The news on food in New Orleans this week: Mondo in Lakeview will close, Coquette chefs unveiled their new restaurant Thalia, and Freret Beer Room will temporarily close to incorporate new approaches.
As the world turns
Chef Susan Spicer is saying goodbye to her Lakeview restaurant Mondo (900 Harrison Ave., 504-224-2633), a casual fine dining spot she opened 10 years ago to serve a menu combining flavors from across the globe.
Spicer confirmed Aug. 9 that she sold the restaurant. The last night of service at Mondo is Saturday, Aug. 17. In mid-Spetember, a new operator is slated to open Elle-J’s in the spot, which will serve Italian dishes, seafood and steaks in a family-friendly environment.
Spicer says Mondo has been a valued part of her career, but with the lease expiring she decided the time was right to make a move.
“It was a lot of great friendships with customers, great employees we’ve built relationships with, it’s meant being part of the neighborhood where I’ve lived for 30 years,” Spicer says.
Spicer says she is working with her current staff to help them find new jobs with her friends and peers in the business.
New Orleans drivers, slow down. School zone cameras are switched back on Aug. 12.
The sale includes the business, but not the property or name. Spicer plans to open a new outpost of Mondo in the new terminal of the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, one of a several local restaurants tapped to be part of the project. The terminal is slated to open sometime this fall.
Spicer is best known for her first and most ambitious restaurant, Bayona (430 Dauphine St., 504-524-4455), which she opened in 1990. She developed Mondo as a mid-range, casual spot with a wide-ranging menu including ceviche, wood oven-fired pizzas, Thai-style shrimp and pork meatballs, melted Gorgonzola spread and pork shoulder with black beans and salsa.
Spicer also operates Rosedale (801 Rosedale St., 504-309-9595), a neighborhood restaurant not far from Mondo, which she opened in 2016. She said some dishes from Mondo may appear at Rosedale. — IAN McNULTY/THE ADVOCATE
A dining muse
The restaurant is more casual than Coquette, and its menu focuses on Southern and Gulf Coast fare. Small plates range from $4 to $14 and include stuffed artichokes and burrata with muscadines, basil and pistou. Entrees range from $17 to $22, and opening menu dishes include blackened catfish a la Veracruz with Louisiana long-grain rice and barbecue shrimp with Coca-Cola, rosemary, black pepper and peanuts. A children’s plate is $8.
The menu will change often, according to a press release, and there will be weekly specials such as schnitzel on Tuesdays, a vegetarian special on Wednesdays and baked pasta dishes on Thursdays.
Thalia is located in a corner building renovated for the 37-seat restaurant.
Stoltzfus opened Coquette in 2008, and the restaurant is known for its creative menu. Essig joined the operation in 2016.
Thalia is open 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. In coming weeks, it will add 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. happy hours. — WILL COVIELLO
Freret Beer Room (5018 Freret St., 504-298-7468), an Uptown restaurant focused on pairing beer and food, will undergo a change.
Proprietor Eli Gay said the last day for Freret Beer Room in its present incarnation is Thursday, Aug. 15. He plans to close the restaurant and reopen in mid-September with a new approach.
Gay said he is working on a new version that will be more casual. There will be TVs and sofas for lounging, Gay says. Food will remain a big part of new operation, so he’s not calling it a bar or changing the name.
“We have been a restaurant first since our inception,” said Gay. “We just want it to be a more comfortable place for people to come and enjoy. Given our name and focus on craft beer, people were confused when they walked in and found a dining room.”
Freret Beer Room opened in 2016 at a time when the local beer scene began expanding. The beer list had tasting notes and food-pairing suggestions.
Chef Charles Vincent created a bistro menu designed to complement the bar’s beer list, with dishes including burgers, charcuterie, chili-garlic shrimp, roasted beets with hummus and herbs and chicken confit with dumplings. Gay said the cost of that menu became unsustainable. — IAN McNULTY/THE ADVOCATE