1032 Chartres St., (504) 308-3106;

Dinner at chef Alex Harrell’s gracious restaurant down one of the French Quarter's quieter blocks always feels a little like an outing to a country home. There’s a clean-lined elegance worked across its progression of rooms and, even when it’s busy, an unhurried sense of welcome from the staff. Harrell’s menu is Southern, but unpredictably so, with a strong current of Mediterranean flavor and an affinity for the seasons. This brings cornbread rendered as a garlicky, creamy spread under smoked pork cheeks and a romesco sauce made from fried peanuts to finish a seared fish. The approach melds well with the bar’s unique niche in sherry, and its wholehearted embrace of hospitality. Dinner daily, breakfast Mon.-Thu., brunch Fri.-Sun. $$$$


The fried oysters Goodenough appetizer at the Carrollton Market are named for chef Jason Goodenough. Each is dabbed with bearnaise.

Carrollton Market

8132 Hampson St., (504) 252-9928;

The allure of this cottage-sized Riverbend bistro is how intimate it feels, and how fully it expresses the goodness of the Southern hamper. A marble-topped table in the middle of the casually elegant room is great, though the best perch is usually the dining bar, a six-seat counter with a view on every phase of a meal as it comes together. You can see the professional vigor and the personal attention to detail worked into chef Jason Goodenough’s menu. This runs through crab salad finished with tarragon aioli and little else, fried oysters Goodenough napped with béarnaise in their shells and seared fish with crawfish fried rice. Dinner Tue.-Sat., brunch Sat. and Sun. $$$$


Advocate staff photo by Ian McNulty - The dining room at Kenton's features a mural in graphite on panels from Nancy Dawes, mother of restaurateur Mani Dawes.


5757 Magazine St., (504) 891-1177;

Kenton’s is still a new restaurant, but it already feels burnished and built in, like the dining destination of a landmark hotel somehow planted far Uptown. There’s a refined rustic sensibility here, starting with a beautiful bar that practically glows with its bourbon collection. On chef Kyle Knall’s menu, it manifests with an affinity for charred and smoky flavors. There's fried grits with country ham and aioli, grilled quail and trout cooked slow and crisp as a chip and then heaped with fresh herbs. With deep booths, a semi-private side room, the front patio and a small oyster bar, Kenton’s feels like it’s made up of different nooks and corners, making a busy restaurant seem more your own. Lunch Mon.-Fri., dinner daily, brunch Sat. and Sun. $$$$


Advocate staff photo by ELIOT KAMENITZ--Rabbit is stuffed with tasso and mozzarella at Oxlot 9 in Covington.

Oxlot 9

428 E. Boston St., Covington, (985) 400-5663;

At chef Jeffrey Hansell’s stylish and modern restaurant in old Covington, even the cheese plate gets a Southern twist (a hit of hot pepper whipped into the chevre, pumpkin seed brittle on the side). Dishes like pompano crusted in almond flour or rabbit stuffed with tasso and mozzarella connect with regional traditions, while the chef makes udon noodles and foie gras feel equally at home on a Southern menu. The wine list is excellent, and the setting in Covington’s beautifully restored Southern Hotel provides more pieces for a true destination restaurant. At the very least, get a drink at the attached Cypress Bar and stroll the grounds beforehand. Dinner Tue.-Sat., brunch Sun. $$$$$

Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter, @IanMcNultyNOLA.