Setting the Table for 2016
A look at what lies ahead.
What a roller-coaster ride 2015 has been. A massive collection of new restaurants arrived. A few opened, only to fold within months. The great Paul Prudhomme passed on to that great kitchen in the sky. Patrons were robbed at gunpoint at Uptown establishments. Heck, a restaurateur even got in trouble for shooting a possum.
It’s hard to say with confidence what 2016 will hold for the restaurant business. It will be hard to match the drama of 2015, but we will certainly see another fresh batch of restaurants. In fact, some of the biggest names in New Orleans cuisine will be opening new venues. Here are a few notables.
Meril — 424 Girod. Emeril Lagasse is opening new doors in the Warehouse District. Not far from his famed eponymous restaurant, Emeril’s new place will be located within the new 425 Notre Dame condominium development. Meril will be the celebrity chef’s fourth New Orleans restaurant in his storied 25 years as a restaurant owner, with NOLA and Delmonico rounding out the quartet.
Ted Brennan’s Decatur Restaurant — 309 Decatur. It seems like there’s always another Brennan restaurant in the offing. Teddy Brennan’s ambitious project for a forlorn Decatur Street building is expected to feature Chef Lazone Randolph, reuniting the team from Brennan’s before it was acquired and rebooted by Teddy’s cousin Ralph.
Trinity — 1117 Decatur. Down the street from Ted Brennan’s project, another renovation underway will yield Trinity, envisioned as a neighborhood restaurant under Chef Scott Maki, an Emeril’s alumnus. Italian fans will remember the location as the former Maximo’s, which closed in 2015 after a quarter-century run.
Creole House — 509 Canal. For as long as I can remember, the oldest building on Canal Street has been occupied by a fast-food restaurant. The latest resident was Arby’s. Located just up Canal from the Custom House, this historic treasure has been crying out for classier treatment. Creole House will come from the same team that runs Bombay Club and Broussard’s, so some kind of upgrade appears imminent.
Rosa Mezcal — 1814 Magazine. While the “Mexication” of the local restaurant scene seems to have hit a critical mass, Rosa Mezcal hopes there is still room for another entry. From the same team that brought Habaneros to Covington, Rosa Mezcal bills itself as an authentic purveyor of “urban” Mexican cuisine.
Unnamed restaurant — 825 Rosedale. Susan Spicer has a penchant for putting her restaurants in unexpected places. Part of Bayona’s charm is its low-key Dauphine Street location. Mondo brought fine dining to a humble Lakeview commercial spot. (Years ago, it was a little pizza parlor where the neighborhood kids went to play the arcade game Centipede.) But the latest location takes the cake: a nondescript old police station in the middle of a neighborhood at the cemeteries end of Lakeview.
Peter Reichard is a native New Orleanian who has written about the life and times of the city for more than 20 years, including as a former newspaper editor and business journalist.