A pair of young chefs who helped put the Mid-City eatery Namese on the map for modern Vietnamese food now have their own project cooking nearby.
Farmacy will be the first restaurant from Nhat Nguyen and Chien Nguyen. They expect to open in May at 2540 Banks St. with a menu of casual comfort food and bar snacks drawn from a number of traditions.
The name takes its cue from the new medical complex just down the block, and Farmacy is taking over the Mid-City shotgun that was until recently the home of Dis & Dem.
That burger joint, which is operated by former Dat Dog partner Skip Murray, closed its original location last week. Dis & Dem has a separate location open in the French Quarter, a walk-up eatery housed in the back of the bar Rue St. Louis.
Murray plans to reopen a larger version of Dis & Dem this summer directly across the street from his original Mid-City location at 2600 Banks St.
A third eatery is under development in the same block, the planned grilled cheese restaurant Melt, which is expected to open this spring at 2549 Banks St. They’re all part of a wave of new restaurants and commercial reinvestment in this part town spurred by the massive new hospitals stretching between Tulane Avenue and Canal Street.
At Farmacy, Nhat Nguyen said the menu he and his co-chef are now devising will take a wide tour of comfort food and draw heavily from hand-made stapes. There will be deli-style sandwiches (house-smoked pastrami is part of the plan), tacos, salads and soups, wings and burgers. They’re working on a Chicago-style Italian beef sandwich, a few types of sausage and shawarma-style rotisserie chicken. Vietnamese flavors will likely make appearances, but they won’t be the focus.
“It’s comfort food, it’s bar food, it’s the stuff we grew up eating and the influences of where we lived and where we worked,” said Nguyen. “It’s New Orleans, it’s New York, it’s Chicago.”
Chien Nguyen and Nhat Nguyen are not related, though they did grow up together in the New Orleans East neighborhood of Village de L’Est. Chien worked at Le Foret early on, during that (now closed) CBD fine-dining restaurant’s most impressive phase. Later, he and Nhat teamed up with their friend Hieu Doan, who turned his family’s longtime Tulane Avenue corner store into Namese. Together they crafted a menu which balances traditional Vietnamese flavors with more contemporary culinary styles.
Farmacy will serve lunch and dinner and, like the former Dis & Dem location here, it will have a bar in front and a patio in the rear of its narrow shotgun cottage lot. Pig roasts in the patio are among the chefs’ ideas for Farmacy as the eatery gets rolling.
Meanwhile, the future Mid-City location of Dis & Dem will also be in an old house. Murray, who had been leasing the prior Dis & Dem location, recently bought the adjacent property, a double at 2600 Banks St. His renovation plans call for building a stand-alone bar and a patio facing the side street, South Dorgenois Street.
“It’s twice the size and we own the building,” said Murray. “I think making it permanent is making a statement about this area.”
2540 Banks St.
Projected to open in May
Dis & Dem (at Rue St. Louis)
817 St. Louis St. (open daily, 11 a.m.-2 a.m.)
2600 Banks St. (projected to open this summer)
Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @IanMcNultyNOLA.