At Uptown restaurant Gott Gourmet (3100 Magazine St., 373-6579; www.gottgourmetcafe.com), steam floats from the open kitchen, a jumble of cafe-style metal tables is scattered across the dining floor, and light from windows facing Magazine Street reflects off warm, melon-colored walls. For owner Christy Parker and her husband, chef David Gotter, location was everything.
"We always wanted this spot," Parker says. "We lived in the neighborhood (and) always thought it was the cutest little spot. We stared at it for years and got the opportunity to take it in October ."
Opening the restaurant in the initial stages of the recession, their timing couldn't have been worse. But after three "very scary" months, the couple successfully transformed their former catering business into Gott Gourmet. The restaurant has blossomed into a casual spot where unique, made-from-scratch cuisine is served in a relaxed neighborhood atmosphere.
Thanks to Gotter's background in fine dining, the menu features flourishes like prosciutto, fried Brie and organic microgreens. Even a simple shrimp po-boy comes adorned with arugula and house-made dill remoulade. Parker describes the outcome as more than just a lunch.
"Everything is fresh and homemade ... Even if [our customers] eat a Reuben, it's going to be the best Reuben they ever had in their life. The locals ... depend on us for something good."
As residents of the surrounding neighborhood, the couple takes their commitment to the community seriously. Parker prides herself on the restaurant's extensive green initiatives: takeaway containers and cups are made from biodegradable sugar cane and corn, and the restaurant recently switched from glass beer bottles to more eco-friendly cans.
"I thought if we were going to start, we'd start right ... [putting our] best foot forward," Parker says.
It may be the socially conscious practices, the pair's combined restaurant experience (both managed several restaurants over the past 20 years), or simply the fresh, expertly prepared food that has led to Gott Gourmet's many accolades. Gambit readers have named the restaurant as one of the city's best in several annual Best of New Orleans polls. There's a notable list of specialty cocktails, including blueberry mimosas and a rum punch. Former Chicagoans often order the restaurant's Chicago-style hot dog, saying it reminds them of home.
Gotter and Parker continue to perfect their project and hope to expand their evening offerings to include more small plates and happy hour specials.
"I used to say I wanted four [restaurants]; now I think I've lost my mind. One is plenty," Parker says. "It fulfills both of our interests, both of our needs, for what we want."
That sense of contentment and pride means Gott Gourmet should continue pleasing Magazine Street shoppers and local devotees for years to come.
"As the owner, not as the chick cooking all the food, my feeling is that I just want everybody to be happy," Parker says. "We love to make everybody happy."