First With Pho
Two weeks ago Doson, the Vietnamese chef at Chinese's Chinese (8128 Oak St., 861-7449), became the first Uptown chef I'm aware of to serve pho (Vietnamese beef noodle soup). So far, he offers just one version (a restaurant specializing in pho might have 15), made with chewy beef balls, extremely tender brisket, rice noodles, cilantro and green onion. The light broth last week was tangier than most I've tried, and the usual flavors of cinnamon, star anise and ginger were almost non-existent. As expected, it came with raw mung bean sprouts, fresh basil and hoisin and chile sauces for self-garnishing. At $7.95, it's the most expensive pho I've seen in the area, though convenience and late hours (Chinese's is open until 10 p.m.) might alleviate some of the sting.
Chef Greg Sonnier and chef-partner-wife Mary are settling into the one-restaurant life again after selling Gamay Bistro (320 Decatur St., 299-8800) in the spring. At Gabrielle (3201 Esplanade Ave., 948-6233) they offer three-course early bird dinners from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday for $16.95; lunches on Friday (the only day they serve lunch) operate on the same three-course concept. In addition, every night there's a three-course mix-and-match offering of higher-end appetizers, entrees and desserts that runs between $20 and $25. This is Chef Greg's outlet for creativity and your opportunity to cash in on a bargain.
The Louisiana citrus season has commenced with satsumas and lemons at the Crescent City Farmers Market (and likely in some area supermarkets as well).