After months of anticipation, a new cocktail bar and restaurant behind the French Quarter’s historic Old Absinthe House finally opens its doors to the public today, October 17. Belle Epoque takes over the former Tony Moran’s restaurant to lift up a talented pair: Hayley Vanvleet, the opening chef at Curio, and Laura Bellucci, SoBou’s former head bartender.
The lounge is an extension of the Old Absinthe House, bought by Jober’t Salem from Tony Moran in 2002. Belle Epoque and the Old Absinthe House, along with nearby event spaces and a string of French Quarter daiquiri shops, operate under Salem’s Rue Bourbon Hospitality group. The group took on a ten month historic renovation, resulting in a design-heavy space with extravagant chandeliers, a restoration of the original Absinthe House bar, and antique water drip absinthe fountains.
Vanvleet’s menu is designed to complement the featured spirit, with starters like raw oysters with absinthe mignonette, crab and sweet potato gnocchi, and a dish called “The Ugly Dumplings,” French onion soup dumplings. Entrees include a coq a vin fried chicken, gulf fish with crispy kale and sauce vierge (olive oil, lemon juice, tomato and basil), lamb loin chops, and grilled head-on shrimp with farro. Belle Epoque joins fellow French Quarter newcomer Justine in offering the trendy raclette service, melted cheese scraped off the wheel tableside.
As of October 17, Belle Epoque is open from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday, and from 3 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Sunday. A late-night happy hour runs from midnight until 2 a.m.
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