Rene Louapre IV continues his quest to eat at every New Orleans institution, making his way to Restaurant August this week for a $20 lunch, ahem, "the best deal in town." Though he questions how much time John Besh actually spends in the kitchen, the "well-tuned" team turns out cuisine oozing with "elegant, multi-component dishes which appear incredibly simple, yet impossible to recreate at home," leaving Louapre's weekly dilemma? Is it worth it?? to be answered with a laughable Absolutely.
While Restaurant August remains an impeccable example of New Orleans fine dining, especially for "well-heeled visitors with expense accounts and sophisticated tastes," not to mention gnocchi lovers, Loupre wishes the restaurant spent a little more time cultivating the wines-by-the-glass options. And then there's this: "The faux Besh signature on each page of the menu (and website) needs to be retired; its like wearing a high school letter jacket as a freshmen in college." [BlackenedOut]
Ian McNulty gears up for his Zou Bisou Bisou solo this week, with a trip to the sometimes riotous, always refined and retro, Bouligny Tavern. The Sam Cooke soundtrack, "100 deep" wine list, and " a culinary DNA... intertwined with Lilette," (Chef John Harris opened the tavern next to Lilette) attract loads of well-adorned diamond-dripping party people in a setting somewhere between an "homage to mid-century modern or a Playboy shoot from the airbrush era." So, like, sexy sumptuous Mad Men? But the time-capsule effect ends there, says McNulty. "The food and drink are synchronized to modern trends for casual, small-plate dining and fine cocktails."
Sous Chef Michael Isolani turns out "elemental pleasures like raw oysters" and "spinach and ricotta gnudi are among the best in town" though some dishes are too oily, or just fall flat: "While frying gnocchi does raise their finger food potential I don't think it improves them, nor does an overdose of truffle oil."
And while McNulty says you can usually get a table before 7p.m., after that you better be prepared to forfeit the water service and just "keep the party going" amidst the stylish hoards. [Gambit]