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New Orleans: Restaurant R’evolution
The scene: Set in a warren off the courtyard of the Royal Sonesta Hotel, this meandering 160-seat restaurant features a different mood for each room — from the plush parlor with its hand-painted murals and antique teardrop chandelier to the Market Room with its gleaming exhibition kitchen to the stained-oak bar with its dim gas lamps and selection of house-infused ratafias. All of which adds up to a level of ambition and polish that the French Quarter hasn’t seen in years.
The food: The menu — a collaboration between Creole culinarian John Folse and Chicago hotshot Rick Tramonto — features more than 50 items that illustrate the range of influences of Louisiana cuisine. Snapping turtle soup with Madeira, sizzling oysters with smoked butter, and crawfish-stuffed flounder create a sense of place; jamón Ibérico de bellota and sugar-cured foie gras with blueberry gastrique promise a high level of luxury. Not to be ignored are the terrific house pastas, including a tajarin with gulf crab and saffron. After dessert, the mignardises come in a lacquered jewelry box; you open the drawers to find all the goodies.
(Photo: Restaurant R'evolution)