In the past few years, this spirit of invention, creation and experimentation has re-invaded the city’s culinary landscape, and we’ve seen restaurants representing every conceivable — and some seemingly inconceivable — type of cuisine open. New Orleans is now bursting at the seams with more restaurants than ever before, and with even more on the way, and my stomach couldn’t be happier. Here are five upcoming restaurant openings we’re excited about.
1. Balise. The newest project of La Petite Grocery chef/owner Justin Devillier has pretty much all food-centric folks in the city on edge, awaiting any news on Balise. Devillier has hinted that Balise will be “more casual,” “more masculine” and “more CBD” than La Petite Grocery, and also what it won’t be — “La Petite 2.0.” While renovations are long underway, there is no definitive opening date yet. For now, Balise is hoping to open before the new year.
2. Brennan’s. Brennan’s had been one of New Orleans’ most famous restaurants and bears the name of the first family of New Orleans fine dining. In fact, brunch at Brennan’s was an absolute must do in New Orleans. But in recent years, Brennan’s had become a shadow of its former self, seemingly content to trade on name and past reputation. Eventually a host of issues led to the shuttering of the restaurant. That is when Ralph Brennan, the cousin of the restaurant’s former owners, swooped in to rescue the grand restaurant with hopes of restoring it to its former glory. Chef Slade Rushing (formerly of MiLa) has been hired for his gift of being able to execute classic dishes in a way that is innovative and familiar at the same time. Brennan has also invested millions of dollars in the historic French Quarter property so that the entire restaurant experience can be as inspired and pleasing as its menu. Fortunately for all of us, the renovations are nearing completion and the re-birth of Brennan’s is rapidly approaching. There has been no announcement of a grand opening yet, but keep an eye on their website. I’d venture an announcement about the re-opening date should be coming soon.
3.Red’s Chinese. Another addition to the booming Bywater restaurant scene, Red’s Chinese promises to blend Chinese and Southern cuisine at its St. Claude Avenue spot. So far entrees like General Lee’s chicken — fried half-chicken with bourbon soy sauce, smoked peanuts, chili and cilantro — and Bywater eggplant — mirliton, gochujang, sunflower seeds and white sesame — give a hint at how interesting the combination of the two very different cuisines can be and how well the two can work together. Red’s Chinese is looking to open up by mid-November. Check their website or Facebook page, where they’ll announce their official opening date as soon as they have it.
4. Purloo. Most local food fans were able to get a sneak peek at the Southern style food and drink of Purloo during its weekly pop up series which started last January. But even those early fans will be a bit surprised when the brick and mortar Purloo opens up in the Southern Food and Beverage Museum (SoFAB) in Central City this month. Purloo promises to be an eating and learning establishment. The restaurants seats will wrap around the kitchen providing a full, unvarnished look at what really goes into getting a meal on the table. Another interesting twist is that the restaurant will be “curated” as if it were another exhibit in the museum, with every part of the experience labeled.
5. Latitude 29. Latitude 29 is the work of rum and tiki drink master Jeff “Beachbum” Berry. The bar program is going to be unapologetically tiki, while the restaurant will be offering up a mix of Asian and Polynesian cuisines. While most of the menu has been kept under wraps, there promises to be some tiki-fied petite cut ribs. While Berry and company have been keeping many of the restaurants details away from prying eyes, he and his wife have assembled a dynamite crew including cocktail experts Steve Yamada and Rhiannon Enlil and chef Chris Shortall. With a team like that, I don’t even need to set foot in Latitude 29 to tell you that it is going to be great. Latitude 29 will be opening any minute now — as in it might actually be open by the time you read this — in the Bienville House Hotel in the French Quarter near the Mississippi River.