After four years at the French Quarter gastropub Sylvain, chef Alex Harrell left in mid-fall 2014 to open his own restaurant. Named for his mother, Angeline (1032 Chartres St.; www.angelinenola.com) opens in the Hotel Provincial (www.hotelprovincial.com) Tuesday, filling the space formerly occupied by chef Scott Boswell's Stella!.
Harrell's menu focuses on Gulf seafood and modern takes on Southern cuisine, and there are some Italian and Mediterranean accents. Harrell says Southern food has been stereotyped as, "heavy, fried everything, over-cooked vegetables and pork everywhere." His vision is a cleaner, brighter, fresher one, and he finds some common ground with Italian cooking. He explains the concept through his butter bean tortellini.
"The butter bean tortellini personifies our philosophy," he says. "It's a take on a traditional Italian dish from Bologna, tortellini en brodo. We view it through a Southern lens. The tortellini are filled with butter beans and ricotta, and lemon zest and herbs brighten it. Red eye gravy is something you see in the South, but typically on biscuits in the morning. We make a broth so there's the flavors of ham, coffee and a touch of bourbon."
The opening menu also features Southen-fried quail over hoe cake with local honey and house-made hot sauce and Mississippi rabbit Milanese with smoked carrot puree, spoon bread, bacon, braised collard greens and tomato gravy. There also is a charcuterie board with cured meats, pickles, cheese, cherry confiture and grain mustard. The menu will focus on local, seasonal produce and be updated often, Harrell says.
Harrell grew up in Alabama and got his first taste of restaurant work one summer at a Florida beach seafood restaurant. Professionally, he worked locally with chef Susan Spicer at Bayona, with chef Gerard Maras at Gerard's Downtown and at Ralph's on the Park.
Angeline serves dinner daily, and breakfast and weekend brunches will be added in coming months.