Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Say It Ain't So, Picolo

Yesterday, Peter pondered what had we lost and gained post-Katrina. Unfortunately today's post is not as uplifting. On Sunday twitterumors leaked that The Bistro at the Maison de Ville had closed for good. The restaurant's website and voicemail says the restaurant is "closed for vacation and renovation." Chef/Owner Greg Picolo responded to a request for a comment with, "We are closed 4 vacation til mid sept. When we will asses reopening possibilities.  will keep u posted. thx.' (sic)

Reopening possibilities? That doesn't sound good. Should the Bistro not reopen this is a sad loss for a variety of reasons. First, the Bistro had been for most of its history a wonderful training camp for some of New Orleans best known chefs. People like Susan Spicer, Daniel Bonnot and more had cooked and earned their chops from that tiny kitchen. There is a sense that dining there is like dining nowhere else in the world.

For years, Greg Picolo has operated the restaurant with his unique take on French Bistro classics. One could spend a mighty fine afternoon hiding in the red leathered banquettes surrounded by mirrors and dark woods, drinking ice cold martinis, and spreading pate over hot, crusty loaves of French bread. Throw in some wines and well, the place had a way of making New Orleans seem like the greatest kept secret in the world. The Bistro, as everyone called it, was a remarkable spot because it combined the devoted patronage of a tony club with the "everyone is welcome" recruitment drive of a cult.

The Bistro also gave birth to the Krewe of Cork. Back when Patrick van Hoorebeck spent his time as the maitre' d of the restaurant, a group of regulars got the itch after a hearty wine soaked meal to parade around the quarter. Eleven years later the Krewe of Cork is a thriving Mardi Gras tradition and just another example of the influence of restaurants on this city.

Here's to hoping it comes back right soon. But if not, if The Bistro has indeed closed, it is time to find a new spot for Friday lunches.

PS The photo above is the only remaining evidence, besides a credit card, receipt of a lunch on the Friday before Christmas in 2010. If you look really closely you can see Bloggle yelling at someone, anyone, everyone.

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