In the last month, a handful of promising new restaurants or bars have opened in or just outside of New Orleans’s French Quarter, a welcome dining renaissance led by local names in a neighborhood commonly portrayed as catering to out-of-towners. Two more spots are joining the scene, reports NOLA.com: Bijou, an upscale bar and restaurant from a former Bayona chef opening today, and MaMou, also led by alums of top local restaurants, set to open early next year.
The two restaurants are located within a block of one another on North Rampart Street, the northernmost boundary of the French Quarter: Bijou in a small building at 1014 N. Rampart St., and MaMou at 942 N. Rampart St., the address formerly home to longtime neighborhood bistro Meauxbar. That restaurant, which was owned for its last seven years by local restaurant group LeBlanc and Smith, closed in October 2020.
New Orleans chef Tom Branighan, who’s worked at a number of top local spots over the years but most recently at fellow (former) LeBlanc and Smith spot Longway Tavern, and sommelier Molly Wismeier, who worked as beverage director for the Quarter’s splurge-worthy Restaurant R’evolution, are working together to open MaMou. The modern French bistro is expected in early 2022 (LeBlanc and Smith is not involved in the project).
Bijou’s building has never been a restaurant before, but the sweet historic Creole cottage has been retrofitted with a modern-looking lounge, two bars, and a narrow dining area that spills onto a back courtyard that also offers seating. It was developed by a small group of local investor types and nightclub proprietors including Jeff Bromberger, who owns venues Maison and Dragon’s Den, according to NOLA.com. The kitchen is led by Eason Barksdale, who worked for Susan Spicer for 14 years, at Mondo and Bayona. He’s focusing on small plates for the concise menu; a number of cuisines are explored across dishes like tom yum chicken, squid ink spaghetti, and tuna tartare. Bijou is now open for dinner Wednesday through Saturday at 4 p.m., and for brunch (starting at 11 a.m.) and dinner on Sunday.
For those keeping track, below is a roundup of the new restaurants and bars to debut in or just outside of the French Quarter in October 2021, arranged by most recent opening date:
615 Toulouse St.
This new bar, music venue, and nightclub opens Friday, October 29 in the former One Eyed Jacks, a longtime Quarter club shuttered during the pandemic. It’s being revived by Preservation Hall proprietor Ben Jaffe, his wife Jeannette, and another local couple; the project is backed by “several unnamed music industry investors” rumored to include Dave Grohl.
The Will and the Way
719 Toulouse St.
The latest from LeBlanc and Smith, the Will and the Way replaced Longway Tavern in mid-October, shifting focus to wine and cocktails and creating a more moody, loungey vibe. Food and bar programs are backed by serious talent — Mississippi native Josh Williams, who’s cooked at Brennan’s, August, Compère Lapin, and most recently the Chloe; and Tommy Linville, beverage director, who comes from D.C. from the Founding Farmers restaurant group.
1117 Decatur St.
Local chef Eric Cook followed up his hit debut restaurant Gris-Gris with Saint John on October 6, serving a menu of modern Creole cuisine for lunch, dinner, and brunch, dishes like slow-braised smothered turkey necks, chicken and shrimp maque choux, courtbouillon, and pork belly cassoulet.
110 S. Rampart St.
Chef Nanyo Dominguez opened Bésame at the beginning of October across the street from the edge of the Quarter, with food and drinks worth the walk from North to South Rampart. Dominguez serves ceviche in the styles of Mexico City, Oaxaca, Peru, and the Dominican Republic; Argentinian and Mexican-style empanadas; Colombian and Venezuelan-style arepas; and bigger plates like seafood paella and lomo saltado.
Do you have a restaurant or pop-up tip? Noticed a spot in your neighborhood opening or closing? Let us know.
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- Former Meauxbar in French Quarter is becoming a new bistro inspired by classics [NOLA.COM]
- At new French Quarter restaurant Bijou, veteran chef brings a bit of Bayona with him [NOLA.COM]
- A New Club With Big-Deal Music Industry Backers Opens in the French Quarter
- French Quarter Newcomer Saint John Pays Tribute to New Orleans’s Creole Culinary Tradition
- At Bésame, Nanyo Dominguez Celebrates Latin American Ceviche, Spirits, and Culture