New Orleanians love to talk about restaurants, and the Zagat Survey, the international guidebook publisher, wants to hear what they have to say. Zagat is producing its 2007 edition of New Orleans Restaurants and Nightlife and is inviting the public to participate through an online survey. Go to www.zagat.com and find the links for active surveys, which list sections for New Orleans restaurants, nightlife and attractions. Once you register online, you can access a list of establishments selected by Zagat for review. For restaurants, surveyors are asked to rate the food, dcor and service on a scale of zero to three, to estimate the cost of a meal and to enter any comments they have about the place. Zagat says those who participate by the Aug. 9 deadline will receive a free copy of the guide when it is published. Zagat began covering New Orleans restaurants in 1991, publishing a new guide every other year. Zagat added a nightlife section about bars and clubs in 2002. Approximately 3,000 people participated in the 2005 New Orleans survey.
New Farmers Market in Luling
The German Coast Farmers' Market (985-758-2593; www.GermanCoastFarmersMarket.org) has expanded, opening a second market every Wednesday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. outside Dougie V's Restaurant (13899 River Road., Luling, 985-785-1399), which is located adjacent to the Luling Bridge on the West Bank. Look for locally grown produce, seafood, baked goods, meats and hot meals prepared using products from the market. There is live music and Dougie V's operates a German-style beer garden. The original German Coast Farmers' Market, which began in 2003, continues every Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon at Ormond Plantation (13786 River Road., Destrehan, 985-764-8544; www.plantation.com).
The latest concept from the Taste Buds — the group of restaurateurs behind the New Orleans-based Semolina and Zea chains — is open for business Uptown in a former Semolina location with a sleek new dining room and a revamped menu. Now called Semolina's Bistro Italia (3226 Magazine St., 895-4260), the restaurant is the model the nine other Semolina locations across Louisiana will eventually adopt. Taste Buds sold Semolina to other investors in 1998, but in 2005 began acquiring it again through a debt-buyback scenario. Company president Gary Darling says despite Semolina's original concept as a multi-ethnic restaurant serving noodle dishes from around the globe, most people identified it as an Italian restaurant. "We quit fighting it and decided to do an Italian restaurant," Darling says. So Bistro Italia has a selection of pastas and Italian-style fish, meat and chicken dishes. A handful of the most popular dishes from the previous Semolina's menu survive here, however, including a pad Thai, enchilada pasta and the wedge of baked macaroni and cheese. Most entrees on the extensive menu are between $13 and $17.