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Jun 5, 2012 08:32 PM

Restaurant R'evolution Could be a Game Changer

The bar has been raised for New Orleans dining. I'll start by saying that I had probably the most memorable meal of my life at Tru in Chicago, so I was extremely excited when I first heard Rick Tramanto was teaming up with John Folse to start Restaurant Revolution. Three years in the making, it finally opened last night, and four of us went. It was the first night it's been open to the public. "Wow" is all I can say. There is no place like this in New Orleans. This is true high-end dining. Ingredients and culinary execution you typically see in big cities like Chicago, no surprise there, New York, etc.

On to the food. The menu is huge, and there's something for everyone. A full line of steaks, pasta, salads, soups, meat, fowl, fish, caviar, you name it. There wasn't a fixed tasting, and We couldn't make up our minds, so we told the staff to just feed us four or five courses, and the fun began. We started with four different amuse bouches. I assume all were great, as I only got to try mine, but no one complained about their respective amuse.

Next was a soup course. Gumbo, turtle soup, and two crab bisques came out. The gumbo was the best gumbo I've ever eaten, and I've made it a life mission to try as many gumbos as possible. Suffice it to say, I've tried a few. The stock was a lighter brown but very thick rich. It was obviously blended, as it was very smooth and creamy in consistency. In the middle of the stock sat a perfectly cooked quail stuffed with rice and house-made andouille. Once the quail was distributed in the stock, it was a thing of beauty. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. The other two soups were elegant and beautifully crafted, but man, that gumbo was incredible.

After that was a salad course, and we each were brought a different preparation. There were two different mixed greens salads, one beet salad, and a salad featuring fried oysters. All were very good.

Next was a venison carpaccio and crab beignets for the table to share. The venison was very light, with subtle flavors. The crab beignets were on the opposite end of the spectrum: dense and rich. All in all, an excellent third course.

Entrees were brought out shortly thereafter. I had a braised short rib accented with local citrus that was fork tender and excellent. The citrus really made the dish shine. My wife had a surf and turf featuring pork belly and red snapper. Another had a gnocchi dish with perfectly poached lobster. The fourth in our party had "bird in a cage" that was a heritage chicken quarter with mushrooms and I don't know what else. It was a delicious, umami heaven. All of the entrees were fantastic.

Even though we were stuffed, we agreed to get a few desserts, three to be exact. We ordered our three, and they brought out five: bread pudding creme broulee, chocolate cake, banana creme pie, creole cream cheese panna cotta, and strawberry roubharb angel food cake. My names for the dishes don't do their creativity and execution justice. Each one was a delicious work of art, but the bread pudding creme boulee was the table's favorite.

With our check came small, warm cookies and housemade chocolates, just in case we hadn't eaten quite enough.

In short, the execution of the food was incredible. Every dish had a story--that the wait staff will eventually be able to tell--and each was crafted and presented like a work of art. All in all, this was without a doubt the best meal I've eaten in New Orleans from an execution, attention to detail standard. I kind of hate to say it, but all others pale in comparison. This restaurant has raised the bar for New Orleans dining.

Despite the haute cuisine, it felt pretty casual and unpretentious, probably because of John Folse's tempering local's hand. And it's in a hotel, so there will be the inevitable folks in shorts and the like, but I felt perfectly fine in my work clothes: sports coat, slacks, and no tie. I'd recommend a jacket for men, but you probably wouldn't be out of place or uncomfortable in nice jeans and a button down shirt.

The service left a little to be desired, but that's to be expected on the first night. You could tell that not everyone knew where to be and when, but that will come. Also, there's so much going on on these plates that it will take some practice for the waitstaff to get their descriptions down. Despite these hiccups, the meal still flowed well, and we didn't want for anything. In a few weeks, assuming the cooking doesn't drop off for some reason, this place will be running like a well-oiled machine.

Wine selection is stunning as well, and the list is presented on an iPad. That makes sense because the sommelier said they have approximately 10,000 bottles in their cellar, ranging from the affordable to the obscene. We had two bottles with dinner and a pairing of two different wines at dessert. All were wonderful and excellently paired with the food.

After dinner, we took a tour of the restaurant. They have a private chef's table and a private room off the wine cellar that looked to seat about 14 or so. One of the sous chefs told us that the kitchen is incredible, with the highest end appliances available. He also said that the ingredients they're using are ridiculously fresh and high end. Ingredients for the most mundane menu items are flown in daily.

As you might expect, all this finery and attention to detail comes at a price, but it was definitely worth it. I can't wait to go back, and I only hope the food continues at last night's level and the staff rises to meet that level. With Tramanto and Folse at the helm, both of which were in attendance and came to speak to us, I have no reason to expect otherwise. Food just got a lot more interesting in New Orleans.

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  1. That is a great review!

    We have been reading the "press releases" for some time now, and have been looking forward to dining there. It will not be our July trip, as that has family events attached, but we hope to get there, very soon.

    Thank you for taking the time to post this.


    1. How were the prices? I keep hearing reports of sticker shock.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Hungry Celeste

        Oh it's not cheap, although I think you could get out of there for what you'd pay at, say, Stella or August. Our meal was expensive, but we blew it out with tons of food and 2+ bottles of wine. I think the usual three course meal with wine would be on par with other places in town. Now if you start adding crazy wine (they have $30,000.00 bottles) and caviar ($100.00+ per serving), you will rack up a large bill. But if you keep it in control, you can get out without mortgaging the house. The steaks are the most expensive I've seen in town, but according to the chef that took us around the restaurant, they're the best in town. I can neither confirm nor deny that statement, as none of us tried a steak.

        The menu is huge, so there's something for everyone, foodwise and pricewise. Many wines were reasonably priced, too. Specialty cocktails were about 12.00 on average, so that's not too out of line, either.

        1. re: N.O.Food

          Thank you for the observations.

          As for the wine list, I will be seeking that out.

          In New Orleans (and more so, in a few other cities), I am seeing too many wine lists, that have a gaping hole in the middle. They have "the usual suspects" at 500% markup, and then nothing, until one gets to a $5000 btl. of DRC Burg. One of our favorite French restaurants just changed their menu and their wine list. They dropped everything in the middle, and have, what I consider an unworkable wine list - "usual suspects" up to about US $ 60, and then they jump to US4 300 - 10,000 wines. There are a ton of really good wines, in the US $100 to $200 range, and nothing to choose from.

          I realize that it costs money to have a cellar and wine list, but at some point, I feel that restaurants need to bit-the-bullet, and put in wines in the mid-price point, that suit their kitchen's output. One local restaurant (Phoenix) has a rather short wine list, and offers none of those "usual suspects," but has well matched wines from US $40 to $250, with but a few "trophy wines," in the upper areas. While I have not tried any of those "trophy wines," everything else pairs wonderfully, and at many price-points.

          I do feel that it is incumbent on the patrons, to express their concern with the sommelier, or wine-steward, when they encounter a wine list, with a big hole in the middle. Many of us appreciate our wines, want to pair them with the food, but are not on some GSA junket, so cannot afford those "trophy wines," however much me might wish to. It is important, from my personal standpoint, for any restaurant, to provide a workable wine list, paired for that restaurant's fare. "Trophy wines," are OK to have on the list, but no owner/sommelier, should expect that patrons, who want good wines, will necessarily be able to spend several thousands of dollars on a bottle - the glory days of the DotCom boom are over. There are few, who fly their staff to The French Laundry, and order US $10,000 bottles of Screaming Eagle, for lunch, are over. Get over that!

          Will do my due diligence, regarding the wine list, and will comment. Unfortunately, our upcoming trip is full, but we will do an investigation.

          [Edit] Well, we just changed one night's plan, will give them a try, including the wine list.


      2. wow. i want your table for dining companions. holy smokes! nice work, soldier.

        1. also, you know whats funny? that ipad they serve their wine list on -- it wont serve their own website! adobe flash plugin required.

          im a tech guy, so it baffles me to see high-end restaurants spend a ton of dough and then not build the most informative, accessible website possible. especially in the new era of mobile computing (where flash plugins are on the outs due to power consumption). how many times have you been out & about looking for a good menu, but unable to view a restaurant's website? too many times for me.

          says "full website coming soon" so hopefully theyll fix it, use standard HTML...

          8 Replies
          1. re: kibbles

            I visited the site with a flash plug-in...they have not posted any menus yet, which I found very disappointing. The site is little more than a place marker right now.

            1. re: Gizmo56

              OK, that was what I was finding - "Coming Soon," "Watch This Space... "

              Thanks for the confirmation. Usually, I am great with my searches, but was striking out on this one.


              1. re: Bill Hunt

                The site is now up and running, including the wine list.


                Can't wait to visit in November, the menu looks fabulous.

                1. re: n.o.lover

                  Thanks for posting the wine list. At first blush, looks like I better drink my Burgundy at home, yikes! On the other hand, with so many offerings, there are plenty good ones to be had in the 40s and 50s. That's always appreciated. Though charging $18 a glass for 89 Michel Cornas, when it was available for $40 retail in New Orleans, seems a bit much...

                  1. re: n.o.lover

                    Hunt should be satisfied w/ the stemware -- even the water glasses are super thin & delicate.

                    1. re: kibbles

                      I will attempt to do a review.the restaurant, and the stemware.


                    2. re: n.o.lover

                      Wow... that is some major food porn! New #1 on the Must Try list

                2. re: kibbles

                  Going back some years, Aureole, Las Vegas, went with PDA's for the wine list. It was a kludgy affair, and the biggest "draw" was the "Wine Angels," who repelled from about 6 floors up, looking like a scene from James Bond, or Mission Impossible, to retrieve the patrons' wines. I dined there, shortly after their opening, and was less than impressed. Nearly every review that I read, featured the ladies in tights, doing an aerial ballet, with the wine bottles in tow, and not on the food, service, ambiance or even those PDA's, and how useless they turned out to be.

                  I will reserve my comments on the iPads, until I have used them.

                  I have been trying to find R'evolution's Wine List, with no luck. Do you have a URL? I have updated Flash modules, but cannot find the wine list, through the main Web site, Google, Bing, or others.



                3. Glad Tramonto was there. He was surprisingly absent from the pre-opening party. It was a cool event with lots of dignitaries like the mayor, Leah Chase, etc. They let everyone tour the kitchen and it is stunning. As for the prices, other than the steaks, I thought they were pretty much in line with other high-end restaurants around the city. I think you can get out of there for around $150/pp with wine.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: shanefink

                    we hit it last nite after work! talk about being impressionable, heh. sat at the bar -- we tried cocktails, bar bites, and a couple items off the main menu. wow. not sure how long the prices will last, but I actually felt it was under-valued. the meat-jar terrine things (pate, foie gras, etc) + huge boards of picked veggies, toast and sides were $4 each (we foolishly ordered two). an amazing crab & corn "cappuccino" bisque was $9. The burger (fried egg, etc) & fries was $12, and the vanilla butter poached lobster in ricotta gnocchi was $23 (tho i think menu said $29).

                    the menu is stacked -- I don't know how they can offer so many items and do it well....but I'll be back for the steaks -- prime, 28-day aged, 1200-degree broiler, and an incredible menu of toppings and sides, from lobster bordelaise to truffle butter, seared foie, etc. petite filet is $30, on up.

                    1. re: kibbles

                      "Foie gras?" You got my attention. As of about July 01, foie gras will pass from the US culinary lexicon, when CA bans foie gras, and kills the industry. I am now seeking out my foie gras "fixes," as I do not have a physical for about 3 mos.. Heck, I am even going to Paris in October, and plan on eating foie gras (goose, not duck) for most meals, other than breakfast.


                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                        Bill, we should still at least be able to get our duck version of foie gras torchon, seared fg, etc., in New Orleans, despite the foolishness in CA, no?

                        1. re: sanglier

                          I am not sure. Both CA and NY, have claimed to kill foie gras. In San Francisco, this week, several restaurants are doing "foie gras celebrations." Many feel that NY will also kill foie gras from Hudson Valley. We can only wait, and see. With many "foie gras festivals" in San Francisco, I think that many chefs are listening, but could be wrong.