Thomas Hines had a lot of inspiration from which to draw when creating the menu at Poydras & Peters, which opened last fall inside the Loews Hotel. The chef may have cut his chops working at big-name local establishments like the Windsor Court's Grill Room and a handful of Dickie Brennan restaurants, but more recently he had spent years working all over the world — from Colorado, New York and Chicago to as far away as Thailand and the Bahamas.

Hines returned home to helm the new downtown restaurant, which replaced the space that was the longtime home of Cafe Adelaide, the more casual sister spot from the Commander's Palace family that closed last August.

The physical characteristics of the dining room and bar barely have changed, save for a new rotating display of colorful artworks by local painter James Michalopoulos, while the restaurant's menu feels worlds away from the modern Creole fare served by its predecessor.

Certain aspects of the restaurant feel inspired by local roots — including the name, a nod to a nearby farmers market in the 1830s — but most of the menu comes from the wide culinary brackets of contemporary New American cuisine. A striped bass comes served with hunks of confit fennel and is nestled in a bright and juicy mix of slow-roasted cherry tomatoes and caper berries, a sharp and acidic counter to the crispy-skinned, buttery fish.

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Poydras_and_Peters_Mardi_Gras_Scallops.JPG

Vegetables add color to Mardi Gras scallops at Poydras and Peters.

A salad of roasted squash nestled atop burrata and arugula comes drizzled with an earthy hazelnut dressing, wedges of tart Honeycrisp apples and a nutty pumpkin seed granola. Most elements of the dish deliver, though on one occasion the squash was unevenly cooked and could have benefited from more seasoning to stand up to the other items on the plate.

The menu feels designed with the current season in mind, including a hearty starter of braised oxtail marmalade served atop a large marrowbone. The meaty medley is studded with golden raisins, which impart just the right amount of sweetness and acidity to temper the buttery richness of the marrow and oxtail. The dish is served with fat slices of toasted Bellegarde Bakery bread and topped with crispy fried shallots and a sprinkle of green onions — a dish that might seem out of place come summer, but feels like the perfect winter  antidote.

Similarly, a dish of homemade ricotta cavatelli is comforting and satisfying, wanting nothing beyond a large glass of red wine. The generous portion comes piled high, dusted with a cap of finely grated cheese and flavored with lemon and garlic. The pasta itself is bouncy, soft and chewy in the way that only homemade pasta can be, studded with mushrooms and bits of purple kale, which add a nice cruciferous bite to the dish.

The restaurant's bar still imbues the same downtown charm as before, and a new list of craft cocktails is matched with a creative bar menu that includes deliciously sticky fall-from-the-bone ribs, which arrive lacquered in a Vietnamese-style caramelized glaze made with nuoc cham, lime and red chilies.

The restaurant's business doesn't seem to have quite caught up with its predecessor's. For now, a steady stream of hotel guests appears to make up the majority of Poydras & Peters' clientele — though the prime parade-watching spot could fill up quickly come Mardi Gras.

Hines' food game is strong. I'm guessing it's just a matter of time before the locals catch on.

what

Poydras & Peters

where

300 Poydras St., (504) 595-3300; www.loewshotels.com

when

breakfast, lunch, dinner daily

how much

expensive

what works

bone marrow and oxtail, ricotta cavatelli

what doesn't

dining room crowds can feel sparse at times

check, please

creative takes on contemporary New American dishes inside the Loews Hotel