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AMERICAN CONTEMPORARY 

Austin's Restaurant
5101 W. Esplanade Ave., Metairie 888-5533
This 3-year-old restaurant, already a weekly destination for many in Jeff Parish, comes from the same family that gave New Orleans Mr. Ed's. Their menu can be described as loosely Creole Italian. The the veal, seafood and steaks are the main crowd-pleasers. The mood, the staff says, is casual but still sophisticated. No reservations. Dinner Mon.-Sat. Credit cards. $$

BAYONA
430 Dauphine St. 525-4455; www.bayona.com
A 200-year-old Creole cottage in the heart of the French Quarter sets the stage for chef Susan Spicer's culinary romp around the globe. Some mainstays include Spicer's goat cheese crouton with mushrooms in Madeira cream to start and the sauteed Pacific salmon with choucroute and Gewurztraminer sauce as a main course. Reservations recommended. Lunch Wed.-Fri., dinner Tue.-Sat. Credit cards. $$$

BOMBAY CLUB
830 Conti St. (Prince Conti Hotel) 586-0972; www.thebombayclub.com
The Bombay Club offers food served in a British imperial setting of polished wood and refined elegance. The menu features Asian fried calamari tossed in a sweet and spicy chili sauce and served with wasabi sour cream, fennel-encrusted swordfish with wild rice and linguine with lamb meatballs in a pesto cream sauce and, for dessert, apple and pecan empanadas. Reservations recommended. Dinner Tue.-Sun., brunch Sun. Credit cards. $$$

CHAD'S BISTRO
3216 W. Esplanade Ave., Metairie 838-9935
Word is spreading about this new Metairie spot that features a good wine list and a slew of tasty surf-n-turf options by Chef Gerald Alvero. With everything from roast chicken to pizzas to lamb shanks, from oyster-artichoke soup to steaks to crab cakes, this menu can appease any appetite. The late-night munchy selections are good with a cocktail or bottle of wine. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner Mon.-Sat., late-night Wed.-Sat. Credit cards. $$

THE CHEESESTEAK BISTRO
528 N. Columbia St., Covington (985) 875-9793
Skip ahead to the namesake dessert specialty at this Al Copeland restaurant and you miss the extensive menu of savory fare. The bistro offers an extensive salad selection, rotisserie chicken, sandwiches, pizzas and pasta, seafood platters, steaks and signature dishes like the stacked eggplant Napoleon with fried oysters. And, of course, cheesecake. No reservations. Breakfast and lunch Mon.-Sat. Credit cards and checks. $

CRYSTAL ROOM
833 Poydras St. (Le Pavillon Hotel) 581-3111; www.lepavillon.com
Rise and shine for a breakfast of bananas Foster waffle Le Pavillon served in a soaring dining room with elegance fit for royalty. For weekday lunches, the hotel rolls out a sprawling buffet of soups, salads, sandwiches and made-to-order pastas under its glittering chandeliers. Evening brings a la carte dining with a menu of French cuisine and Louisiana specialties. Reservations accepted. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$$

FIRE! A RESTAURANT
1377 Annunciation St. 566-1950; www.firearestaurant.com
New Orleans hospitality meets a menu inspired by culinary romps through Napa Valley at this stylish, comfortable restaurant built in a historic firehouse. The new winter menu features black bean and tasso soup, a warm pear and pancetta salad, braised short ribs, and the Òstinking roseÓ flatbread topped with plenty of garlic, caramelized onions, smoked gouda and chicken or shrimp. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner Tue.-Sat. Credit cards. $$

HERBSAINT BAR & RESTAURANT
701 St. Charles Ave. 524-4114; www.herbsaint.com
Simply prepared yet creative dishes, affordable yet distinctive wines and a spirited, informal atmosphere are the hallmarks of Herbsaint. The menu focus is a contemporary take on French-American bistro cuisine prepared by Executive Chef and co-owner Donald Link. Recommended specialties include shrimp with green chile grits cake and chili-glazed Kurobuta pork belly with beluga lentils and mint. Reservations recommended. Lunch Mon.-Fri., dinner Mon.-Sat. Credit cards $$$

IRIS
8115 Jeannette St. 862-5848
Iris is situated in two rooms of a cute little New Orleans-style house that formerly hosted the Mango House. The 11 tables make it a cozy and comfortable neighborhood bistro, and its American-contemporary cuisine is a departure from the traditional Creole fare found at many of our neighborhood restaurants. Seared tuna with Pecorino, arugula and extra-virgin olive oil or handmade ravioli with veal cheeks may wean you away from dishes doused in Òred sauceÓ forever. Reservations recommended. Dinner Mon.-Sat. Credit cards. $$

KABBY'S ON THE RIVER
2 Poydras St. (Hilton New Orleans Riverside Hotel) 584-3880; www.emarketing360.com/hilton/no/hnor
Kabby's on the River will resume Sunday brunch beginning Feb. 12, returning another New Orleans tradition as locals and visitors dine before the broad windows facing the rolling Mississippi River. Call for hours. Credit cards. $$$

LA COTE BRASSERIE
700 Tchoupitoulas St. (Renaissance Arts Hotel) 613-2350; www.lacotebrasserie.com
For a seafood dining experience that doesn't stick to one shore, check out the globe-trotting menu at La Cote Brasserie. Consider the cedar-plank-roasted lobster with red rice, hibachi scallops with Chinese mustard sprouts and ponzu sauce, pan-seared red snapper or glazed salmon. The raw bar serves fresh seasonal oysters from a variety of locales, along with shrimp, crab, seafood salads and Maine lobster. Reservations accepted. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, brunch Sunday. Credit cards. $$

LA PETITE GROCERY
4238 Magazine St. 891-3377
A corner grocery store turned French bistro, La Petite Grocery's reputation for fine dining is anything but petite. The kitchen is known for mainstays such as the foie gras, a wild mushroom tart appetizer and housemade boudin. Lined with mirrors and subtle lighting, the attractive dining room exudes classic elegance. Reservations recommended. Dinner Tue.-Sat. Credit cards. $$$

ONE RESTAURANT & LOUNGE
8132 Hampson St. 301-9061; www.one-sl.com
Bold flavors and innovative ideas power the menu at One, the Riverbend restaurant that won a loyal local following immediately after opening last year. For reasons why, see the sauteed herb gnocchi with cherry tomatoes and the pan-seared rainbow trout with mussels and basmati rice pilaf in lobster-parsley nage. Reservations accepted. Dinner Mon.-Sat. Credit cards. $$

RALPH'S ON THE PARK
900 City Park Ave. 488-1000; www.ralphsonthepark.com
Ralph Brennan ventured away from the French Quarter and renovated the 1860 two-story restaurant on the site of the former Tavern on the Park. The balcony looks out on the massive oaks of City Park, and diners look forward to the butter-crusted baked baby drum, lamb chops and oysters Ralph. The menu changes periodically, so an element of surprise is built into the experience. Reservations recommended. Dinner Tue.-Sat. Credit cards. $$$

Restaurant Cypress
4426 Transcontinental Drive, Metairie 885-6885
Contemporary American cuisine is on the menu at Restaurant Cypress, tucked away at a busy intersection deep in Metairie. Sesame shrimp combines sauteed shrimp with habanero peppers and a sesame glaze in a comfortably spicy dish served with vegetable-fried rice. Baby white veal is layered with portobello and crab meat stuffing and served with asparagus in a champagne beurre-blanc. No reservations. Dinner Tue.-Sat. Credit cards. $$

STANLEY!
1031 Decatur St. 587-0091; www.restaurantstanley.com
Among the very first restaurants to open in New Orleans after Katrina, Stanley! is the casual breakfast and lunch caf — that shares a chef with the upscale restaurant Stella! just a block away. At breakfast, try the eggs Benedict po-boy with poached eggs, smoked Canadian bacon and hollandaise sauce on French bread and return at lunchtime for oyster and soft-shell crab po-boys and the distinctive Korean barbecue beef tenderloin po-boy with kimchee. No reservations. Breakfast and lunch daily. Credit cards. $

SUGAR HOUSE
315 Julia St. (Embassy Suites Hotel) 525-1993; www.embassysuites.com/es/neworleans
The Sugar House restaurant is named for the Henderson Sugar Mill that once stood here before the '84 World's Fair. Now it is home to a New Orleans-style lunch and dinner buffet. The menu theme changes nightly and can range from Asian to barbecue. Mondays are always reserved for red beans and rice. No reservations. Lunch and dinner buffet daily. Credit cards. $$

TCHOUP-N-JOE'S
870 Tchoupitoulas St. 581-2858
Located in the heart of the Warehouse District, Tchoup-n-Joe's serves classic bar food and local favorites in a stylish, contemporary setting. Pull up a seat at the antique mahogany bar and share some nachos with friends or dig into burgers, big salads and shrimp po-boys. Lunch and dinner daily. Cash or checks. $

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