by Sue Strachan
THERE IS ALWAYS SOMETHING going on in New Orleans — summer heat or not. And, with so much happening, Inside New Orleans scoped out what should be on your radar.
BROUSSARD’S DINING THROUGH THE DECADES
Broussard’s reached its 100th anniversary in 2020. The restaurant had plans to mark the occasion, but the COVID-19 pandemic caused the restaurant to cancel or push some of the special events to 2021.
One of them was the Centennial Menus which the restaurant created to celebrate the state’s fruit, vegetables or products. Now, to continue honoring its anniversary, the restaurant has moved forward with these focused menus while celebrating 101 years, according to Rebecca Schattman, general manager of the restaurant.
“Chef Jimi Setchim is paying tribute to all the ingredients,” she says. Louisiana coffee, rice, pecans, citrus and spices are included. Currently the restaurant is featuring a special berry menu, in addition to its regular menu, that can be ordered prix fixe or a la carte. Among the menu items are: strawberry gazpacho; a honey- glazed salmon with an herb and pecan couscous, charred broccolini and topped with a blueberry-honey gastrique; and a blueberry and almond bread pudding. This menu runs through September.
The restaurant has also been hosting monthly Century Suppers. The first featured food and cocktails reminiscent of the 1920s, then progressed through the later decades, mimicking “the development of food over time,” says Schattman. “We have featured older Broussard’s dishes and those with a global scale.”
The menu pairs cocktails with the dishes. For example, for the 1960s dinner on July 14, a Vieux Carré cocktail, made of Redemption Rye, Benedictine, brandy, sweet vermouth and topped with a maraschino cherry, was paired with an allspice-crusted rack of lamb. Upcoming dinners are: Aug. 11, the 1970s featuring Jose Cuervo Tradicional; Sept. 15, the 1980s featuring Don Q Rum; and Oct. 13, the 1990s featuring Absolut Vodka.
Broussard’s is part of Creole Cuisine Restaurant Concepts. New to its properties this summer are the “cool zones” that have been situated in balconies and patios, including Curio and Flamingo-A-Go-Go, allowing guests to enjoy the outdoors while staying cool.
REAL ESTATE – THAT’S HOT!
One thing everyone can agree on is that the real estate market in New Orleans is hot.
And Brittany Picolo-Ramos of Godwyn & Stone Real Estate is right there in the middle of it. She is also the star of “Selling the Big Easy” on HGTV, scheduled to kick off season two in September.
“The market is still very healthy in New Orleans,” says Picolo-Ramos. “It’s good for buyers and sellers.” Neighborhoods such as Uptown, Lakeview and those on the Northshore remain popular. She noted that since the COVID-19 pandemic started, people are looking for more yard and entertainment space.
“Slidell is growing,” she says, “And Kenner and Destrehan have seen a huge boom.” Picolo-Ramos also says she finds it is out-of-towners, such as those from New York or California, who want to buy homes in New Orleans. Another popular request—whether the buyer is from New Orleans or not—is houses with pools.
EXPANDING ITS SERVICES
Nestled into Uptown by the Mississippi River is LCMC Health’s Children’s Hospital, which has been expanding for more than four years resulting in a $300 million transformation of its campus when completed this fall.
“We often compare this incredibly complex project to ‘changing an airplane engine while in flight.’ Throughout the multi-year construction project, our staff has remained focused on providing expert care for kids,” says Ben Whitworth, vice president of Hospital Operations, Children’s Hospital New Orleans. “Our team has been amazing with the ebb and flow of the changes.”
Among the many highlights are: the new Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders; the Hank and Betty Lauricella Pavilion, which houses the clinic’s lobby and registration area for patients; an expanded Emergency Care; the new Behavioral Health Center; a Pediatric Palliative Care center called The Pelican Krewe, and, in partnership with Hogs for the Cause, the Hogs House provides housing for families who live outside of New Orleans and have a child receiving care at the hospital.
Cider in New Orleans? Well, actually in Jefferson Parish, and it’s the new project of Colleen Keogh.
Kingfish Cider was founded in 2018 by Keogh, who first caught onto the craft cider boom when in Austin, Texas, and then wanted to bring it to New Orleans. “A lot of people haven’t had craft cider,” says Keogh. “After tasting it, they say, ‘Oh, this is different,’ because they are exposed to what is commercially out there, such as Woodchuck or Angry Orchard.”
Keogh says craft cider has a different taste, along the lines of a “dry white wine or champagne.” She also notes her cider contains no sulfates or added sugars, and is gluten free. While many people think cider can only be made out of apples, Keogh says she makes hers with pears (called a “perry”) and other local fruit in addition to apples. Kingfish Cider is named after former Louisiana Gov.
Huey P. Long, whose nickname was “The Kingfish.” Each of the main cider varieties is named after someone or something related to Long: Blanche, a dry apple cider; Uncle Earl, hopped dry apple cider; Prohibition, a dry perry; and Huey Perry, the signature drink that is a medium-dry perry. St. James Cheese Company provides build-your-own charcuterie boards for snacking.
For music, the city’s famed Frenchmen Street is like a gravitational force for visitors and locals. You just can’t help to be drawn in. Jazz mainstay, Snug Harbor, has been there for more than 30 years. In 2000, d.b.a. was founded and remains one of the more popular spots to have a drink or see a live band. Owner Tom Thayer is showcasing all of your favorite musicians, most of whom “have been playing d.b.a for years,” he says.
The who’s who include John Boutté – you know him from singing the theme song for the HBO series “Treme” — as well as Meschiya Lake and the Little Big Horns, New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars, Soul Brass Band, Dave Jordan and The NIA, New Orleans Jazz Vipers, to name a few. Right now, the club is showcasing music Thursdays through Sundays, and starting Wednesdays some time in September.
UP UP AND AWAY
Tired of driving long distances or making multiple connections from New Orleans? Breeze Airways is here to the rescue.
Breeze Airways is the fifth airline start-up for CEO David Neeleman, who founded JetBlue. “It’s so exciting to be inaugurating service from New Orleans again,” says Neeleman. “I remember the JetBlue launch there so fondly 20 years ago. Now, with Breeze, we’re starting low-cost, nonstop service to ten routes from Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport to places like Charleston, Hunstville and Columbus.
“Cities that didn’t have nonstop service. With Breeze, we’ll always get you there twice as fast but also for half the price of the other airlines.” The airline’s network is starting with 39 nonstop routes between 16 cities in the Southwest, Midwest, Southeast and the Eastern U.S.
Direct flights from New Orleans started in July and include Charleston, South Carolina; Akron/Canton, Ohio; Bentonville/Fayetteville, Arkansas; Huntsville, Alabama; Louisville, Kentucky; Norfolk, Virginia; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Richmond, Virginia; Tulsa, Oklahoma and Columbus, Ohio. Breeze’s introductory “Nice” airfare starts at $39 one-way, and includes a personal item, such as a backpack or purse. Time to book your trip now!
With travel rebounding, the city has responded with a number of new high-rise hotels, and one more in the early fall. But before we dive into those, there has been a number of boutique hotels making their debuts over the past few months.
Starting the trend last year was The Chloe. A former boarding house, then bed-and-breakfast, it is now a boutique hotel with a restaurant and bar that became a popular Uptown spot the moment it opened its doors. The hotel rooms are a mix of antiques, art and clever updates that create a fresh look.
The front patio for this Queen Ann style house has scenic views of the streetcars rolling down St. Charles Avenue — and for eyeing the “who’s who” arrivals — and the food and drink are top-notch. The hotel has a pool open to the public (for a fee) 11 am to 9 pm, seven days a week with an adjacent pool bar to make sure all summery cocktails needs are met.
Columns, also on St. Charles Avenue, got a sophisticated makeover. A beloved place to have drinks, particularly on the front porch, this stately standard — it was built in 1884 — was given a refresh that longtime and new fans have approved of. Go for drinks and dinner, or stay the night in one of the chic rooms.
Debuting with a party in late June featuring the musician, St. Vincent, the Hotel St. Vincent’s eccentric ambiance is one part Italian villa, one part New Orleans sultry sensuality. With two restaurants and a bar, as well as a private bar for hotel guests only, the hotel has already attracted a crowd.
COSMOPOLITAN AND COOL
Heading downtown, there are two new hotels in the Warehouse District, and one on the edge of the French Quarter. The Kimpton Hotel Fontenot is located on the corner of Poydras and Tchoupitoulas streets. Start your day —or get a treat for later — at the Gospel Coffee & Boozy Treats, or relax in the Peacock Room, where cocktails and light bites are available. And, yes, the room is painted in the hue best known as “peacock blue.”
The Four Seasons Hotel and Private Residences in New Orleans has been one of the most eagerly anticipated launches, which is set to open in September. The former International Trade Center, which sat empty for years, has been turned into a smart and elegant place to visit or stay. Food by New Orleans chefs Donald Link and Alon Shaya and the lobby’s Chandelier Bar – highlighted by a custom chandelier designed by Preciosa using 15,000 crystals — are sure to lure visitors and locals.
Virgin Hotels New Orleans is set to debut late-summer 2021, with reservations being accepted for stays starting Labor Day weekend. “Virgin Hotels New Orleans will definitely be a go-to destination for locals,” says General Manager Cody Bertone. “The hotel will bring a fresh and new type of property to the city and will offer something for everyone.”
The building, located at 550 Baronne Street, is new construction, and will have the full Virgin panache that aficionados have come to expect, but with a New Orleans ambiance. According to Bertone, Virgin Hotels’ in-house design team partnered with leading local design firm, Logan Killen Interiors, to bring an authentic New Orleans flair to the interiors.
Virgin is also excited to be teaming up with New Orleans Chef Alex Harrell as executive chef of Commons Club, that will anchor the main entrance of the hotel and offer a modern social club experience. “We aim to go above and beyond to provide our guests with an experience that surpasses all that one would expect from Virgin Hotels– our trademark great music, food and drink, art, design and tech innovations — delivered in a way that not only captures the spirit of New Orleans, but also makes all of our guests feel at home,” says Bertone.