckenbush often works in more contemporary styles and presentations.

Before leaving the Who Dat Coffee Café, Quackenbush had added a “Filipino-inspired cocktail menu,” with ingredients like purple yam, ginger tea, lemongrass and coconut. She is serving those drinks at her pop-up locations now.

Meanwhile, Who Dat Coffee Café owner Craig Nero has brought on a new chef, Tim Wilkerson, to oversee an expanded breakfast, lunch and brunch menu. He says they plan to add dinner service by the fall.

a Mano
870 Tchoupitoulas St., (504) 208-9280

Cibugnù
709 St. Charles Ave., (504) 558-8990

Who Dat Coffee Café
2401 Burgundy St., (504) 872-0360

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