Around the new year, there’s always a lot of listicles floating about, a glut of My Year in Review or Best Eats of 2021. Brett Andersen’s annual list of Most Awesome Places Where I Stuffed My Face in New Orleans-type articles always come to mind. Are these fun? Do y’all read them? I always got the feeling they were like clip shows on TV where producers can rehash old footage to create a “new” episode.
In the spirit of looking ahead, I thought it would be fun to post a blog about my dining future. Can you picture it? I’m sitting in front of a crystal plate, heavily made-up with blue eyeshadow and thick, black eyeliner, my hair wound in a begemmed scarf as I gaze into the candlelit dinnerware. Where do I see me eating in 2022?
Though several spots on my list are of the not-yet-open variety, most of them are restaurants I just haven’t gotten to. It’s insane because I dine out regularly, I have to! But even after a decade of gut-busting adventures, I still haven’t been able to get around to everything that’s out there. There’s two main reasons for this. Most glaringly, I do not possess the finances. My food forays are paid almost entirely by me (though I am considering a Patreon account). Secondly, it’s a brave, hungry soul who could say they’ve eaten at every restaurant in the Greater New Orleans Area. I don’t think I could accomplish it even if money was no object, though I would love to try!
- Le Chat Noir – 715 St. Charles Ave. **
What seems like so very long ago, I attended a live episode of Jeff Crouere’s Politics with a Punch at Le Chat Noir. Like One Eyed Jacks (recently closed but reopening under new management) and Le Petit Theatre, Le Chat Noir was a super cool, cabaret theater in the city. Only a few doors down from Herbsaint, the theater was converted in Marcello’s Wine Bar & Restaurant in 2013, but closed after the recent shutdowns and relocated to the Northshore. Just recently, I’m talking three weeks ago, Le Chat Noir came to life once again, but this time the black cat is a Bearcat.
James Reuter, the founder of the incredibly stellar Bearcat restaurants, has launched what will hopefully be another winner with Lake Charles-born chef Seth Temple at the helm. Though veggie-focused, farm-to-table dishes like roasted carrots with ricotta and Hakurei turnips with candied Meyerquats have me rubbing my hands together with glee, I am equally excited about the Crabfat Agnolotti and Seth’s Secret Pudding with Fernet caramel and fresh-baked madeleine.
- N7 – 1117 Montegut St. **
When N7 had it’s obscure non-opening opening almost six years ago, the mysterious way it went about it struck me as pretentious. I’ve avoided it like . . . well . . . Covid (ha! too soon?). Sure, I read and heard local food-folk raving about it, but I got the feeling (from I know not where) they didn’t want people like me eating there. Was it a flash-back from a high school bully flicking lit cigarettes at my head? Quite possibly.
Recently, I have pulled my head out of my ass and started paying attention to their Instagram feed. Citrus-cured red snapper sashimi? Octopus salad with chick peas and roasted peppers? I’ve always wanted to try squab! Other than the food, they get a bonus in my book for not allowing anyone in under the age of 18 . . . and they have lasted this long. I think I’m ready to see what the fuss is all about.
- Trenasse – 444 St. Charles Ave.
While judging for the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience, I have, on several occasions, been fortunate enough to taste dishes from Trenasse and I always vow to go and enjoy a full meal, but I have yet to fulfill this promise. Located inside the InterContinental Hotel in the CBD, Trenasse offers incredible, mouth-watering gumbo, a burger topped with a deep-fried wedge of brie, grillades and grits (you’d be surprised how difficult this is to find these days), and French Market beignets and coffee for dessert.
- Tava Indian Street Food – 611 O’Keefe Ave.
A few years back, I had a quick lunch at Tava, an Indian street food vendor inside Auction House Market (one of three food halls in the GNO), and ever since I’ve been aching to go back. Lo and behold, owner and chef Manish Patel has now left the market and is opening up his own digs in the Warehouse District . . . I mean . . . South Market District. All joking aside, I couldn’t be happier. This Friday, January 7th, Tava will be opening up inside what was formerly the Italian deli Aglio. I’m sure his popular dosa and crispy chick pea salad will make a comeback, but it will likely only get better from there.
- Wishing Town Bakery – 802 1/2 Nashville Ave.
So, they’re not open on Nashville quite yet and I am not positive when they will be open there, but I am looking forward to seeing what they do with the super-cool space that used to be Cafe Luna. I know, I know . . . Wishing Town has been open since 2019 and I still haven’t gotten around to eating there yet? Even after they moved from David Drive in Kenner to Severn Avenue in Metairie, which was right around the corner from John’s former office, I have yet to try it. I could just go to Metry and get a bunch of their dim sum, spicy seafood soup, sweet Chinese egg tarts or crepe cake, but I really want to wait till they open up on Nashville. As much as I want dim sum, it will be a much larger space (the former Morning Call Cafe was tiny!), and the parking lot on Severn just sucks.
- Anna’s – 2601 Royal St. **
Smith + LeBlanc, one of my favorite local hospitality groups, opened Anna’s just this past June in the old and much-beloved space formerly housed by Mimi’s in the Marigny. There’s just no denying the fabulousness of the restaurants this group puts out, I have loved every single one of them. I can’t see Anna’s not living up to their reputation, especially with skilled, Seattle-born chef Chris Hamm in the kitchen. I am constantly checking and re-checking the menu and their Instagram account touting dishes like white anchovy and olive salad toast, crispy octopus with black rice and chilis, and churros with caramel for dessert.
- Chemin à la Mer – 2 Canal St.
Chef Donald Link, co-founder and president of Link Restaurant Group (another favorite) recently opened the super-posh Chemin à la Mer inside the brand new Four Seasons Hotel. Lacking pricing, the menu scares me something awful, but it also forces me to dab the corner of my mouth with a napkin, preventing the drool that would otherwise escape from staining my top. I can barely make it past the appetizers! The homey, pork-laden pâté grand-mère served with cornichons and fresh sourdough, pan-roasted foie gras with grapes and verjus (yes, I had to look it up), and a West Indies crab salad with sauce chien (No dogs were harmed in the making of this sauce). While I may never be able to enjoy a dinner in such a swanky establishment, maybe being food media will get me an in. #crossingmyfingers #stillhavetobuyadress
- La Boca Steakhouse – 870 Tchoupitoulas St. **
It’s ridiculous. Adolfo Garcia’s steakhouse La Boca has been open for over a decade and my ass still hasn’t warmed their chairs. I’ve received recommendations for this place out the wazoo, ever since it debuted on Fulton in 2006! It’s not that I don’t love steak, meat is totally my bag, baby. Maybe this will finally be the year. I’ve been ready to order — Argentinian empanada, a boneless ribeye and fries ala La Boca.
- Lengua Madre – 1245 Constance St.
Former Lower Garden District restaurant Thalia got a makeover over the summer, transforming into a high end Mexican restaurant with a seasonal, prix fixe menu. Chef Ana Castro is in the kitchen whipping up a five-course feast and I have absolutely no idea what that entails. I do know it’s elevated family food prepared by a chef whose cooking I have previously and most thoroughly enjoyed, so what’s the worry? Well, aside from the price tag. $70 per person was the last I heard. Can you say steep? An old, sweet friend (with considerably more wherewithal) has offered to treat me on his next visit in to town. How could I possibly refuse?
- Galatoire’s – 209 Bourbon St. **
Don’t even start! I don’t want to hear it! Don’t you think I know? I know!
- **Bonus Entry** Pho Tau Bay – 1656 Tulane Ave.
If I don’t get won ton soup from Pho Tau Bay at least once a year, I get unbearably bitchy.