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Gambit's 2012 Winter Restaurant Guide: Contemporary 

THE AMERICAN SECTOR The National World War II Museum, 945 Magazine St., 528-1940; www.national-ww2museum.org Chef John Besh gives American favorites a gourmet upgrade. Beef short ribs are served with mac and cheese. Chicken and dumplings is another home-style favorite. The bar also offers a craft cocktail menu and milk shakes. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

BAYONA 430 Dauphine St., 525-4455; www.bayona.com Chef Susan Spicer accents her cooking with ingredients from around the globe. Order a sandwich of smoked duck, cashew-peanut butter and pepper jelly on multigrain bread. The goat cheese crouton is a toasted 12-grain crouton topped with sauteed mushrooms and Madeira cream sauce. Reservations recommended. Lunch Wed.-Sat., dinner Mon.-Sat. Credit cards. $$$

BISTREAUX 1001 Toulouse St., 586-8000; 3838 N. Causeway Blvd., 832-3838; www.maisondepuy.com The cochon de lait sandwich features pulled pork, pickles, provolone, basil aioli and hot mustard on ciabatta. Truffle mac and cheese combines pasta with Monterey Jack, Gouda and Parmesan cheeses and a drizzle of truffle oil. No reservations. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

BISTRO BYRONZ 1901 Hwy. 190, Mandeville, (985) 951-7595; www.bistrobyronz.com An off-menu favorite is the blue cheese steak, which includes two broiled tenderloin tails with blue cheese, grilled asparagus and salad. The Wednesday special is a 14-oz. rib-eye with a loaded Yukon gold potato. Reservations accepted for large parties. Lunch and dinner Mon.-Sat. Credit cards. $$

BOUCHE 840 Tchoupitoulas St., 267-7485; www.bouchenola.com Bouche is a spacious wine bar and restaurant. Entrees include a smoked 8-oz. filet with chocolate demi-glace, asparagus and purple mashed potatoes. Seared duck breast is served with sweet potato waffles and warm berry reduction sauce. Reservations recommended. Dinner Mon.-Sat., late-night Fri.-Sat. Credit cards. $$$

BOULIGNY TAVERN 3641 Magazine St., 891-1810; www.boulignytavern.com Chef John Harris' elegant tavern serves craft cocktails, an eclectic selection of wines and gourmet bites. Gouda beignets are airy fried cheese and dough puffs. Fried gnocchi are served with Parmesan and truffle oil. No reservations. Dinner and late-night Mon.-Sat. Credit cards. $

CAFE AMELIE 912 Royal St., 412-8965; www.cafeamelie.com Step through a pretty French Quarter courtyard to find Cafe Amelie. Oven-roasted pork chops are served with corn and andouille macque choux. Slow-cooked lamb shank is served with local root vegetables, natural jus and organic stone-ground grits. Reservations recommended. Lunch and dinner Wed.-Sun., brunch Sat.-Sun. Credit cards. $$

CAFE LYNN 3051 E. Causeway Approach, Mandeville, (985) 624-9007; www.cafelynn.com Baked eggplant is stuffed with shrimp, crabmeat, sauteed vegetables, Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs. The pan-seared quail is covered in demi-glace and served with vegetables and potatoes. All entrees come with a salad. Reservations recommended. Lunch Tue.-Fri., dinner Tue.-Sun., brunch Sun. Credit cards. $$$

CHAD'S BISTRO 3216 W. Esplanade Ave., Metairie, 838-9935; www.chadsbistro.com The seafood Napoleon layers crabmeat between fried eggplant medallions on a bed of angel hair pasta topped with shrimp au gratin. The seafood boat comes with fried shrimp, catfish and oysters served in a bread boat with fries. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

COQUETTE 2800 Magazine St., 265-0421; www.coquette-nola.com Sweet potato gnocchi with black winter truffles is served with sorghum brown butter and house-made city ham. Roasted Gulf oysters are served with fennel-and-bacon ragout, and horseradish cream. Reservations recommended. Lunch Wed.-Sat., dinner Mon.-Sun. Credit cards. $$$

CRYSTAL ROOM AT LE PAVILLON 833 Poydras St., 620-8899; www.lepavillon.com Herbsaint oysters are fried and served over grilled tomatoes with tasso and spinach cream. Paneed veal coated with Italian seasonings and breadcrumbs is topped with crabmeat and lemon butter and served with a vegetable and bread. Reservations accepted. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, brunch Sun. Credit cards. $$

CURE 4905 Freret St., 302-2357; www.curenola.com The contemporary cocktail bar offers Sazerac roasted almonds and roasted butternut squash tartine finished with feta cheese and fried sage. The short rib debris sandwich features red wine-braised Black Angus short rib, Gruyere and onion jam. Reservations accepted for large parties. Dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $$

THE DELACHAISE 3442 St. Charles Ave., 895-0858; www.thedelachaise.com Mofongo relleno de pollo guisado translates to a helping of mashed fried plantains with stewed chicken and roasted poblano sauce. The flank steak bruschetta features grilled marinated steak, shaved manchego cheese and Peruvian garlic spread on ciabatta crostini. No reservations. Lunch Fri.-Sun., dinner and late-night daily. Credit cards. $$

EMERIL'S DELMONICO 1300 St. Charles Ave., 525-4937; www.emerils.com Beignet-sized crab croquettes are presented with mirliton slaw, cilantro and sweet pepper marmalade. Confit duck leg is served with barley risotto, roasted beets and marinated sugar snap peas. Reservations recommended. Dinner daily. Credit cards. $$$

GAUTREAU'S RESTAURANT 1728 Soniat St., 899-7397; www.gautreausrestaurant.com Veal osso buco is served with toasted fregola, baby carrots and grilled leeks, and garnished with gremolata, a dice of lemon zest and garlic. Sauteed halibut is offered with preserved lemon, yogurt, tabbouleh, fried artichoke hearts and roasted pepper chutney. Reservations recommended. Dinner Mon.-Sat. Credit cards and checks. $$$

THE GREEN GODDESS 307 Exchange Alley, 301-3347; www.greengoddessnola.com The crispy pressed crab sandwich fills Dong Phuong French bread with Lafitte blue crab, Robiola cheese and remoulade and is served with salad. Bruleed apple French toast is filled with brandied apple filling and finished with melted manchego, bruleed sugar and chicory cane syrup. No reservations. Lunch and brunch Wed.-Mon., dinner Wed.-Sun. Credit cards. $$

THE GRILL ROOM AT THE WINDSOR COURT 300 Gravier St., 522-1994; www.grillroomneworleans.comGrilled Hudson Valley foie gras comes as an appetizer. Entrees include a slow-cooked rack of Niman Ranch lamb. Reservations recommended. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, brunch Sun. Credit cards. $$$

HOUSE OF BLUES 225 Decatur St., 310-4999; www.houseofblues.com The meatball sliders are two slow-braised beef short rib sliders simmered in fresh tomato sauce, topped with Cotija cheese and served on a potato bun. Pan-seared jumbo shrimp are simmered in chipotle garlic cream sauce and served over a crispy fried grit cake with sweet teardrop tomatoes. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner daily, brunch Sun. Credit cards. $$

IRIS 321 N. Peters St., 299-3944; www.irisneworleans.comIris offers chef Ian Schnoebelen's creative cooking. Pork cheeks come with raw vegetable salad, Italian herbs and fried spring onions. The lamb loin and braised shoulder duo is served with fried merguez ravioli, ratatouille and kalamata olive puree. Reservations recommended. Lunch Thu.-Fri., dinner Mon. and Wed.-Sat. Credit cards. $$$

IRISH HOUSE 1432 St. Charles Ave., 595-6755; www.irishhouse-neworleans.comChef Matt Murphy's upscale Irish pub offers everything from Irish breakfasts to fish and chips to braised lamb shanks with apple brandy broth, stone-ground grits and roasted root vegetables. Muscovy duck breast is stuffed with Brie and figs and served with celeriac puree, caramelized zucchini relish and sour cherry brandy relish. Reservations accepted. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

JACMEL INN 903 E. Morris St., Hammond, (985) 542-0043; www.jacmelinn.com The baked oyster appetizer features oysters covered in Havarti cheese, andouille and bechemel. Louisiana shrimp and grits includes smoked Gouda cheese grits and barbecue sauce. Reservations recommended. Lunch Wed.-Fri., dinner Tue.-Sun., brunch Sun. Credit cards and checks. $$$

LE MERITAGE Maison Dupuy Hotel, 1001 Toulouse St., 522-8800; www.lemeritagerestaurant.com Le Meritage organizes its menu around wine and food pairings, and dishes are available in both small and large portions. Mushroom truffle risotto comes with truffle foam and slices of white truffles. Lobster ravioli is served with asparagus, peas, tomato and corn. Reservations recommended. Brunch Fri., dinner Tue.-Sat. Credit cards.  $$$

MAT & NADDIE'S 937 Leonidas St., 861-9600; www.matandnaddiesThis quaint and colorful converted cottage is home to an eclectic menu. Grilled New Zealand rack of lamb alla cacciatora is served with polenta fritta and braised rapini. Cacciucco is a Tuscan-style seafood stew made with Tuscan fish broth, mussels, drum and shrimp, served with fried calamari and watercress. Reservations accepted. Lunch Mon.-Fri., dinner Mon.-Sat. Credit cards. $$$

MEAUXBAR BISTRO 942 N. Rampart St., 569-9979; www.meauxbar.comOn the edge of the French Quarter, Meauxbar serves continental cuisine with creative touches. Herbed rabbit terrine is served with pistachios, cornichons and mostarda. Sauteed frog legs Provencal is served with saffron-fennel dikon slaw. Reservations recommended. Dinner Tue.-Sat. Credit cards. $$$

MIKE'S ON THE AVENUE 628 St. Charles Ave., 523-7600; www.mikesontheavenue.comCrab, crawfish and sea scallops are rolled into crepes and topped with creamy Creole sauce with sausage and Asiago cheese. Passion fruit-glazed pork chops are sprinkled with black-and-white sesame seeds and served with balsamic caramelized sweet potato, green beans and flash-fried spinach. Reservations accepted. Lunch Mon.-Fri., dinner Mon.-Sat. Credit cards. $$$

MONDO 900 Harrison Ave., 224-2633; www.mondoneworleans.com Chef Susan Spicer draws dishes from around the globe at her Lakeview restaurant. Thai-style shrimp and pork meatballs are served on lemongrass skewers. For lunch, try broiled fish tacos with cilantro-lime crema, avocado and jicama-apple slaw. Reservations accepted for large parties. Lunch Mon.-Fri., dinner Mon.-Sat., brunch Sun. Credit cards. $$

NOLA RESTAURANT 534 St. Louis St., 522-6652; www.emerils.comChef Emeril Lagasse's French Quarter restaurant combines rustic accents and refined touches. Maine lobster meat and celery root top a roasted beet salad with arugula, spiced walnuts and green onion-buttermilk dressing. The hickory-smoked duck is coated with whiskey-caramel glaze and served with buttermilk cornbread pudding, haricots vert and fire-roasted corn salad, natural jus and candied pecans. Reservations recommended. Lunch Thu.-Sun., dinner daily. Credit cards. $$$

NUVOLARI'S 246 Girod St., Mandeville, (985) 626-5619; www.nuvolaris.com Order seared scallops, Gulf shrimp or jumbo lump crabmeat over pasta with either marinara or sherry cream sauce. The pesto-crusted salmon is served with smoked tomato risotto, char-grilled asparagus and lemon beurre blanc. All entrees come with soup or salad. Reservations recommended. Dinner daily. Credit cards and checks. $$$

O'BRIEN'S GRILLE 2020 Belle Chasse Hwy., Gretna, 391-7229; www.obriensgrille.comGrilled scallops are served with grilled corn maque choux and Creole beurre blanc. Fried redfish is stuffed with mushrooms and crawfish and served with stewed okra and Creole hollandaise. Reservations recommended. Lunch Mon.-Fri., dinner Mon.-Sat. Credit cards. $$$

ONE RESTAURANT & LOUNGE 8132 Hampson St., 301-9061; www.one-sl.com Braised country ribs come with collard greens with a potato and white truffle croquette. Char-grilled oysters are topped with Roquefort cheese and red wine vinaigrette. Reservations accepted. Lunch Tue.-Fri., dinner Mon.-Sat. Credit cards. $$

RALPH'S ON THE PARK 900 City Park Ave., 488-1000; www.ralphsonthepark.comRalph's boasts expansive views of City Park's live oaks and an ever-changing menu of innovative cooking. Lamb spareribs are slow-cooked and served with Worcestershire and citrus glaze. Traditional barbecue shrimp gets a modern kick with a broth made of NOLA Blonde beer, and comes with assorted wild mushrooms over a brown butter baguette. Reservations recommended. Lunch Tue.-Fri., dinner daily, brunch Sun. Credit cards. $$$

ROOT 200 Julia St., 252-9480; www.rootnola.comThe inventive menu at Root includes chorizo-dusted, cohiba-smoked scallops served on a bed of caramelized cauliflower and fennel choucroute. The menage a foie appetizer rounds up a lollipop of foie gras mousse coated in watermelon Pop Rocks, a foie gras panna cotta with peanut butter gelee and grape jelly on black brioche and smoked torchon of foie gras rolled in pastrami spices and served over Algiers honeycomb and fennel choucroute. Reservations accepted. Lunch and dinner Mon.-Sat., late-night Thu.-Sat. Credit cards. $$$

RUE 127 127 N. Carrollton Ave., 483-1571; www.rue127.comFor an appetizer, try cauliflower and Parmesan risotto with crispy florets, capers and extra-virgin olive oil. The char-grilled double-cut pork chop is served with roasted pepper jus, Jack Daniel's and roasted corn coush-coush and crispy shallots. Reservations recommended. Lunch Tue.-Fri., dinner Tue.-Sat. Credit cards.  $$$

STANLEY 547 St. Ann St., 587-0093; www.stanleyrestaurant.comChef Scott Boswell adds gourmet twists to classic diner fare. The Breaux Bridge Benedict features two toasted French bread rounds topped with boudin from Breaux Bridge, cheese, poached eggs and hollandaise. A trio of sliders includes chicken club, oyster po-boy and barbecue beef po-boy versions. No reservations. Brunch, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$

STELLA! 1032 Chartres St., 587-0091; www.restaurantstella.com Chef Scott Boswell combines exotic ingredients and a refined touch at this elegant restaurant. The duck five-ways includes Szechuan seared duck breast, a lacquered leg and thigh, duck miso broth, and foie gras wontons with cassis reduction. Pan-seared scallops and shrimp are served with truffled andouille and caviar butter. Reservations recommended. Dinner daily. Credit cards. $$$

SYLVAIN 625 Chartres St., 265-8123; www.sylvainnola.comThis gastro pub serves dishes like seared sea scallops with faro, roasted grapes, shaved almonds and sherry. The pan-fried pork shoulder features Coosa Valley grits, braised greens and mustard jus. Reservations recommended. Lunch Fri.-Sat., dinner daily, brunch Sun. Credit cards. $$

TAMARIND BY DOMINIQUE Hotel Modern, 936 St. Charles Ave., 962-0909; www.thehotelmodern.comChef Dominque Macquet's restaurant melds French and Vietnamese flavors. Grilled Morgan Ranch Wagyu beef coulette is served with Asian ratatouille, root vegetables, bok choy gratin and red wine jus. Fire-roasted Louisiana shrimp come with kaffir-lime beurre blanc over jasmine rice with crispy mirliton-squash relish. Reservations recommended. Dinner Mon.-Sat. Credit cards.  $$$

VINE AND DINE 141 Delaronde St., 361-1402; www.vine-dine.comFoccacia is served with toppings ranging from seared steak and portobello mushrooms to basil pesto and mozzarella. Barbecue pork is slow-cooked and served with chipotle corn bread and green beans amandine. No reservations. Dinner Mon.-Sat. Credit cards. $$

WOLFE'S IN THE WAREHOUSE Marriott New Orleans, 859 Convention Center Blvd., 613-2844; www.wolfes-inthewarehouse.comThe barbecue shrimp comes in a sauce of white wine, Worcestershire, shallots and cream and is served with rosemary French bread. The grilled rib-eye is served with mushroom garlic demi-glace and accompanied by braised Southern greens and roasted fingerling potatoes. Reservations recommended. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Credit cards. $$$

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