While the trend toward casual dining is prevalent in New Orleans, John Besh and team have shirked the status quo with the newly-opened Caribbean Room. The ultra-luxurious, white tablecloth restaurant—jackets required, gentlemen— comes at a time when fine dining, especially Creole fine dining, seems to be vanishing.
Let's be honest. The Caribbean Room is a nostalgia play. The LGD landmark once played host to numerous celebrities and New Orleans regulars, who celebrated special occasions with Crab Remick and Mile High Pie. Now the good times are back.
The long lost restaurant has been resurrected by Besh Group as part of a swanky $10 million revamp of the Pontchartrain Hotel, and it's aiming to take a place among the city's grand dames.
A sprawling dining area features seating for 72 in a lush setting of bird prints and banana leaves. A lounge area of lush velvet sofas and chairs has become quite the destination itself, with guests arriving for cocktails and Mile High Pie without dinner reservations.
AJ Capital has brought a knack for contemporary design to the restaurant, with a hint of irreverence— yes, there is a eyecatching painting of Lil Wayne— and that modernity is also reflected in the menu.
Executive chef Chris Lusk, regarded as one of the best hotel-focused executive chefs in New Orleans with a resume that includes both R'evolution and Cafe Adelaide, has updated the restaurant's classics via modern technique and a reliance on seasonal ingredients. The current menu is all about locally-foraged chanterelles, served with grouper and the filet, not to mention stuffed squash blossoms.
While Caribbean Room is obviously a destination for Mile High Pie and features an abundance of fresh seafood, the menu also has a few surprises for meat lovers— a lamb tongue and asparagus salad, rabbit and dumplings, a foie appetizer that includes a 'Foie Newton.' The adjacent Bayou Bar is also home to one of the best new burgers in town (an ode to Bud's Broiler, the bun slathered in bone marrow and hickory sauce).
Cocktail lovers are flocking to the rooftop bar Hot Tin, which boasts some of the finest new cocktails in town along with a killer view.
Status: Officially open at 2031 St. Charles Avenue, daily, 5 to 10 p.m.