Visit Freret Street early in the evening and you’ll see plenty of families dining together along this restaurant row. Come by a little later, and the dynamic has shifted with younger people moving from eatery to bar.
The newest addition to Freret Street is aiming to appeal to both sets.
Bar Frances opened over the weekend as the first component of a newly built residential/retail development here.
The new restaurant and bar comes from two self-avowed wine fanatics: P.J. Rosenberg, who has spent much of his career in the local wine business, and Mark Latter, who along with his wife Candice Latter owns the Garden District Wine shop Bin 428. Mark Latter is also proprietor of Tujague’s Restaurant, which his family has run since 1982.
When they first discussed their plans for Bar Frances, which is named for Rosenberg’s grandmother, the idea was to be primarily a wine bar. But the concept evolved into more of a restaurant that could double as a café or bar at different times of day.
“People hear wine bar and have a certain idea about it,” said Rosenberg. “So we opened the concept up so families could come, so it was open to everyone. This is a place where you could have a professional meeting during the day or stop by for drinks after dinner.”
Natural wines, local produce
Bar Frances has an open, modern design, and in front it has a shaded patio overlooking Freret Street. While the restaurant is not large, its wine list covers a lot of ground, including many natural wines, or wines made through organic and biodynamic practices. It has the makings for a serious wine program, though one that doesn’t take itself too seriously. The bar has a few wines on tap for inexpensive glasses and carafes and a cellar (of the ground floor New Orleans style, naturally) for others.
The kitchen is overseen by chef Brendan Cahill and sous chef Karisa Glantz. Cahill is new arrival in New Orleans who was recently cooking at a small bistro in Paris. There, he said, he learned to appreciate the French way with fresh and local foods.
“It was a tiny kitchen with no walk-in (coolers), so everything came in that day through the door, ducks had the feathers on, rabbits with fur,” Cahill said. “I was amazed by the flavors we got from these foods.”
Cahill described his menu for Bar Frances as new American with French influences. That menu covers an omnivorous range, though vegetables also take a starring role. Roughly half of the dishes are meatless. There’s charcuterie, hanger steak and grilled fish, for instance, and also a tartare of beets with aioli, gnocchi with charred eggplant and baguette toasts topped with a mix of grilled and pickled mushrooms.
The roasted chicken is served over a tomato viniagrette interspersed with grilled lettuce, watermelon radish and mint, while red snapper crudo is finished with charred scallions and spiked with Aleppo pepper.
Bar Frances serves dinner daily, with late night hours (until midnight) Thursday through Saturday. Lunch and brunch will follow in the weeks ahead.
4525 Freret St., 504-371-5043
Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @IanMcNultyNOLA.