CBD seafood hub Grand Isle has just stepped up its game with the addition of new head chef Ryan Haigler and a new outdoor dining space. A native of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, Haigler honed his chops at Tom Colicchio's Craft and elsewhere before coming to New Orleans in 2006, where he's spent time running the charc program at Emeril's Delmonico, on the opening team of R'evolution, and as the featured chef on Dinner Lab's national tour.
Haigler brings Lowcountry, Vietnamese, and more influences to the seafood-heavy menu, along with a sense of humor—there's a can o' sardines dip available on the raw bar now. Little secret here: anything on the menu that's smoked is a must-try, including the smoked fish stew on the starters and the cold smoked Gulf tuna on the entrees. But don't overlook the cold bar selections, boils available by the pound, and Haigler's stellar pork confit with clams dish. On the pastry side, chef Jamileth Ortiz is holding down seasonal cakes, pies, and cobblers. The cocktail program is also on point right now with bartender Julia McElroy crafting bourbon and gin drinks, along with a lavender sea salt margarita.
As for the restaurant itself, a new private dining area serves up to 100 guests. More exciting for spring: a refurbished outdoor seating and lounge area along Lafayette Street now seats 64 with reclaimed tables from the Green Project, couches, and an herb garden. Expect crawfish boils on the patio as the weather continues to agree with hanging outdoors. Grand Isle is also home to a killer oyster happy hour.
Behold, Ryan Haigler's new menu: