After months of renovations, the Pontchartrain Hotel (2013 St. Charles Ave., 800-708-6652; www.thepontchartrain.com) reopened June 17.
Chicago-based real estate company AJ Capital Partners (www.ajcpt.com) and John Besh's Our House Hospitality — the Besh Group food and beverage management team — are behind the project. The Besh Group is running all food and beverage amenities at the hotel, including the Caribbean Room, the Bayou Bar, the Silver Whistle Cafe and the rooftop lounge Hot Tin, which features panoramic views of downtown New Orleans and the Mississippi River.
"As a steward of New Orleans, I felt called upon to be a part of the resurrection of The Pontchartrain," Besh said in a prepared statement. "I want to honor these traditions of the past that gave us so much and that are worth preserving for the next generation."
Established in 1927, the hotel attracted icons including Rita Hayworth, Frank Sinatra, Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams, and Presidents Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan. Following Hurricane Katrina, the property became a luxury apartment building with extended-stay rooms, but it shifted back to a hotel in 2013.
Chef Chris Lusk, formerly of Restaurant R'evolution, is overseeing the menus throughout the property, including room service. For the historic Caribbean Room, he says he plans on evoking nostalgia. Guests can expect revamped versions of signature dishes including shrimp Saki, filet de boeuf and Mile High pie (pictured, p.32), as well as new items such as pepper-roasted rack of lamb served with fava beans and curried carrots.
At the more casual Bayou Bar, there's an extensive whiskey and beer list and a streamlined bar menu of snacks and small plates. The breakfast and lunch menu at The Silver Whistle Cafe, is overseen by Willa Jean chefs Kelly Fields and Lisa White. It features the hotel's iconic blueberry muffins and breakfast dishes including a breakfast po-boy filled with scrambled eggs, andouille sausage, white cheddar and Sriracha hollandaise.
At the rooftop bar Hot Tin, a menu of light snacks and shared plates include chips and burrata with black truffle and shrimp banh mi sliders with pickled peppers and Sriracha aioli. But the real draw is the 270-degree view of the Mississippi River and downtown New Orleans.