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Restaurant R'evolution Could be a Game Changer

N.O.Food Jun 5, 2012 08:32 PM

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. Bill Hunt Jun 5, 2012 08:53 PM

    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.

    Hunt

    1. h
      Hungry Celeste Jun 6, 2012 07:05 AM

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

      2 Replies
      1. re: Hungry Celeste
        N.O.Food Jun 6, 2012 10:36 AM

        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
          Bill Hunt Jun 6, 2012 07:31 PM

          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.

          Hunt

      2. k
        kibbles Jun 7, 2012 02:40 PM

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

        1. k
          kibbles Jun 7, 2012 02:46 PM

          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
            g
            Gizmo56 Jun 7, 2012 03:32 PM

            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
              Bill Hunt Jun 7, 2012 06:00 PM

              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.

              Hunt

              1. re: Bill Hunt
                n
                n.o.lover Jun 10, 2012 08:15 AM

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

                http://www.revolutionnola.com/index.html

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

                1. re: n.o.lover
                  s
                  sanglier Jun 10, 2012 11:21 AM

                  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
                    k
                    kibbles Jun 11, 2012 08:44 AM

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

                    1. re: kibbles
                      Bill Hunt Jun 13, 2012 08:12 PM

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

                      Hunt

                    2. re: n.o.lover
                      GroovinGourmet Jul 3, 2012 06:01 PM

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

                2. re: kibbles
                  Bill Hunt Jun 7, 2012 05:59 PM

                  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.

                  Thanks,

                  Hunt

                3. s
                  shanefink Jun 7, 2012 05:50 PM

                  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
                    k
                    kibbles Jun 8, 2012 09:52 AM

                    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
                      Bill Hunt Jun 8, 2012 08:01 PM

                      "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.

                      Hunt

                      1. re: Bill Hunt
                        s
                        sanglier Jun 8, 2012 09:29 PM

                        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
                          Bill Hunt Jun 13, 2012 08:15 PM

                          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.

                          Hunt

                  2. h
                    Hockey19 Jun 7, 2012 06:13 PM

                    Thanks for the review. We will be in NOLA for our 30th Anniversary in July and I was looking for a new special place. I think this will fit the bill. Will keep an eye out for further thoughts.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Hockey19
                      s
                      sanglier Jun 7, 2012 08:21 PM

                      I can't wait to see how RR is doing a year from now--whether it will be a place with a decent percentage of locals vs. a tourist-based spot. They are joining such a crowded field of fine-dining restaurants! I continue to be amazed at how many restaurants we have for a city our size.

                      1. re: sanglier
                        c
                        collardman Jun 8, 2012 06:34 AM

                        Good chefs provide good meals. really good chefs do that and still make a profit. Let's see what food costs and overhead does in the long run. And hope for the best.

                        1. re: collardman
                          h
                          Hockey19 Jun 9, 2012 06:14 AM

                          http://posting.bestofneworleans.com/i...

                          Found this menu on line

                    2. s
                      Seige Jun 11, 2012 03:19 PM

                      We were there Friday night (see my MSP 'hound report) and I agree - it was spectacular! It'd be hard not to go back there at least once on a return visit.

                      1. msruckus Jun 19, 2012 01:22 PM

                        I had one night in town and decided to try this restaurant because I am a big Tramanto fan. It blew my mind how wonderful it was. This will be a short review but I want to state that I loved the space, the design and the warmth of the staff so much but the food was spectacular. The wine list on the ipad was really fun and the sommelier who came from Charlie Trotter's in Chicago, was a delight and steered us to a sparkler from Greece that carried us through the meal. We had the Hog's Head Cheese with accoutrements and made little bites with different flavors. Some of these were amongst the best bites of my life. The bone marrow, my favorite thing in the world, was a big portion (yay) and paired w a tiny brunoised radish salad accented with mint. The death by gumbo was somehow light and dreamy with a grilled quail in the bowl that was cooked perfectly. We shared a scallop and foie gras entree atop puréed white beans with black truffles on top. Layered into one bite, it was unbeatable! Corn macque choux was drop the fork good and the greens were the best I've ever had. I finished with a cheese course from the trolley and was very happy while DH had the deconstructed banana cream pie that he adored. Then we were presented with a gift box filled with candies and confections and left oh so happy.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: msruckus
                          c
                          CharlieH Jun 21, 2012 09:44 AM

                          Going Friday. How formal was everyone dressed? Coat and tie?

                          1. re: CharlieH
                            N.O.Food Jun 21, 2012 05:17 PM

                            Nah. It's a hotel restaurant, so it's not super-formal, even though it probably should be. When I was there, there were some coats, but mostly polo's, button-downs, etc.

                            1. re: CharlieH
                              s
                              Seige Jun 22, 2012 03:07 PM

                              Open Table says jacket preferred, but we saw plenty of people with button downs (hubby included), polos, and even jeans. I probably wouldn't go in jeans, but khakis and a button down or polo would be fine.

                              1. re: Seige
                                Bill Hunt Jun 22, 2012 07:39 PM

                                That is good news. While NOLA is a "tourist city," it's nice to see that some sense of decorum is in place.

                                Hunt

                          2. j
                            JazzyB Jul 2, 2012 05:58 AM

                            Not so sure it's a game changer. While it is a lovely dining experience, it did not blow me away like Le Foret (when they initially opened with their certified master chef).

                            The amuse was a delicious cold celery soup. It should be on the menu.
                            "Death by Gumbo" (with the quail) was merely "ok" and left me wishing I had ordered my husbands's Crab Beignets. They were light and very flavorful. The "beignets" were balls of lump crab encrusted in a light, crisp, almost tempura like shell. Each of the four had a different dipping sauce. We asked to split the oyster salad. Other restaurants do this in the kitchen. Not so here. The salad was left with a.couple of salad plates for us to split. No big deal, but unexpected. The salad was what one would expect, fried oyster, blue cheese dressing (not enough),, bacon.. My huband enjoyed the flounder napoleon with crawfish, crawfish boulette and oyster/artichoke stew. It was perfectly cooked with a layer of crawfish mousse. The "stew" was the sauce surrounding the fish. We had a side of the corn macque choux pudding which he said was terrific with the "stew". On it's own, it was a bit too sweet. My entree was the scallops with foie gras, white bean puree with truffle, celery salad and bacon vinagrette. An excellent combination. The scallops were plump and tender. Unfortunately, the bean puree was a scant tablespoon beneath the foie. A few more spoonfuls would have been wonderful. This was topped with the celery "salad" which was actually a garnish of a few small celery tops. The bacon vinagrette was drizzled around the plate. There was a lone shaving of white truffle.. My dessert was white choc. bread pudding creme brulee with caramel and lemon scented apricots. Surprisingly not a sweet, gooey dessert. The "bread pudding" was a silce of stiffened pastry cream with a cookie/cakelike base. Spun sugar provied the "brulee". The tiny bits of apricot were a good foil with the drizzled caramel.

                            Revolution's service offers nice " touches": the huge bread tray....lavash, herb biscuits, mini Leidenheimer baguettes and sour dough rolls. The butter dish holds salted, unsalted butters as well as olive oil. There is a tableside cheese cart for after dinner selectiona as well as a jewel box presentation of minardes. Service was polished and our waiter was knowledgeable. Prices and food are comparable to August.
                            Overall dining experience, the edge goes to Revolution.

                            Oops, forgot, valet parking. Leave your car in front,, bring your keys to the receptionist.

                            1. Bill Hunt Jul 6, 2012 01:19 PM

                              I had forgotten about this upcoming event, but just got my reminder.

                              Blackberry Farm, Walland, TN, right at the Smoky Mountain National Park, is hosting a culinary event "R'evolution," with Chefs John Folse and Rick Tramonto, from Nov 04 - 07. The guest wine makers are Garen & Shari Staglin, or Staglin Family Vineyards.

                              We did the "Smoky Mountain Table," at Blackberry Farm, in 2010 and 2011. Garen & Shari were the guest wine makers at that event, in 2010. Shari produces some of the most exquisite Chardonnays in the US, and Garen, not to be outdone, brings a load of his 90+ - 100 pt. Cabernet Sauvignons, Bordeaux Blends. There is never a dearth of wines, when the Staglins are involved.

                              Unfortunately, we have a date conflict with this event, or it would be our 3rd trip to Blackberry Farm this year.

                              For more information: http://www.blackberryfarm.com/events-...

                              At least we will be dining at R'evolution in a few weeks!

                              Hunt

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Bill Hunt
                                h
                                hazelhurst Jul 6, 2012 01:48 PM

                                I, for one, am looking forward very much to your comments. My plan is to let a visit wait until the fall but I understand the constraints of Time and Availability.

                                1. re: hazelhurst
                                  Bill Hunt Jul 6, 2012 07:44 PM

                                  I will try to do justice to R'eveloution, and hope to talk to the chefs, regarding the Blackberry Farm event. That they are doing an event there, is a great sign, at least for me. Will be there at the end of July, and we will see.

                                  We're doing the Chef Alan Wong & Dr. Loosen event, in August, at Blackberry Farm.

                                  If I had an open schedule, and unlimited funds, I would do most of their culinary events, as all that we have attended, have been great. Just did Chef Michael Mina and Chef Jason Berthold, along with wine maker Dirk Nieerport, and it exceeded our expectations.

                                  I hate missing R'eveolution at Blackberry Farm, but hope to make up for that by dining there.

                                  Hunt

                              2. h
                                Hockey19 Jul 23, 2012 08:09 AM

                                Snapshot review. One of a kind dining experience on many levels. With different dining room "themes" people can get different atmosphere's from more casual to very formal. Food was really, really good. I liked the bread menu choice. The end of meal pastry box was a highlight. The menu is very large and very creative and It will be interesting to see if they can keep it up. Got a great walking tour of entire facility including kitchen after dinner. One item that I can't wrap my hands around is, can a restaurant have to much service. Everyone is always around, cleanig wiping, replacing, checking in. It was like everything, at times a bit overwhelming. Our server was good but was a bit aggressive about constantly trying to add more items to our order. Is this a game changer,? I would say it is certainly one of the the most innovative, creative high end restaurants in the country. A game changer would mean others would follow. I doubt it. There is to much going on at to high a level for more than one or two to even try.
                                PS. If you don't like eating with a whole pig dry curing in an open fridge next to you, avoid the back dining room.

                                1. r
                                  ruzil Jul 27, 2012 08:34 PM

                                  Dined here with my wife last friday july 20th. I was a little worried, at first, when they changed my reservation time on me. After a couple of phone calls they were able to rectify this issue.

                                  I really like the space and find it a beautiful restaurant. We were seated in the center more formal dining room, it did seem odd that this was the only room with table cloths.

                                  It was obvious that they spent a lot of time in training the wait staff. Service was perfect and left nothing to be desired. Our waiter, I forget his name, was from Iowa and studying agriculture at UNO. I found his choice of college for his major curious, but I digress.

                                  I thoroughly enjoyed my meal. The crispy sweetbreads were prepared with Herbsaint Meunière and Forest Mushrooms. Probably my favorite sweetbreads I have ever had. My entree was the Seared Sea Scallops and Foie Gras
                                  Truffle White Bean Purée, Celery Salad, Bacon Vinaigrette. The scallops were perfectly seared and I found the celery salad component took this dish to a whole new level. I really thought the Cohiba smoked scallops at Root was my favorite, but this preparation was better.

                                  My wife had the heirloom tomato salad with olive oil ice cream for her starter. This dish was good, albeit gimmicky, since each tomato slice was cut a different way, but the olive oil ice cream was incredible. I'll have to try make that at home soon. Her entree, was Red Snapper with pork bellies. She really wasn't impressed with this dish, but I think she didn't order well since she doesn't really care for pork bellies. I tasted the pork and found it very good.

                                  For dessert, we shared a trio of ice creams, red velvet creole cream cheese, crunchy peanut butter, and coconut greatfruit. The first two listed were out of this world, the last one, kind of meh.

                                  The wine list is contained on an ipad, and even though I own one, I found it cumbersome and would have preferred to have a more traditional list. I wound up spending a little more than I would have liked on wine because of the ipad.

                                  Overall, a really excellent dining experience, definitely not inexpensive ( I think it was $330 with tip) but similar to dining at Stella! or August. Will definitely be back.

                                  1. FoodChic Jul 28, 2012 04:08 PM

                                    I called two days ago to make reservations. The person I spoke with asked if we had any food allergies they should be aware of prior to dining. I was stunned. I don't think I've ever had a restaurant ask me that...ever.

                                    Cannot wait for this dining experience!

                                    1. g
                                      gobluefoodie Sep 27, 2013 01:03 PM

                                      I just booked the wine room for my birthday dinner party the end of October. I was excited before but now I'm really fired up. Can't wait to get my tastebuds and heart back to NOLA.

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