New Orleans - Big, Easy Style



New Orleans - Big, Easy Style
No American city has seen such tragedy and devastation
of late as New Orleans—from the
destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina
to more recent man-made calamities.
But in true N’awlins “laisser les bons temps rouler” style,
the city has bounced back in a big, bold way, dusting off its
heritage, airing its post-tempest travails on HBO
and attracting expats from both coasts jazzed
with ideas and innovation.
Sky global lifestyle editor Jason Oliver Nixon spent time with six
New Orleans notables to get their take on the Crescent City’s
dynamic neighborhoods. Photographs by Joshua Paul October 2011
the impossible catastrophe of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans found itself in a deep
depression: There was a mass exodus of citizens who never returned, whole neighborhoods
lay waste and fallow, and the city’s lifeblood of tourism dollars dwindled. Add the further
emotional setback of the oil spill, and the mix might have been toxic.
But N’awlins rallied, and six years after the storm swept up the Gulf Coast, the city bustles again: The cultural scene
is booming (note the soon-to-reopen Saenger Theatre) and tourism dollars are flowing. In fact, in 2010 New Orleans
had a record year for visitor spending, some $5.3 billion. The city’s many festivals are attracting legions of new fans, streets
are being repaved and planted, the airport is undergoing massive renovations, boutique hotels and restaurants are opening, city schools are racking up high marks, the Super Bowl hits town in 2013 and once-neglected neighborhoods such as
Tremé and Bywater are attracting newcomers. Still, there are quarters such as the Lower Ninth Ward that remain disfigured despite the efforts of AmeriCorps, Habitat for Humanity and contributions from the likes of Brad Pitt.
And yet the city overflows with fresh faces ready for a challenge and ready to rebuild—native sons and daughters
who returned, transplants who perhaps came to help after Katrina and stayed on and creative types who saw a chance
to craft some magic in an environment that is more affordable and easier to navigate than, say, Brooklyn or Oakland.
“One of the unexpected silver linings of Hurricane Katrina was the influx of young people—from artists to musicians,” says Eric Overmyer, the co-creator of HBO’s Treme series and a 20-year resident of New Orleans’ Marigny
District. “It’s an interesting time in New Orleans—it feels really energized and exciting. Still, there’s a lot of work to
be done.” And, indeed, the city feels a bit like the Wild West. “The excitement that I see in New Orleans right now? It
just is,” says DJ Soul Sister, who spins on Saturdays at white-hot Mimi’s in the Marigny. “We love to live life and enjoy.
Everything is a celebration. When you’re in this kind of environment, the only feeling you can feel is excitement.”
We asked a handful of high-flying Nola natives for tips on what to do, see, taste and smell in six of the city’s most-visited neighborhoods. Best of all, this tour doesn’t require a car—just comfortable shoes and exact change for the streetcar.
o one
knows the
Garden District
better than dapper
actor Bryan Batt, who
grew up in New Orleans
and co-owns the Magazine
Street design boutique Hazelnut with his partner, Tom
Cianfichi. Best known for his role as Sal Romano on Mad
Men, Batt is also an author, having just written the coffeetable book, Big, Easy Style: Creating Rooms You Love to Live
In (Random House, October 2011). Says Batt, “I love this
city and am amazed at how she has come back so quickly.
There is still a great deal of work to be done, but the heart
Bryan Batt,
“Magazine Street is
world renowned for
antiques shops such as
Karla Katz, Wirthmore,
Uptowner and Kevin
Stone. But one of my favorites is Jon Vaccari, housed
is an exquisitely renovated
Greek revival home on
historic St. Charles Avenue.”
October 2011
“Clancy’s is the
Galatoire’s of Uptown.
Although frequented and
beloved by locals and visitors in the know, this New
Orleans classic is nestled
within a sleepy,
and soul of New Orleans is back. To tell the truth, the
heart and soul never left!”
Catch the St. Charles Avenue streetcar for an overview of these leafy neighborhoods. You’ll pass under
Mardi Gras necklace-draped oaks as you travel past lush
Audubon Park with its zoo and golf course and the seemingly endless array of vast mansions. Hop off to wander
up-and-coming Oak Street (don’t miss Jacques-Imo’s Cafe)
before jumping back on the streetcar bound for town.
Exit at Jefferson Avenue and walk over a few short blocks
to browse through the dizzying array of shops that line
Magazine Street. Stop for a poboy at The Milk Bar
or Domilise’s, and finish off the day with dinner at
Gautreau’s and live music at Tipitina’s Uptown.
“Margaret and Sallie
Jones of Scriptura
offer the most gorgeous
stationery and imaginative invitations in the city.”
“The heart and soul
of New Orleans
is back.” —BRYAN BATT
“Chef John Harris
created the wonderfully delicious restaurant
Lilette on Magazine Street.
Recently, he opened the
Mad Men-esque Bouligny
Tavern next door. There
are great small plates, a fantastic selection of oysters
and glamorous cocktails.”
Clockwise from top left: A dapper gent
on a street in the French Quarter; Hazelnut
boutique; Actor Bryan Batt; Hové Parfumeur;
The counter at St. James Cheese Co.; A
statue from M. S. Rau Antiques; DJ Soul
Sister; Frosting cinnamon buns at the Cake
Café; the pool at the Hotel Le Marais.
“New Orleans is
known for her cuisine,
but in the Garden District
the grande dame is Commander’s Palace. Whether
it’s the Sunday jazz brunch
or a dinner at 8, chef Tory
McPhail prepares the best
Creole creations paired
with amazing service.” October 2011
“I love the mix of
the French Quarter’s European
and Caribbean
influences. I find
the neighborhood
beautiful and
truly unique.”
“Café Amelie offers wonderful cooking in a charming 19th-century courtyard and
carriage house. I dream of their orange-pepper-glazed Gulf shrimp.”
“I have an affinity for proper, brick-and-mortar bookstores. One visit to the charming Faulkner House Books, and you’ll see why.”
“The Louisiana Music Factory record store carries an extensive selection of
Louisiana and New Orleans music, as well as offering live in-store performances on
Saturday afternoons.”
“Lucullus is an exquisite culinary antiques shop that is so well-curated, it’s like a
petite museum. Owner Patrick Dunne and his staff are incredibly knowledgeable,
not only about the antiques, but also about their sociological history.”
“Meauxbar Bistro is a vibrant neighborhood bistro that consistently delivers great
food. I like the poisson en papillote when I’m in a healthy mood and the spaghetti
Bolognese when feeling indulgent.”
October 2011
Clockwise from left: The bar scene
at Sylvain in the French Quarter;
Elegant seared tuna at Mesón 923;
The incomparable Emeril Lagasse.
Emeril Lagasse,
uperstar chef Emeril
Lagasse owns three restaurants in New Orleans, including his flagship eatery, Emeril’s,
in the heart of the Downtown/
Warehouse District. “It’s ‘go’ time
around here,” he says. “The spirit
of everyone who has been to visit
post-Katrina has been just awesome for this town.” Lagasse has
taken a very active role in rebuilding Nola post-Katrina: Through
his Emeril Lagasse Foundation,
the chef gives back to his adopted
city, aiding with programs such
as Edible Schoolyard Nola, Second
Harvest Food Bank and Kids
Rethink N.O. Schools. When
he isn’t traveling the country to
hile the French
Quarter, the traditional heart of New Orleans,
Boutique Owner/Interior Designer
might be stereotyped as
party central thanks to the
honky-tonk bars and neon signs
that line Bourbon Street, the neighborhood overflows with incredible history, stunning architecture and hidden gems.
Trained as an interior designer, Nola native Nadine Blake spent
several years in Los Angeles and New York before returning home
to open Nadine Blake Interior Decoration & Lifestyle on Royal
Street in the heart of the Quarter. “I adored living on the two
coasts, but I always appreciated coming home,” says the chic, gracious Blake. “In time, it became harder and harder to leave. I came
back to New Orleans, and then the storm hit a year later. Katrina
gave me even more passion for the city. This culture just had to
survive. I’m so proud to be part of the city’s comeback.”
Begin your visit to this masterful mosaic in myrtle-shaded
Jackson Square. Stop for a powdered sugar-sprinkled beignet and
an iced café au lait at the famed, al fresco Café du Monde, then set
out and explore. Walk past Brad and
Angelina’s home on Governor Nicholls
Street and visit the Beauregard-Keyes
House with its boxwood-knotted
garden. Get to know a native for Friday
lunch downstairs at Galatoire’s (try
the soufflé potatoes with béarnaise).
Explore the eclectic Pharmacy Museum and sprawling M.S. Rau Antiques
(Herbert Hoover’s lawn balls, anyone?)
before stopping for a Pimm’s cup at
the sublime Napoleon House. And pop
into the just-opened outpost of historic
Hové Parfumeur on Chartres Street
for soaps, lotions and powders. Finish
off your tour with dinner at newcomer Sylvain, a bustling, dimly lit
gastropub: Pair a potent Sazerac cocktail with the crispy duck confit.
Come nightfall, unwind at the Hotel Monteleone’s just-renovated,
revolving Carousel Bar or enjoy jazz at Preservation Hall or Fritzel’s.
Nadine Blake,
check on his other half-dozen
culinary outposts—or taping
shows for ABC’s Good Morning
America or Emeril’s Table on the
Hallmark Channel—Lagasse can
be found in his Nola kitchens,
overseeing his empire at the
Emeril’s Homebase offices in the
Downtown/Warehouse District
and working with his foundation.
Start your tour with breakfast
at the always-jammed Mother’s,
then hit the cultural scene, from
the galleries on Julia Street to
institutions such as the National
World War II Museum, the Ogden
Museum of Southern Art and the
Louisiana Children’s Museum.
Lunch on crawfish bisque at the
throwback Bon Ton Cafe and
shop for a homburg or planter at
Meyer the Hatter. Try your hand
at the slots at Harrah’s before sipping mixologist Lu Brow’s bloody
mary at the jumping Swizzle Stick
Bar. Finish off your day with dinner at industrial-chic Mesón 923,
where chef Baruch Rabasa crafts
a stellar grilled gulf fish with
couscous, almonds and kumquat.
And before you leave, a meal at
the sleek new Restaurant Ste.
Marie is also a must. Says Robert
LeBlanc, the restaurant’s dashing
co-owner: “It is amazing to see
the post-Katrina revitalization
of this neighborhood, one of the
city’s oldest.”
“Go for the charbroiled Gulf oysters at Drago’s. It’s always
a crowd pleaser.”
“I love the Contemporary Arts Center and galleries along
Julia Street. What were once neglected warehouses now
house renovated lofts and some of the best studios, galleries and
boutiques in the city.”
“Cochon Butcher is not your traditional meat market or deli
counter. The assortment of handmade sausages, chops and
meats is some of the very best in the city.”
“Louisiana artist George Rodrigue’s Blue Dog is a pop-culture
icon. His new arts education center for kids, George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts Education Center, is sure to inspire
the next generation of artists.”
“The Grand Isle Restaurant has the look of a high-end Louisiana fish camp with fresh seafood and cold beer. Grab a seat
at the marble-topped oyster bar and start a conversation with the
skilled oyster shuckers.” October 2011
enowned jazz saxophonist
Donald Harrison,
Donald Harrison grew up in the
Tremé neighborhood, a district just north
of the French Quarter that has come into the
spotlight of late thanks to HBO’s series of the same
name. Harrison, aka the King of Nouveau Swing, has worked
with everyone from Lena Horne to the Notorious B.I.G., but he
remains intricately involved in the New Orleans cultural fabric—his
Mardi Gras costumes are the stuff of legend.
to stay
“Congo Square in Louis Armstrong Park is one of the most important places contributing to the foundation of
contemporary music. It’s one of the only places in North America where people of African descent were allowed
to practice their native culture, pre-Civil War. They practiced their ancient rituals, drumming, singing and dancing here
every Sunday. Africans who were enslaved could also sell goods to make money, and a number of them saved that
money to buy their freedom. I started a cultural group called the Congo Nation to keep what I know of the square’s
traditions alive. The people call me the Big Chief of Congo Square as I lead my group through Tremé on Mardi Gras day.
The square is currently being revitalized to become a cultural park with performance theaters and outdoor venues.”
1 | W French Quarter
“On Rampart Street, directly across the street from Congo Square, you will find the building that housed J&M Recording Studio. Today it is a laundromat, but if you read the placards on the walls, you will see that Little Richard,
Ray Charles, Lloyd Price and a host of other early soul and rock ’n’ roll artist recorded here. It gives me goose bumps.”
Boasts a stunning, mosaic-clad
lobby and the deco-styled
Sazerac Bar.
A chic oasis in the heart of
the Quarter. The beautiful
courtyard garden is a stunner.
2 | Hotel Roosevelt
“Don’t miss the Golden Feather Mardi Gras Indian Restaurant gallery, where you can see some of the most
pristine examples of Mardi Gras Indian costumes. Try the stuffed shrimp washed down with a Bissap Breeze. For
Sunday brunch, hit Lil’ Dizzy’s Café before church lets out. If Lil’ Dizzy’s is too crowded, go to Sweet Lorraine’s.”
“The Dooky Chase Restaurant has been around for as long as I can remember. I go there for the best shrimp
or oyster loaf in New Orleans from the takeaway window, sometimes manned by Dooky himself. Dooky used to
lead one of the most prolific big bands in the city, so we always talk about music.”
“The Backstreet Cultural Museum, the New Orleans African American Museum and the St. Augustine
Catholic Church are also well worth a visit. And the district is home to many musicians. You just might see
drummer Shannon “The King of Tremé” Powell or trumpeter James “12” Andrews relaxing in the neighborhood.”
3 | Claiborne Mansion
An intimate, quiet sanctuary
tucked into the heart of the
Faubourg Marigny. Gorgeous and
4 | Royal Sonesta Hotel
New Orleans
“The people
call me the
“For breakfast, try the Cake Café in the Marigny or
Elizabeth’s in the Bywater—it’s delicious and funky.”
Big Chief of
Congo Square
as I lead my group
through Tremé on
Mardi Gras day.”
Eric Overmyer,
he Marigny and Bywater neighborhoods have been called the Brooklyn
of New Orleans thanks to their artsy
edge and hipster denizens. “When we
purchased our home, the Marigny was
sketchy, a little bit dangerous,” says Treme
co-creator Eric Overmyer. “Today, the
neighborhood is eclectic and exciting.”
Music lovers should head to Frenchmen
Street and Snug Harbor or the Spotted
Cat. And don’t miss the rollicking dining
scenes at Adolfo’s and The Three Muses.
“I love cafés like the Orange Couch, The Sound Café and
Flora Café. Further downtown in Bywater is Satsuma,
located midblock between Piety Street Studios, the hippest
recording studio in New Orleans, and a fantastic flea market/junk
shop called The Junque Shop [stock up on old-school glass Mardi
Gras beads].”
“For dinner, visit Feelings Cafe. Don’t let the name put
you off. Check out the back bar in the beautiful Creole
townhouse. It’s pure 1840s New Orleans.”
Book a room
on the club
level if only to
tap the talents
of Jodi Poretto,
the city’s top
This Nola
native knows
everyone and
5 | Loews New Orleans
Take in the huge rooms and Ti
Martin’s Swizzle Stick Bar and
Café Adelaide just downstairs.
Pick up a copy of Martin’s book, In
the Land of Cocktails.
“My favorite bars? Try neighborhood joints like Deep in the
Bywater, Markey’s and Bud Rip’s. Around the corner from
Markey’s is The Country Club. It’s not your father’s country club,
and you don’t have to be a member. Have lunch, go for a swim,
then have another drink. Or go to the Saturn Bar on St. Claude.”
“Check out music/performance venues such as the AllWays
Lounge, Kajun’s Pub and the Hi-Ho in the heart of the St.
Claude Arts District. Or backtrack to Mimi’s in the Marigny for latenight tapas and funky tracks from DJ Soul Sister. And then work
your way back to the Back Room at Buffa’s on Esplanade to hear
great musicians in an intimate, smoke-free, acoustic environment.” October 2011
1 City //
5 Ways
Panama City
There’s more than one way to discover a destination. By Jeanine Barone
Clockwise from top left: Ralph Brennan in
the NOMA Sculpture Garden; A Napoleon
House cocktail; NOMA Sculpture Garden.
This city is brimming
with an exciting multilayered history that
goes way beyond the
iconic canal.
Flavorful regional cuisine,
just-off-the-boat seafood
and gastronomic fusion
creations will tantalize your
taste buds.
For more photos and info
on New Orleans, go to
(Continued on page 90)
October 2011
With its woodland wonders
and locavore eateries,
Panama City will satisfy
your green spirit.
third-generation scion of the family whose name is synonymous
with the New Orleans dining scene, Ralph Brennan is steeped in the
industry. The owner of six restaurants—from Ralph’s on the Park in MidCity to Café B in Metairie—Brennan has expanded the family’s restaurant
empire beyond its traditional roots in the French Quarter and Uptown.
Ultrapassionate about his hometown, Brennan has played a major role in
post-Katrina community activism and helping to rebuild his city. “Social
responsibility is one of our company’s core values,” Brennan says. “We
encourage every employee to spend time making the greater New Orleans
area a better place to live and work.” One of his favorite neighborhoods is
Mid-City, which includes everything from the New Orleans Museum of
Art to Parkway Tavern & Bakery, a favorite for poboys.
Ralph Brennan,
Vibrant artists and musicians
are the beating heart of this
dynamic capital.
Whether you’re strolling on a
breezy promenade or ensconced
in your hotel suite, you’ll never
be far from azure waters. October 2011
Paul Fredrick
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(New Orleans continued from page 72)
“From City Park to the fairgrounds, the center of town is known
for staging numerous festivals throughout the year. Music and
food defines our city, and festivals such as the New Orleans Jazz
Fest and Voodoo Fest help define our culture.”
White CMYK
Left: Riding the streetcar
through Nola. Below: The
Treme Brass Band at the
Candle Light Lounge.
“NOMA Sculpture Garden: The Besthoff family gave our city
the New Orleans Museum of Art and this incredible cultural
legacy. Catch the streetcar from Canal Street for a scenic trip to this
verdant gem.”
On Sale:
“City Park: It is so impressive that we have the sixth-largest
urban public park in the United States. You are constantly shaded
by the abundance of massive, centuries-old oak trees that grace the
entire area. In the wake of the enormous damage inflicted upon the
park due to Hurricane Katrina, tremendous effort went into restoring
the park’s beauty.”
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“I used to go to Angelo Brocato Ice Cream & Confectionery as
a kid with my mother to get our ice cream. Brocato’s has been
here for over 100 years, so they must be doing something right.”
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“Although it’s a thoroughbred racetrack, many know the
New Orleans Fair Grounds as the site for the Jazz Fest. It was
established in 1852 as Union Race Course, thus making it the oldest
site of racing in America still in operation.” //
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