Food + Drink
Restaurants get in the spirits, hot dining dish and beefed-up s'mores.
There is nothing new about restaurants with big bar/cocktail/beer programs or bars with serious food. But New Orleans’ newest restaurant iteration is found tucked into distilleries and breweries, places where booze is the front man—sometimes the raison d’être—though the food is no slacker. Sound intriguing? It is.
The new Lula Restaurant Distillery ( 1532 St. Charles Ave., 504.267.7624) produces vodka, rum and gin made from 100% Louisiana sugarcane products, and offers retail bottles for purchase on site. To dine, Lula co-owner and chef Jess Bourgeois created a menu that could easily be dubbed “Contemporary Louisiana.” Kick off with saltysweet boudin eggrolls and a sticky fig-molasses dipping sauce, then try the tender braised rabbit with pickled pork-flecked white beans or Gulf shrimp lacquered and spiked with Lula Rum.
Recently opened Effervescence Bubbles & Bites (1036 N. Rampart St., 504.509.7644) features Champagnes and sparkling wines (by the bottle, glass and on tap) from France, Italy and Spain. The menu of small plates includes fried chicken, grilled octopus and caviar with crème fraîche and fresh-fried potato chips. Dessert is a hollowed-out grapefruit half filled with frozen grapefruit spheres, a drape of Champagne sabayon and a wisp of edible gold leaf.
The recent swell in local breweries is just short of shocking (currently hovering at around 17), with a number now adding dedicated restaurant spaces. The tap room at NOLA Brewing (p. 54) features pit man Neil McClure’s big barbecue menu and a few surprises (pho, poutine and tacos made with smoked meats) that are a great match for the house-made beers. Joining the growing trend, soon-to-open Port Orleans Brewing Company will house Stokehold, chefs Jeremy Wolgamott, Phillip Mariano and Tim Bordes’ new venture serving dishes with a modern American, Southern and Italian vibe, built around the beer brewed on site. —Lorin Gaudin