The lighting is kept pretty low at the Franklin (2600 Dauphine St., 504-267-0640), and since opening in May, this new restaurant in the Marigny has been keeping a bit of a low profile itself.
There was no big event to fête its debut and no social media drumbeat to precede it. But while building toward its full schedule over the last few weeks, the crew at the Franklin has not been hurting for company. In fact, as soon as the doors opened, the seats around the bar and across the various nooks of its small, dark and stylish dining room filled up.
The Franklin didn’t come out of nowhere, of course. The proprietor, Jason Baas, was a manager at the Uptown bistro Lilette for years. And the chef is Jim Bremer, who has been involved in the New Orleans restaurant business since the 1980s, most recently on the purveyor side, supplying chefs with locally grown produce.
Pink slabs of tuna crudo gently dressed with olive oil, a beautiful salad of thin-shaved raw vegetables, coq au vin with onion rings, beef and strawberry tartare, oyster stew and a tempura-fried avocado with lump crabmeat are representative of a menu that is locally relevant, elegant but fundamentally straightforward. Most entrees are under $20, and most other courses are under $10. The full bar has a highly varied wine selection, cocktails with a seasonal streak of their own and a specialty in fine liqueurs.
The Franklin is open from 6 p.m. to midnight daily. Baas plans to expand the schedule to 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. in the near future. The restaurant doesn’t take reservations.
A shorter route at Square Root
Square Root (1800 Magazine St., 504-309-7800; squarerootnola.com) opened in April with an ambitious, tasting menu-only approach, offering chef-guided dinners of 12 to 15 small courses with a set $150 price tag, which includes tax and tip but not drinks.
This month, the Lower Garden District restaurant began an abridged version of that format, with a tasting menu of eight or nine courses offered for $95 on weeknights. The 12- to 15-course menu is still served on Fridays and Saturdays. Reservations are required. The restaurant also has a second-floor lounge, dubbed Root Squared, which serves charcuterie and drinks and is open for drop-in business.
Plates for pets
New Orleanians never need much encouragement to dine out, but if you’re looking for an excuse today, June 12, remember that a meal at select restaurants across town comes with a community-minded upside.
All day today, more than 50 restaurants are participating in Pause 4 Paws, an annual dine-out benefit for the Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The restaurants have pledged to donate 20 percent of their proceeds from the day to the LA/SPCA and diners pay nothing extra to help. The range of restaurants signed on this year reaches across the dining spectrum. See the complete list at la-spca.org/pause.
Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @IanMcNultyNOLA.