Early fall is always a tumultuous time for New Orleans restaurants. After the long slow summer, some inevitably fold, and we’ve seen some surprises lately — from the Sammich and the longtime Garden District deli the Grocery (which each shuttered recently), and from Maurepas Foods in the Bywater and NOLA Smokehouse in the Irish Channel (which each plan to close in the days ahead).
On the other side of the ledger, however plenty of new restaurants target this time of year to make their debut and get rolling for the busy season. Here’s an early look at what to expect from a crop of new, expanding or significantly revamped restaurants expected to open in October alone.
605 Canal St., (504) 523-1661
Slated to open: Oct. 10
This modern Creole brasserie from Dickie Brennan & Co. has been under major renovation since mid-August, its most extensive since first opening in the historic Werlein music building back in 1991. When it reopens next week, diners will find updates across the restaurant and its menu, as directed by Robert Gurvich, a chef who worked with the likes of Wolfgang Puck, Daniel Boulud and Jean-Georges Vongerichten before recently returning to his native New Orleans. On the second floor, they’ll find a new lounge with a focus on rum and a menu of small plates, and a dedicated charcuterie kitchen led by chef Rene Bajeux.
219 Dauphine St.
Slated to open: mid-October
From the galley kitchen at the tiny Erin Rose bar, Killer Poboys (811 Conti St.) has always punched way above its weight with a modern approach to the city’s favorite sandwich. Now chef Cam Boudreaux and his crew are getting their own dedicated space. While it’s only two blocks from the original, this new edition will initially focus on breakfast and lunch, with morning dishes and a menu of snacks, sides and salads joining the roster of specialty po-boys, which run from rum-glazed pork belly to a vegan version of roasted sweet potato with pecan and black-eyed pea spread.
611 O’Keefe Ave.
Slated to open: mid-October
The next eatery bound for the South Market District development brings Vietnamese flavors from the popular Uptown café Magasin downtown. The format will be counter-service for quick workday meals, while the menu will bring dishes that proprietress Kim Nguyen described as more “country style Vietnamese.” She said the menu is dedicated to her late grandmother, “recreating dishes from where she grew up in Vietnam and incorporating my own interpretation of Vietnamese food.” Pickled greens over seared pork belly with green melon soup is one example, alongside the familiar pho, vermicelli bowls and spring rolls.
5757 Magazine St.
Slated to open: second half of October
Sean Josephs and Mani Dawes each run their own restaurants in New York (his the Southern-style Char No. 4 and Maysville; hers the tapas restaurant Tia Pol). Kenton’s is the married couple’s joint venture, which brings them back to her hometown (Dawes was raised Uptown) and starts with the bourbon focus for which Josephs’ restaurants are known.
Kyle Knall, who is chef at Maysville, will oversee a menu making use of a wood-burning grill and smoker, and the restaurant will have an oyster bar.
“We’ll have lots of smoked, grilled and charred flavors, which have such an affinity with bourbon,” Josephs said.
Kenton’s will offer continuous service throughout the day, with an approach shifting from coffee and baked goods at breakfast through salads and sandwiches at lunch to a more upscale/casual style at dinner.
640 Tchoupitoulas St.
Slated to open: late October
This cheese shop’s original location Uptown (5004 Prytania St.) has had an outsized impact on cheese connoisseurship around town. A related offshoot, Continental Provisions, carries the torch in the French Market, and this second St. James Cheese Co. will bring another outpost downtown. In addition to the sandwiches, salads and cheese plates from Uptown’s menu, the Tchoupitoulas Street expansion brings a dedicated cheese bar for a different sort of sampling.
2000 O.C. Castle Haley Blvd., (504) 309-2073
More than a dining destination, more than a food court, Roux Carre is designed to the next step for aspiring entrepreneurs in the New Orleans dining world. It was conceived by local nonprofit Good Work Network, which works with women and minorities to build small businesses. Here, they’ll work from six walk-up stands arrayed around a covered seating area and small stage. The first group of vendors on tab include Miss Linda the Yakamein Lady for local street food; Estralita’s Café for Creole soul staples; the Splendid Pig for a more chef-guided approach; Johnny’s Jamaican Grill for island flavors; the Pupusa Lady for ceviche, pupusas and other Central American dishes; and the Youth Empowerment Project, for sno-balls and juices. See more on the project and its final-push fundraising campaign at indiegogo.com.
840 Tchoupitoulas St.
Slated to open Oct. 24
An indoor, year-round Oktoberfest is the organizing principle for this beer hall and eatery taking shape in the Warehouse District. Spread across a brick-lined space, trimmed with Bavarian banners and awnings, there will be a pair of bars pouring a mix of local and imported beers, a kitchen serving bratwurst, pretzels and other traditional German street food and seating at a collection of picnic tables of the sort common to beer gardens. Taking a cue from festivals, the Tchoupitoulas Beer Garden will encourage customers to buy tokens at the door to exchange for drinks and food, though there will also be a full bar accepting cash and cards. Ping pong, foosball and darts are all part of the program too. A grand opening party planned for Oct. 24 will double as a benefit for the nonprofit teaching restaurant Cafe Reconcile, which will received 50 percent of the day’s sales.
Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @IanMcNultyNOLA.