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Scoring a Bingo 

"Bingo" is a term people often use to denote getting it right or hitting a winning combination, and no place is the word more poignant than at Marigny Brasserie (640 Frenchmen St., 945-2716; www.marignybrasserie.com). The restaurant started the new year by bringing on board Executive Chef Richard "Bingo" Starr, who gained a respectable reputation during his stints in the kitchens at the Windsor Court Hotel, Emeril's and, most recently, Cuvee. In just two months he has totally redesigned the menu and infused the cuisine with a fresh style that's full of surprises.

"We changed everything," Starr says, with the exception of retaining the ever-popular strawberry-walnut salad demanded by Marigny Brasserie regulars. "I'm trying to stay in the style of the brasserie, or bistro, but I use a lot of different cooking styles and methods." He refers to his cuisine as contemporary Louisiana but admits he melds a lot of cultural styles. "I like curry, so I do some Indian dishes; I'm from Louisiana so that plays in and French is always around. Seafood is definitely a passion."

What ends up on customers' plates "depends on what's in season, what's fresh and what excites me at the time," Starr says. "I just try to keep it interesting for my customers and my cooks."

The restaurant, which has several French doors that open onto Frenchmen Street catty-corner from Washington Square Park, offers fine dining in a fun and casual atmosphere. There's a well-stocked bar and a wine list that's developed to compliment the dishes served at the restaurant as well as to provide diners with affordable, quality vintages. There's also a seating area with comfortable chairs and couches for those who like to relax before or after their meal. To keep things lively, the restaurant has a happy hour from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 4 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday, during which customers get two-for-one specials on all drinks except wine.

"You never know who'll walk in," Starr says. "We get a very diverse crowd of interesting people."

The menu changes often here, depending on what piques Starr's interest, but a few items are destined to remain standards because of their popularity, including the chef's daily fish selection on herbed capellini with shiitake vegetable slaw and lemon caper beurre blanc, and the crispy oyster salad with shredded Romaine lettuce, spicy deviled eggs and remoulade dressing. Other keepers on the current menu include appetizers of poached jumbo shrimp served with a pickled mirliton salad, and spring rolls made with duck confit and wild mushrooms served with mixed baby greens and a truffle lemon emulsion. Starr says he plans to introduce the new spring menu in the next couple of weeks.

The French Connection

As part of the worldwide La Semaine Internationale de la Francophonie celebration of Francophone culture, the Francophilia Foundation is sponsoring French-a-porter, a fashion show of couture from local designers and boutiques.

The show, scheduled from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. March 19 at Twi-Ro-Pa (1544 Tchoupitoulas St.) will feature clothes and accessories with a French touch as well as a buffet of French food and wine, a cash bar and a silent auction of beauty products and services, clothes and other fashion-related items.

Tickets are $20 for students, standing viewing only; $30 for standing viewing; $40 for second-row seats; or $50 for front-row seats. The ticket price includes one drink at the cash bar and admission to Factory 1544, a party at Twi-Ro-Pa following the fashion show. Part of the proceeds will be used to fund a scholarship for a local fashion student or designer to attend design school in Paris. For tickets or information about applying for the scholarship, call 899-5259 or email francophiliafoundation@hotmail.com.

Spring Cleansing

Belladonna Day Spa (2900 Magazine St., 891-4393; www.belladonnadayspa.com) is welcoming spring with four days of demonstrations and workshops that focus on refreshing and renewing winter-weary minds and bodies.

The spa will hold an open house and daily cellulite treatment demonstrations from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, March 11, through Sunday, March 14. To introduce new makeup lines from Darphin, makeup artist Hector will detail the latest trends and give tips for spring makeup applications by appointment Thursday through Saturday.

A Detox Workshop for Body, Mind and Spirit from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 14, features ballerina and yoga, body centering and meditation specialist Nina Be; Lawrence Duncan, who uses music as an instrument of healing; and Dr. Maurice Werness, who practices naturopathic medicine and heads the Natural Medicine and Weight Management Department at Eastern Carolina Medical Center. Werness also is co-author of four books about natural healing and was host of the television series Natural Healing and co-host of the radio program, A Natural Approach.

Cost of the detox workshop is $40. Call 891-4393 for reservations.

click to enlarge Executive Chef Richard "Bingo" Starr has added taste and - flair to the frequently changing menu at Marigny - Brasserie.
  • Executive Chef Richard "Bingo" Starr has added taste and flair to the frequently changing menu at Marigny Brasserie.
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