One of the tremendous burdens of my “real” job is that I must travel to cities such as New Orleans and inspect hotels to see their suitability for conferences. Often, in the spirit of “taking one for the team,” I’ll have to go to local dining establishments to check their quality. Oh, the agony!
Kidding aside, any opportunity to visit the “Big Easy” is a cause for rejoicing. During my most recent visit I had the chance to dine at one of the most talked-about restaurants in New Orleans, Restaurant R’evolution thanks to the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau.
R’evolution is the partnership of two world-famous chefs, Rick Tramonto and John Folse. Friends for over a decade, the two chefs deepened their bond in the wake of Hurricane Katrina when Folse asked Tramonto to join his large-scale efforts to feed survivors and rescuers across the region. They later joined forces to open Restaurant R’evolution in June 2012 at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in the French Quarter.
The décor of the restaurant connects with the soul of New Orleans, but with a contemporary twist. It is upscale casual, but hip – and the service is impeccable. In addition to the dining area, there is a speakeasy style Bar R’evolution with chef-driven craft cocktails. Their wine cellar has 10,000 selections, with an emphasis on those that pair well with Cajun and Creole cuisine.
We opened with a cool spoonful of lobster gazpacho, just the right bite to get our palates humming. Earlier in the day we got the insider tip to be sure to try to crab beignets. New Orleans + crab + beignet sounds like a perfect formula to me. These airy pastries melted in our mouths with a burst of flavor.
At this point we were ready for our appetizer (no sense rushing a meal at a place like R’evolution!). I had one of the best beet salads I’ve ever eaten. It featured roasted baby beets (red, gold and pink) with goat cheese and candied pecans with fresh micro-greens. So flavorful!
To accompany our meal, I selected the Aurelien Verdet Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits Le Prieuré 2011. This Pinot Noir has a ripe raspberry bouquet with concentrated berry flavors. It is a refined wine which paired brilliantly with my duck entrée as well as the fish and beef enjoyed by my other dinner guests.
Our meal was certainly not over. The night in New Orleans was still young. For dessert I relied on my inside source and asked for the sampler of homemade ice cream. Three small scoops were provided: vanilla bean, toasted marshmallow and the buzz-worthy crunchy peanut butter. The peanut butter ice cream was worth the trip alone – rich and silken decadence.
Then we were done, but a large red box arrived at our table. It appeared to be a jewelry box. I assumed that it contained various teas to enjoy after dinner. Instead we found that each drawer contained a delicious truffle or pastry. They were made all the more delectable because you had to slide open a drawer to reveal what was inside.
If this is a revolution, let’s make the best of it! Viva la R’evolution!
Restaurant R’evolution is located in the Royal Sonesta Hotel New Orleans at 777 Bienville St.