Over the past month, a handful of up-and-coming new restaurants or bars have opened in or just outside of New Orleans’ French Quarter, a welcome culinary renaissance led by local names in a neighborhood generally described as appealing to to residents outside. Two other spots are joining the scene, reports NOLA.com: Bijou, an upscale bar and restaurant from a former Bayona chef that opens today, and MaMou, also run by alumni of top local restaurants, which is expected to open early next year.
The two restaurants are located one block from each other on North Rampart Street, the northernmost edge of the French Quarter: Bijou in a small apartment building at 1014 N. Rampart St., and MaMou at 942 N Rampart St., the old address. Home to the long-standing Meauxbar neighborhood bistro. This restaurant, which had been owned by local restaurant group LeBlanc and Smith for seven years, closed in October 2020.
New Orleans chef Tom Branighan, who has worked in many of the best local places over the years, but most recently at another (former) LeBlanc and Smith restaurant, Longway Tavern, and sommelier Molly Wismeier, who has worked as director of drinks for the restaurant worthy of the follies of the neighborhood. R’evolution, work together to open MaMou. The modern French bistro is expected in early 2022 (LeBlanc and Smith are not involved in the project).
The Bijou building has never been a restaurant before, but the historic sweet Creole cottage has been modernized with a modern-looking lounge, two bars, and a narrow dining area that spills out onto a back yard that also offers seating. It was developed by a small group of local investors and nightclub owners, including Jeff Bromberger, who owns the Maison and Dragon’s Den sites, according to NOLA.com. The kitchen is run by Eason Barksdale, who worked for Susan Spicer for 14 years, in Mondo and Bayona. It focuses on small plates for the concise menu; a number of cuisines are explored through dishes like chicken tom yum, squid ink spaghetti, and tuna tartare. Bijou is now open for dinner Wednesday through Saturday at 4 p.m., and for brunch (from 11 a.m.) and dinner on Sunday.
For those keeping track, below is an overview of the new restaurants and bars that will debut in or just outside the French Quarter in October 2021, listed by most recent opening date:
615 Toulouse Street
This new bar, concert hall and nightclub opens on Friday, October 29 in the former One Eyed Jacks, a long-standing club in the neighborhood closed during the pandemic. It is revived by Preservation Hall owner Ben Jaffe, his wife Jeannette and another local couple; the project is supported by “several anonymous music industry investors” who are rumored to include Dave Grohl.
The Will and the Way
719 Toulouse Street
LeBlanc and Smith’s latest addition, the Will and the Way replaced Longway Tavern in mid-October, focusing on wine and cocktails and creating a more moody, lounge vibe. The dining and bar programs are backed by serious talent – Josh Williams, originally from Mississippi, who cooked at Brennan’s, August, Compère Lapin and, most recently, Chloe; and Tommy Linville, director of beverages, who hails from DC from the Founding Farmers restaurant group.
1117 Decatur Street
Local chef Eric Cook followed up his first successful Gris-Gris restaurant with Saint John on October 6, serving a menu of modern Creole cuisine for lunch, dinner and brunch, dishes like slow-braised smothered turkey necks, choux pastry with chicken and shrimps, courtbouillon and pork belly cassoulet.
110, rue S. Rempart
Chef Nanyo Dominguez opened Bésame in early October across from the edge of the neighborhood, with food and drinks worth the trip north to south of the rampart. Dominguez serves ceviche in the styles of Mexico City, Oaxaca, Peru, and the Dominican Republic; Argentinian and Mexican empanadas; Colombian and Venezuelan style arepas; and larger plates like seafood paella and lomo saltado.
Do you have a restaurant or a pop-up tip? Have you noticed the opening or closing of a spot in your neighborhood? Let us know.
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