Ian McNulty scoops up the first look at Beachbum Berry's tiki mecca Latitude 29, which opens to the public this afternoon (3 p.m.) in the French Quarter. The former Iris space (located in the Bienville Hotel) has now been remodeled into a tiki-chic, retro affair with "hut shaped booths and hanging glass floats" among carved art and artifacts.
Berry and wife Annene Kaye hope to harken back to the days of Bali Ha'i when tiki was regarded as a classy affair, and he's lined up an opening staff that is all class to make that happen: local bartending pros Brad Smith and Hadi Ktiri are on board, and Rhiannon Enlil is in charge of event planning. Bar manager Steve Yamada has designed a menu of 20+ cocktails from Berry's recipes, classics, and signatures. The team will use the restaurant's happy hour (from 3-7 p.m. daily) to experiment with new signature drinks.
As for the food, chef Chris Shortall has created a menu as enticing and colorful as the drinks will be, including a DUMPLING PROGRAM, a burger with a seaweed bun,veggie options like a shaved bamboo salad, and then these two beauties:
The Cuban sandwich is reconfigured with fried ham, pork belly, cream cheese and pineapple mustard on a semi-sweet pineapple and vanilla bread the chef bakes in house... Order a steak and it will arrive with whipped purple sweet potatoes topped with golden mango and mint for a color scheme reminiscent of LSU fanfare.