When Deuce McAllister's Ole Saint (132 Royal St., 504-309-4797; www.olesaint.com) celebrated its grand opening party on February 15, Krewe du Vieux was rolling through the French Quarter. Last week, the restaurant hosted a party for members of Krewe du Boo, bringing it almost halfway through the parade calendar. In this and almost every other aspect, ranging from the menu to the raw materials from which the restaurant is built, Ole Saint shows its local love.
Housed in the Wyndham New Orleans hotel, the restaurant's floors and ceiling feature reclaimed wood from homes destroyed by hurricanes. The decor is a nod to the places and dishes that make New Orleans unique.
"We know New Orleans is special," says executive chef Jared Tees, a 25-year veteran of the local culinary scene. "We want to support our local farms like Covey Rise Farms, which delivers us all our produce."
The Ole Saint offers breakfast, lunch and dinner in a relaxed atmosphere. It also features craft beers, televisions and a private room for larger parties. Through televising football games and offering more than 40 beers on tap, along with New Orleans cuisine, owners Paul, Scott and Steven Ballard hope to serve a mix of locals and tourists. "We want it to be a local feel-good place where you can come and get great oysters,," Tees says.
"We have ... a really delicious menu that's not your tourist fare," says Reid Nolte, director of marketing for Ballard Brands, the restaurant group which owns Ole Saint, City Diner, Wow Cafe and other local brands.. "The Ole Saint menu offers unique items such as a BLT and softshell crab sandwich, smoked duck sausage gumbo and Mississippi rabbit pot pie."
Regional brews pair well with the Southern coastal cuisine. "Everything on tap you'll find is a regional craft-brewed beer from Georgia to Texas," Tees says. "Our bartenders are constantly tweaking and evolving the cocktail list. That's the approach for our people, to help the evolution of the business." Happy hour is from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and features $1 oyster shooters.
Ole Saint's coffee and tea selection comes from PJ's Coffee, another Ballard Brands company. "Having the roasting facility up the street and having [coffee] delivered to our back door during the week makes a huge difference in the quality," Tees says.
In the most visible local touch, the restaurant's name is a tribute to former Ole Miss and New Orleans Saints' running back Deuce McAllister. "His paraphernalia lines the front of the place," Tees says. "Now that we are open, we hope to get him more involved."