Thursday, April 5, 2012


Photo by renee b. photography.
Last week Rene and I were involved in an email discussion with a PR person about recent restaurant openings around town and why certain spots are touted more than others in the national and local media.

"I want to know why people think Sylvain is the best thing since sliced bread," he said. "I've been there - dig the atmosphere, the food's solid, but not something I'd write home about."

The fact that he brought up Sylvain was quite coincidental, considering that the Quarter gastropub/restaurant was the subject of our Dining Out column in this month's issue of OffBeat Magazine, which had just hit the presses a few days before.

The reasons that we chose to review Sylvain for this particular month are indicative of its popularity, in my opinion. April, as we all know, is the time of year when the Vieux Carre swells to capacity with tourists and locals packing the streets for the long Easter weekend, French Quarter Fest, multiple conventions, and Jazz Fest evening celebrations. Anticipating these crowds, our editor always encourages us to choose a restaurant in the Quarter to review for April issue. And considering the state of mind (sunburn and inebriated) and dress (shorts and sandals) of most potential restaurant patrons during this time of year, we seek out more casual spots in the Quarter befitting of the typical reader.

The problem is: How many casual restaurants in the Quarter offer food worth writing about? When you are too dressed down to dine at Bayona or Galatoire's but not drunk enough to consider eating at the River's Edge or Bubba Gump's Shrimp Company, what are your choices?

In recent years several restaurants have stepped up to fill in this gap in the French Quarter dining scene - Green Goddess, El Gato Negro, and Sylvain, to name a few. The fact that all of the above examples offer menus which do not include gumbo, jambalaya, or shrimp remoulade is further justification that not every diner is in search of typical creole fare. But they all serve solid (or in Green Goddess' case, borderline excellent) food at reasonable prices in a unique and interesting atmosphere.

Not exactly a shocking recipe for success.

625 Chartres Street
(504) 265-8123
Mon-Thur: 5:30pm-11:00pm
Fri-Sat: 11:30am-2:30pm; 5:30pm-12:00pm
Sun: 10:30am-2:30pm (Brunch); 5:30pm-10:00pm


Jake said...

The French Quarter needs a frites stand. I'm sick of not being able to find good snacks at night.

Anonymous said...

This is off topic, but with Easter right around the corner, y'all should consider doing a feature on crawfish bisque. A good recipe to start with is the one from Emeril's Real and Rustic Cookbook.

kibbles said...

ya had me until El Gato Negro... sorry, but while their margaritas are great the food is ew. and they use store-bought chips. double ew.

NMissC said...

A Beard award chef from out of town (with N.O. roots) told me to check it out, which I did. Have been several times and had these reactions:

The room is beautiful. Better sort of re-thinking of the space than I'd expect in the Quarter.

The cocktail menu is very good and almost to cutting edge.

The food is... if you're in the quarter and looking for something late-ish, well worth checking out. But not startlingly good or even close to that.

Service? At least one a few visits, they've not got that wired. Pleasant folks, but they're not thinking about serving customers.

I'll be back if in the Quarter, but not going hunting for it.