The popular brasserie Sainte Marie (930 Poydras St., 504-304-6988; www.saintemarienola.com) is closing, but its staff will reopen the recently shuttered Meauxbar in late May. Fans of Sainte Marie and those who haven't tried it yet have until Sunday, May 4 to eat there.
"We've dedicated ourselves to saying that Ste. Marie isn't closing, we're just transitioning to a different restaurant," chef Kristen Essig says. "Really, it's not just about the menu. The way we see the transition, we're so fortunate in that we're able to take our whole team over. We love this restaurant and we're so proud of what we're doing."
The decision was based partly on Sainte Marie's location.
"The corridor that we're on has taken on more of a commercial bent," Essig says, "and though we feel valued in the CBD, we want to appeal to a wider crowd and we want to appeal to a broader audience. We've taken such care in cultivating a relationship with our clientele, and so many of them are willing to take a nine-block walk or a short taxi ride to visit us when we open as Meauxbar."
Certain popular menu items will remain on Sainte Marie's menu until the crew moves to the new location, Essig says, including mussels, beef tartare and steak frites. There will be some seasonal menu changes: A dish of potato gnocchi, formerly served with a butternut and mascarpone puree, will be updated with fresh lima beans from Covey Rise Farms, house-made lardo, diced carrots, fresh tarragon, mint and parsley. It's garnished with milk-poached garlic chips. And the chicken dish, formerly inspired by Middle Eastern za'atar flavors, moves to a more Provencal preparation. The new chicken farci (stuffed chicken) will feature roasted eggplant, roast garlic puree, breadcrumbs, tarragon, thyme and butter. It will be accompanied by fingerling potatoes and an artichoke barigoule.
The new menu changes will take effect this week.
When asked if she is wistful about the last days of Sainte Marie, Essig says, "I don't think of it as the final weeks. I think of it as the end of a chapter. This is really just us going into the next saga. This is our part two."
Sainte Marie generally is closed on Sundays but will open on Sundays during the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (April 27 and May 4).