So Tamarind is officially open inside the revamped Hotel Modern, opening for dinner service Saturday night. Bellocq, the cocktail bar by Neal Bodenheimer and Kirk Estopinal of Cure, was due to open Saturday as well but construction on that space is still ongoing. It's now scheduled to open for reals this Thursday. We stopped by before opening on Saturday to get some photos of the inside.
The restaurant dining room is just off the hotel lobby with its own, separate entrance via the side courtyard. Bellocq is on the opposite side of this courtyard. Artwork in the restaurant is by Madilynn Nelson and Amanda Stone Talley, both of whom created art for Macquet's previous restaurants. The only issue with the restaurant (at least at first glance) is that the bathroom is practically hidden, well out of the dining room past the lobby, practically through a labyrinth.
We didn't get our hands on a menu to post here, but we did talk to Macquet about it. According to the man himself, the inspiration for doing an upscale Vietnamese concept was threefold, coming out of the strong Vietnamese influence in his home island of Mauritius, as well as the long French history in Vietnam and the French and Vietnamese presence in New Orleans. Along with chef de cuisine Quan Tran, they'll be sourcing most of their ingredients locally, hooking up with some local farmers who agreed to grow Asian ingredients for them.
And while Bellocq isn't open for another couple days and the space wasn't anywhere near complete when we stopped in for photos, we did get a couple shots in there to give a sense of what it's going to look like. The best one, probably, is the octopus punch bowl. (The menu at Bellocq will consist mostly of cobblers and punches, though the punch won't actually be served in this pewter bowl.) Neal Bodenheimer introduced the bowl saying, "Wanna see something fucking awesome?" and then pulling it from a closet. And yeah, that's a pretty good way to describe it.