The long dining room at the CBD’s new Rebellion Bar & Urban Kitchen (748 Camp St., 504-298-7317) covers a lot of ground between a window-lined bar area up front and its shaded patio trimmed in brick and bamboo out back. But that’s nothing compared with the reach of its menu, which combines flavors from around Asia, South America and closer to home here in the South.
So, Korean kimchi and Mexican cheese fill the empanadas. There’s a Nicoise salad next to a salad of mushrooms and Chinese broccoli dressed with miso butter and oyster sauce. And Thai chile paste and plantains go into the dirty rice accompanying the snapper.
Rebellion opened last week serving lunch only, with a fuller schedule to come. From the opening menu, however, it’s clear that proprietors Seung Hong and Michael Tran are bringing something very different to the rapidly-growing ranks of downtown restaurants.
Their chef David Dickensauge has devised a menu that starts with familiar-sounding staples from different Asian cuisines — Vietnamese spring rolls and a vegetarian pho, Japanese ramen soup, Chinese Peking duck — but is liberally stocked with cross-cultural flavors and influences.
A dish of pork belly and fried oysters, for instance, tastes as if classic Korean bo ssam was first deconstructed and then re-imagined as a bistro entrée, built around the fermented pungency of a kimchi puree and the tart bounce of pickled mushrooms and seaweed.
For a surprisingly multifaceted salad, small roasted beets and grilled chicken join shrimp, fresh herbs, citrus and strawberries, all washed in fish sauce dressing as light as it is spicy and finished with a splay of edible flowers.
On the opening menu, most appetizers, soups and salads are between $8 and $14, and most entrees are between $20 and $28.
Rebellion Bar & Urban Kitchen opened in the Camp Street spot that was most recently an expansion of the Phil’s Grill burger brand. The building was once used as a studio by legendary recording engineer Cosimo Matassa.
Though Matassa is better known for his J&M Recording Studio in the French Quarter, Lee Dorsey and Aaron Neville were among those who cut records at this Camp Street location during the 1960s. Bronze musical notes etched with their names were long ago laid into the floor here, and they’re one of the first things you see walking into the new restaurant.
A liquor license is still in the works for Rebellion, and the owners plan to add dinner hours once that comes in. For now, Rebellion serves lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @IanMcNultyNOLA.