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Soul Food

If you live like I do, in an architecturally interesting but typically uninsulated old New Orleans home, you've probably been drowning your chills as I have been lately -- in soup. Following are my favorite restaurant soups and soup-like dishes of recent memory. What's yours?

Saucy Noodles. Sukho Thai (see Restaurant Review).

Cha-soba. A thin, earthy broth and green soba noodles made with green tea powder. Sushi Cafe (3125 Esplanade Ave., 945-1919).

Caramelized onion soup with a poached hen's egg. Martinique Bistro (5908 Magazine St., 891-8495).

Sweet corn and crawfish soup. Liuzza's by the Track (1518 N. Lopez St., 943-8667).

Milky oyster stew. Casamento's (4330 Magazine St., 895-9761).

White bean, sausage and shrimp soup. Radosta's (249 Aris Ave., Metairie, 831-1588).

Bun bo hue. A fiery beef and noodle soup with lemon grass broth and cool vegetable garnishes. Pho Son (701 Westbank Expressway, Gretna, 362-3322).

Goose and sausage gumbo. Dick & Jenny's (4501 Tchoupitoulas St., 894-9880).

Posole. A pork stew made with hominy and red chile, served weekends only. Taqueria la Mexicana (1160 Terry Parkway, Terrytown, 433-4013).

Mussels steamed with white wine and garlic, crowned with a freightload of French fries. Lulu's in the Garden (2203 St. Charles Ave., 586-9956).

Changing Hands

Founding owner Hubert Sandot recently sold Martinique Bistro to restaurateur Cristiano Raffignone, who also owns Cristiano's in Houma. Following a brief renovation break in January, the restaurant reopened with a new paint job, refreshed landscaping in the courtyard, a larger restroom and wall sconces from Italy. The changes are otherwise minimal. Most of Sandot's staff remained, including the chef of three and a half years, Kevin Reese.

Changing Hands, Part II

Vega Tapas Cafe (2051 Metairie Road, Metairie, 836-2007) is also under new ownership. Longtime General Manager Glen Hogh purchased the restaurant from Alison Vega, who has moved to Antigua with her chef-husband Drew Knoll (formerly of Emeril's Delmonico). Hogh's first move as owner was to hire New Orleans native Zac Robertson to run Vega's kitchen.

Court in Session

A new Byblos counter makes the food court at Lakeside Shopping Center (3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie) a more dynamic place to dine. The restaurant's latest Mediterranean outpost (there are Byblos restaurants in Metairie, Old Metairie and Uptown) serves characteristically inexpensive -- and quite good -- rotisserie chicken, gyro platters, Greek-style salads and falafel sandwiches, among other signatures.

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