It's Tuesday, which means this week's Gambit is out with a new review by Ian McNulty. This week, he hits up Sassafras Creole & Seafood Restaurant in Gentilly. Recounting the history of this Creole eatery by the Duckworth family, McNulty tells the tale of its opening in New Orleans East in 2004, followed by a post-Katrina move to Read Boulevard before finally settling down by the University of New Orleans campus.
But more important than the history is McNulty's appreciation of the restaurant's authentic, down-home cooking: "It's the food we expect to find in some New Orleans homes, and food I'm especially happy to find in Gentilly as more restaurants return to the area." And while the long menu offers some more eclectic dishes "probably to offer something for everyone," McNulty goes there "solely for the dishes with Creole flavor." He points to the smothered okra, the gumbo, the red beans and others as examples of Sassafras' strong Creole heritage.
Meanwhile, in this week's CityBusiness, Tom Fitzmorris reviews Redemption (subscription required), a more-or-less Creole restaurant located in a church building in Mid City. Redemption is owned by Tommy and Maria Delaune, a couple who bought the church from the Christian's owner after Katrina "persuaded" him to retire. The Delaunes opened Redemption at the end of 2010.
The early reports on Redemption were kind of meh, but this past November chef Greg Piccolo arrived after the Bistro at the Maison de Ville closed. Fitzmorris writes that "Picolo is a major creative force with a strong appreciation of the special magic that imbues this restaurant," though the "menu is still evolving." Despite that, he talks up Picolo's menu there, writing that it "will wind up with the best of its original menu (the gumbo, stuffed shrimp, duck and filet), a few Christian’s classics (smoked soft-shell crab and stuffed fish), and the latest experiments from the chef’s fertile mind."
That doesn't even start to get into the quality of the seafood. Fitzmorris notes that the Delaunes own their own wholesale seafood house. "That’s like a steakhouse with its own cattle herd."
The Sassafras dining room. [Photo: Urbanspoon / Sandy]