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Hot New Restaurants

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My husband and I will be in NOLA later this month for a conference.

While we have been coming to the city for over 20 years -- and have eaten at all the usually recommended places -- we haven't visited for about the last 5 years.

We'd like to know about the new and hot restaurants you would put on your "not-to-be-missed" list.

Need suggestions for a Th, Fri, and Sat night.

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  1. Iris. Worth the trip. And I haven't been yet, but i'm dying to go to cochon.

    1. Cochon is a great new place. More southern than just New Orleans style. You can do a search of this board and fine lots of posts over the past few months.

      4 Replies
      1. re: ddavis

        we had lunch at cochon last week. it was just ok but wasn't blown away at all.

        the grilled oysters were excellent. I had rib appetizer which was ok (watermelon rind relish was good) and some other appetizer which I don't remember what it was, so obviously wasn't memorable.
        my husband had mushroom soup which was only ok, and the smothered chicken, which at 16 dollars for lunch, could have included more chicken ( only a small part of the thigh and half a wing- the non meaty part- not even a full wing with the wing drumstick!). In terms of chicken meat, without exaggeration, it was maybe 4-5 small bites. Also, the sauce was more like soup, with some rice, albeit flavorful. If you are looking for real southern smothered chicken, this ain't it. Service was pleasant and helpful. Go to Deanie's for BBQ shrimp - you will have to work at it (bec served full shell with head) but it is absolutely wonderful.

        1. re: dec111

          Oh, I so loved the chicken dish. Yeah, it was on the smallish side, but oh so flavorful...reminded me a lot of my mom's smothered chicken (I'm from cajun country). It is not meant to be southern, but cajun. Sorry, you were unimpressed.

          1. re: malenky

            If you're going to Cochon for chicken, that might be the problem. If a restaurant's name means pig in French, that's what I would order. Although everything I had there that wasn't pork was still great!

        1. I've been told to try Dante's Kitchen and One.

          Any thoughts?

          4 Replies
          1. re: pace

            I really like One. It is also a great value. There fall menu is really good, lots of great hearty dishes.

            1. re: malenky

              Agree completely--One is terrific, and the prices are great. Everything is priced so that you can enjoy an appetizer and a drink along with your entree (if that sort of splurge is something you don't usually do). Great value, and a true gem.

            2. re: pace

              Dante's kitchen is one of my favorite spots - outdorr seating, good unpretentious food, reasonably priced lunches, and a great place for Sunday brunch.

              1. re: CynthiaNOLA

                Dante's is terrific, and a nice alternative when you can't get a reservation across the street, but it's hardly new.

            3. I've booked:

              Cochon for the first night
              Iris for the second

              For our third and last night, I'm debating between Dante's Kitchen and Rio Mar. The former sounds great, but they were slightly rude when I called to book, which made me wonder.

              5 Replies
              1. re: pace

                Dante's is ok, but I've never been that excited about their food. I think they're definitely a 2nd tier restaurant. Go with RioMar.

                Also, as the person who originally suggested Iris-- the food and people are wonderful, but don't expect a really haute atmosphere. It's very nice inside, but a little more DIY decorating than you'll find in the Quarter. :)

                1. re: pace

                  It's amazing how the "first impression" of a place can make, or break it, especially with regards to telephone reservations. More thought should go into that proceedure, at some restaurants.

                  When we were heading to NOLA, last July, I made reservations at Clancy's and the gentleman on the phone was excellent, especially as I was to have a wheelchair-bound guest in tow. When the trip was moved to August, I called to cancel and he seemed genuinely disappointed, but was very understanding. In August, we had fewer days/nights and Clancy's was removed from the list. However, because of the excellent telephone service I received, we WILL dine there next time. It was a great first impression. To restauranteurs out there: the front of the house can make you, or break you.


                  PS we've always had very good food at Dante's Kitchen, and several family members are good friends with much of the staff, so the service has always been top-notch.

                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                    I agree about Dante's - I find their food to be delicious, and they use a lot of local ingredients (they have a chalkboard behind the host desk with the list of all of them). I was there Saturday night - we had a large party and they were very accomodating.

                    1. re: cor

                      I too had always thought of Dante's as "second tier," having never been there, but my wife reported having a delicious meal there earlier this fall, and my curiosity is piqued. Just goes to show that there are a lot of places you mistakenly pass over, especially when you can't afford to fine-dine very often.

                      1. re: jamy

                        Don't get me wrong, I've had some very very good food there, but I've also had stuff that was just ok. It depends on what you order, and that's what puts it into the 2nd tier for me. It's been too long since I've been there for me to recommend something in particular off the menu, but I remember specifically being unimpressed with their signature falafel crusted fish. The starter spoonbread is great.

                2. Hottest/newest (so new that it hasn't had time to get hot yet) is Mila, located where Rene Bistro used to be (inside the Pere Marquette Renaissance hotel, corner of Common & Baronne Streets. It's the latest venture of Alison Vines Rushing & Slade Rushing, formerly of Artesia in Abita Springs.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: Hungry Celeste

                    I just read about this place. Have you tried it yet?? What is your take on it?

                    1. re: malenky

                      We leave for NOLA tomorrow. So, I'm very anxious to hear what any of you who have eaten there think about Mila!

                      1. re: pace

                        My girlfriend and I had dinner at MiLa last night, and I have to say that as high as our expectations were, they were absolutely and completely blown away. MiLa, after three nights open, is serving food on or above the level of any restaurant in New Orleans.

                        Our server was helpful but not overbearing, and the general manager, Jim, was informative and exceptionally welcoming. The service all night was friendly and spot-on.

                        But the food is what we were there for, and was more surprisingly delicious than anything I've had in a long time. The venison and duck liver pate, when combined with the cornichons, creole mustard, and okra was interestingly textured, and the acidity in the condiments phenomenally contrasted with the pecans and meatiness of the pate. My girlfriend started with the sweetbreads. The truffled grits were one of the most sublimely rich things I have ever experienced. If anyone has ever had the grits at Dante's Kitchen, imagine them plus truffles.

                        The entrees were, impossibly, a step up from the appetizers. I had pig cheeks and langoustines, and it arrived in a cast iron pot, in stew form. The pig cheeks literally fell apart at the touch of a fork, and the langoustines were like the sweetest fresh-caught crab in the world. Both were presented in a broth. I can't find an words for this beyond amazing. My girlfriend had the grouper, which I didn't try, but she thoroughly enjoyed.

                        Dessert was a cheese plate for me, with a blue, a sheep's milk, and a third I don't remember. These were served with chestnut bread and an eggplant jam, which was one of the most delicious things I've ever eaten. My girlfriend had the sublime muscadine jello. You wouldn't believe how good jello can be. It was shocking.

                        I'm exhausted from thinking about the meal again, so I think I'll skip any conclusion. Just go. You won't regret it.

                        1. re: mikemill

                          Oooh, thanks mikemill! I just booked Mila for Fri night!

                          So, we're going to Cochon tonight and Mila Fri night. And Thurs night we're booked at Iris.

                          Do you think going to Iris and Mila on back-to-back nights will be rich food overkill? If so, what would you recommend instead of Iris?

                          1. re: pace

                            You will be fine. They're both good restaurants, and besides, unless you're considering sitting at home with a cup of hot broth, where are you going to get a good meal that doesn't seem "rich" in comparison to standard fare?

                            MiLa is very good, although it's new. I think they are still training some of the wait staff, but the food I've had so far (been once for lunch, once for bar food) was really good. There's a dish on the dinner menu that I haven't had yet: Pork Cheeks and Langoustines, that I'm really looking forward to.

                            1. re: Robert Peyton

                              The Pig Cheeks and Langoustines is phenomenal. I can't really do better than saying that you'll be shocked at how rustically presented a dish can still taste better than most things you've ever eaten...

                            2. re: pace

                              Pace, please let us know how everything was. Thanks.

                      1. Reporting back from the food front . . .

                        We LOVED everything about Cochon! Located in a corner storefront in a funky part of the Warehouse District. Very dimly lighted. What they call "picnic tables" were actually very nice, chunky wooden pieces. The metal bar adds a somewhat industrial feel.

                        Our waiter, Suzy, was great; very passionate about the food, explained each dish in detail in answer to our questions, made perfect recommendations, and was funny to boot saying things like "Southern women are the most beautiful women. We have big butts, thick legs, and shining skin, because we eat pork fat!"

                        The food bowled us over. We started with pickled mirliton and beet salad with deviled eggs. Parsley and mint played up the flavors. Also had the wood fired oyster roast -- 5 oysters on the half shell that were put under the fire just long enough to get hot, but were still raw. Sprinkled with some chili flakes. These starters were served with wonderful yeast rolls.

                        For entrees, we had the specials recommended by Suzy. Bone-in pork chop with a little brown mushroom sauce, served with kale and mashed potatoes. Redfish fisherman's style, which was a whole fish served with tail and skin on one side, but boned, gilled and served plain. Some of the moistest, most succulent fish I've ever had. It did not come with any sides, so we ordered smothered greens (collards with bits of ham hock) and eggplant and shrimp dressing, both recommended by Suzy and both wonderful.

                        For dessert we shared a red velvet cake that had cream cheese icing and a lttle orange marmalade on the side.

                        We liked the atmosphere, too. Good energy level, fun music (Elvis singing "I'm Caught in a Trap" and Dolly Parton), and the noise level was not bad -- even though all tables were full, except for the 3 booths, and we had two parties of 10 right next to us. Oh, and we sat at the bar with some friends who were not joining us for dinner, and were ready for our table a half hour past our reservation time and they were perfectly unruffled by that.

                        Last night we went to Iris. Totally different from Cochon, but equally good. Cute little wooden cottage, two small rooms that seat about 40. Two waiters who worked all the tables in tandem and were very accommodating.

                        We started with sunchoke and cauliflower soup (ultimate comfort food) that included sunflower shoots, shaved truffles, and a parmesan crisp. And quail salad (quail pieces on a bed of geens with lardons, nuts, basil oil, and cheese, dressed with a vinaigrette. These were served with warm sour dough bread.

                        For entrees we had Argentine tile fish served with baby bok choy, julienned papaya, and gailan (a new vegetable for me, described by our waiter as brocolli rabe, but not as fibrous) in a lemon grass chicken broth. Our other entree was lane snapper with snap peas and kalamata tapenade.

                        For desser we shared a lemon tartlette, very light with a perfect crust, served with basil syrup and amazing candied lemon peel.

                        It was all perfect. (And Dolly Parton was playing here, too!)

                        Tonight we're off to Mila. Will let you know how it goes!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: pace

                          Good to hear that you enjoyed the meals. Interesting about the gailan. I've heard that the chefs often explores the giant Hong Kong Asian market on the West Bank for inspiration. Probably something he picked up there.

                          As far as the Dolly Parton thing, I have no idea.

                        2. Reporting on our dinner at MiLa.

                          OMG, is all I can say. We had great dinners on this visit to NOLA, at Cochon and Iris, but this was the very best. A sophisticated dining room in the Pere Marquette Renaissance Hotel -- where the restaurant does all the hotel's room service, too -- so tell your out of town friends to stay here, for the food, if for nothing else!

                          Our meal started with an amuse bouche of an eggplant wonton on lime mayonnaise. Incredibly good. Bread served was a sweet potato bread and chive cornbread accompanied by a tiny mini-skillet of butter and one of lima bean puree (that included lemon pepper, giving it a citrus hotness). We were told that the corn bread and lima bean puree were the chefs's take on hummus and pita bread.

                          We started with salads, which we always think of as not the most exciting starter to order (and not the thing chefs would want you to order), but we were in the mood for greens and knew they were organic here. When our salads arrived, we knew we were not missing out by not ordering other apps. The frisee salad was especially memorable. With bruleed and shaved butternut squash, goat cheese rolled in spiced pecans, and drizzled with vinaigrette. A little on the salty side, but so so good.

                          For entrees, we had roasted grouper, with creamed turnip greens, roasted cepes, and brown chicken jus. Again, OMG. Our other entree was grilled NY strip in a red wine sauce, with sweet potato and yukon gold potatoes with parmesan cheese in a bechamel sauce. Can you image how good that was??

                          We asked for a side of the black truffle grits, and then ended up asking for a second!

                          For dessert we shared the banana pudding, which was bruleed and covered with Chantilly cream and had three "cat tongue cookies" on top, standing on end.

                          Beth was the person who served us, and I'd highly recommend asking for her. She was highly knowledgable about the dishes, very genial, and enthusiastic.

                          As for the question of prices, the cold appetizers range from $8 to $15. The hot appetizers are $9 to $19 (lobster). Entrees are from $24 to $32 and wines are from $30 to $526 (Mouton-Rothchild) a bottle. So, you can choose dishes/wines that are moderately priced or you can choose to blow it out and splurge. Either way, this place is well worth whatever price level you choose.

                          MiLa has only been opened since Nov 5th and has not done any publicity yet. Despite its newness, the food, service, and room are already ready for prime time. So, get there before word gets out and reservations become difficult.

                          Thanks, Hungry Celeste and Mikemill! You made our food time in NOLA the best!!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: pace

                            Thanks for the followup report, glad everything went well for you!

                          2. I will echo many others here in their praise for Feelings Cafe, 2600 Chartres St in the Quarter. Simple, delicious local fare in a quiet atmosphere free from the sports insanity that infects most other places in the city. You dine in a rustic room with a dew other couples, as classic piano jazz music provide a romantic backdrop. Google Feelings Cafe and check out the menu online for yourself. We were there with former locals who had never been there before, and they loved it. Highly recommended.

                            1. We're back home now and, sadly, our NOLA visit is over. Thanks to you all for wonderful suggestions. You made our dinners great! Looking forward to visiting the Big Easy again soon -- and, of course, checking back with the chowhound NOLA message board before we do!