Monday, August 29, 2011

Six Years Later

A few weeks ago we shared a few pints with Todd Price in preparation for the food panel at Rising Tide. Our discussion mostly focused on post-Katrina life - which restaurants came back first, why food was instrumental in the recovery, what new restaurants and food purveyors were birthed after the storm, etc. But then someone stopped and asked, "Well, we know what is here now that wasn't here before Katrina. What about the places that were lost and never came back?"

To be honest, we had a tough time remembering.

There was Barrow's, home of the best fried catfish in Orleans parish. Gerard Crozier abandoned his relatively new Chateaubriand, which was the best steakhouse in the city. Christian's probably was the best overall and is the most missed restaurant to be lost because of Katrina. La Cuisine was off our radar because neither of us had begun to collect social security before August 29, 2005. You probably already know about the well documented plight of Gabrielle. Mandich and La Riviera never returned. Neither did Cobalt. There were certainly others that we are forgetting to mention.

Last year during the lead up to the 5 year anniversary of the levee failure, we counted down the Top 20 Post-Katrina additions to the New Orleans food and drink scene. In light of our retrospective review of what was lost, the next question is obvious:

Is the New Orleans culinary scene better now than it was before August 29, 2005?

In our opinion, yes. Katrina brought both devastation and opportunity to the New Orleans dining community. Looking back six years later, our recovery shows that the chefs and restaurateurs endured through the former, which allowed them to seize the latter. Granted, several of the city's top restaurants - Stella, August, Gautreau's - were there before and are still here after the storm. But think about the young chefs who have made their mark at places like Patois, Coquette, Domenica, and Rue 127. And then there are the more established chefs who expanded their reach - Adolfo Garcia, Susan Spicer, and Donald Link to name a few.

We will never forget our favorite restaurants of the past. But six years of perspective shows us that the state of the New Orleans restaurant scene is strong and perhaps better than ever.


The artist formerly known as bloggle. said...

Perfectly said.

willifred said...

Dining will never be the same for me without Table 3 at 9 o'clock at Gabbrielle

RBPoBoy said...

I miss my Friday lunches at Bruning's.

Peter said...

Thanks, Bloggle.

No doubt that Gabrielle was a special place for you, Willifred. Here's to hoping that you find a regular table at your new favorite restaurant.

Great call on Bruning's, RBP.

Anonymous said...

Some places that came back were not the same...I'm thinking specifically of Mandina's, which, while not fine dining, used to be my favorite turtle soup in the city. Now it's just brown gloopy stuff.

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Marisol :(