Tivoli & Lee
926 St. Charles Ave., (504) 962-0909; tivoliandlee.com
“Modern Southern” is the tagline at this Lee Circle bistro, and when the fettuccine ($14/$20) arrives, it looks like some modern rendition of red beans and rice. The red beans are whole and distinct, and they almost completely cover the jet-black squid ink pasta that forms the foundation. Over the top goes a clutch of turtle meat, as rich and dark as beef short ribs. The beans are doused with sherry, which, combined with the turtle, approximates the profile of turtle soup, provided of course you can imagine that Creole set piece sharing the bowl with fettuccine.
Crispy Pork Shoulder
600 Poland Ave., (504) 948-9111; bacchanalwine.com
You still order outside at a walk-up kitchen window at the Bywater’s burgeoning wine and food destination, but the menus that chef Joaquin Rodas has been presenting lately would feel right at home in more upscale digs. While the selection is constantly changing, he always makes room for a pork shoulder dish ($16). The latest seasonal incarnation strongly resembles the Mexican stew pozole, though it’s more composed. Tender strands of pork are fried into a broad, crisp cake covered by the fresh crunch of iceberg lettuce and pickled radish, small, chewy bulbs of hominy and the aromatics of Mexican oregano. For broth, Rodas uses the pork’s braising liquid. While it isn’t exactly light, slurping this up makes a truly hearty dish taste a little more rejuvenating, and that’s just right for hot weather.
Dick & Jenny’s Restaurant
4501 Tchoupitoulas St., (504) 894-9880
The menu at this longtime Uptown favorite saw a significant overhaul after new owners took over last year, adding more northern Italian dishes. But the kitchen’s Creole penchant of layering robust flavors still remains, and it’s beautifully demonstrated by this complex yet light-tasting preparation. Still sweet under a hard sear, fat scallops ($30) are set off by the suffused spice of jalapeño oil, while fennel and grapefruit add tart bursts of crunch and juice to a peppery tangle of arugula.
Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter, @IanMcNultyNOLA.