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Helix Restaurant and Wine Bar 

counterparts (progressive beats, brushed steel bar, ambient lighting), Helix Restaurant and Wine Bar (Hotel Le Cirque, 936 St. Charles, 962-0903; projects a vibe that is anything but exclusive.

  "[Helix] was built to be an upscale lounge with reasonable prices," general manager Jeff Bordelon says. "People can hang out, yet not feel intimidated by the upscale environment. You can get a glass of wine and something to eat for under $20."

  A diverse wine menu assures that both wine connoisseurs and neophytes will find a drink to suit their palates. "We have the basics, like good Chardonnay. But we also have some out-of-the-box stuff like Veraccia for people who want to get adventurous," Bordelon says. The signature mojito, made of Cruzan rum, fresh mint, fresh berries and cane syrup, is complimentary during Ladies Night on Thursdays between 5 p.m. and 11 p.m.

  Chef Jay Lefort, a Cut Off, La., native, brings a generous dash of Louisiana flavor to traditional tapas dishes. The bacon-wrapped shrimp served with Creole cheese grits is popular, as are eggplant beignets doused with Creole cream sauce. Other dishes include pizza Rustica and quesadillas. The venue's dining room and banquet room are available for private events.

  On Friday and Saturday nights, when DJs spin house music, Helix attracts a party-friendly crowd of locals, along with a smattering of tourists. In keeping with the unpretentious code, Bordelon says everyone is welcome. "Almost everyone; we don't allow the Saints' opposing teams to dine in Helix," he says, laughing.

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