Ursa Major (611 O'Keefe Ave., 504-309-8765; www.ursamajortickets.com), a new restaurant where the zodiac and all things celestial reign supreme, was scheduled to open for dinner May 30 (after Gambit went to press).
The restaurant is located inside The Paramount, part of the South Market District (www.southmarketdistrict.com) development, and is named for the "big bear" constellation. It is the second venture for Kevin Farrell and Nick Vivion, who run the street food-themed eatery Booty's Street Food (800 Louisa St., 504-266-2887; www.bootysnola.com) in Bywater.
Ursa Major's celestial theme expands beyond artwork and decor, influencing everything from the dinner menu to a cocktail list inspired by the zodiac.
Chef Daniel Volponi says his eclectic global menu takes cues from cultures with strong ties to star gazing. The cuisines of Peru, Greece, Korea, Egypt, Japan and China are all featured prominently.
Volponi worked at the now-closed RioMar and recently traveled to Bolivia, where he spent time cooking at Gustu, the acclaimed restaurant from Claus Meyer, a veteran of Copenhagen's renonwned Noma.
"To see the rest of the world and then to cook the rest of the world's food has been my passion in recent years," Volponi says. "I think this town is very much ready for those foods that are underrepresented."
Moroccan fish comes with shredded carrot salad and harrissa, a Tunisian spice paste. Eggplant pakoras are served with spicy, sweet-and-sour mango relish. Shrimp dan dan noodles are served with XO sauce, Sichuan peppercorns and chili oil.
For a larger plate, Bedouin-style Two Run Farms leg of lamb comes with cinnamon-cardamom rice, preserved citrus, kasundi — a type of Indian relish — green beans in fermented mustard and viili yogurt. Bone-in duck is served with chili-garlic broth, simmered greens, fresh cow's cheese, blanched almonds, olives and raisins.
Booty alum Wyatt Lowery takes inspiration from astrology for the bar program. A drink menu inspired by Gemini will be offered until June 21. It includes The Twins: Luke and Leia, which actually consists of two gin cocktails made separately — both featuring orange and juniper, ingredients said to benefit those born under the sign of Gemini. The cocktail menu will change monthly with zodiac signs, Lowrey says, and several drinks will be available on tap.
Dinner is served daily and brunch and lunch are imminent. Reservations can be made through an online ticketing system; patrons purchase $20 "tickets" instead of reservations, and that sum will be applied to the price of the meal.