There's nothing about Restaurant Rebirth that screams minimalism. At chef Ricky Cheramie's new restaurant, everything from the oversized dishes and bold flavors to the colorful, often animated dining room suggests extravagance.
Compared to some neighboring Warehouse District spaces, the restaurant can feel small, and on certain nights, cozy — but that doesn't mean a quiet dining experience. With its low-slung exposed wooden beams, petite dining room and cramped bar, the restaurant's tight quarters can render the space very loud, very fast.
Cheramie grew up in Lafourche Parish and worked at K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen, Commander's Palace and The Bombay Club. His menu is heavy on elevated Creole cuisine with a few Cajun twists. While the menu reads like any number of restaurants pushing elevated Southern fare with local flair, the dishes here are big and robust. Often they incorporate long lists of ingredients, and while that sometimes succeeds, in other instances it is over the top.
Meals begin with fat wedges of cornbread so pudding-like and sweet that butter is unnecessary. An appetizer of fried oysters and angel hair pasta is big enough to be an entree, featuring five to six enormous oysters over a generous nest of noodles tossed in creamy black pepper and Parmesan sauce. The medley is studded with thick pieces of tasso and a handful of mushrooms, rounding out a delicious, earthy dish.
Filet mignon is finely diced and shaved into thin slices in a tartare and carpaccio duo served with bone marrow-flavored crostini. Silky cubes of beef are topped with caramelized shallots, pickled mushrooms, parsley and fried capers — a salty, sweet combination that plays well with the richer elements. But the chef should stop there: tiny triangles of demi-glace gelee and a bunch of watercress tossed haphazardly on the plate are overkill.
An enormous double-cut Tomahawk pork chop arrives glazed in sweet and syrupy-thick sugar cane reduction, towering over a bed of bacon-braised haricots verts, buttery brabant potatoes and topped with crispy shallot rings. The size alone makes the dish a conversation piece, but the caramel-like flavor of the crust and juicy bits of pork make it a successful one as well. The haricots verts, however, lose their bite and bright color in the braising process and arrive lifeless and gray.
Giant rib-eye steaks are delivered blazing hot on sizzling platters. In fact, most plates seem to spend too much time under the broiler. This doesn't affect the quality of the dishes, but servers constantly warn guests about the heat.
While most dishes are served with an over-the-top list of ingredients, blackened redfish arrives with little more than a ramekin of melted butter and a lemon wedge and seems at odds with the rest of the menu. Though the fish was cooked well, the dish feels forced, as if Cheramie only put the local classic on the menu to appeal to conventioneers at nearby hotels.
Instead of saving room for dessert (the menu lists less than three items), diners could opt for crawfish maque choux. More akin to a rich pudding than the classic dish of corn and peppers, the creamy medley features plump crawfish tails and an almost sweet finish. Like just about everything else at Restaurant Rebirth, it feels decadent.