by Ian McNulty
Chef Chris Cody had a promising but too-brief run at Pellicano Ristorante, a rare fine-dining spot in Kenner that opened in 2008 and closed about a year later.
Now, however, the chef has a new restaurant in the works for a historic property in the Lower Garden District where some of his flavors from Pellicano will get a reprise.
Cody and an investor plan to open Dijon (1377 Annunciation St., phone n.a.) in a former firehouse that has been home to previous restaurants. The chef says he expects to open by March and describes the culinary approach for Dijon as contemporary American/Louisiana. The food, he says, “will be similar to Pellicano but with more of a local twist.” David Oser, who also worked at Pellicano, will be sous chef.
One special feature of Dijon will be a chef’s table complete with its own small kitchen so guests can watch and interact with the chef as their meals come together.
“At a lot of chef’s tables, you don’t see the food being cooked and the chef sometimes just comes around to say hi, but this is going to be a different experience,” Cody says.
Cody was most recently doing a menu of upscale bar food the Roosevelt Hotel Bar (116 University Pl., 566-9444), a watering hole next to (but unrelated to) the Roosevelt Hotel. He left that gig earlier this year as he searched for a new fine-dining project.
Dijon’s future home has some history to it. The brick, Craftsman-style building dates to 1914 and was originally used by the New Orleans Fire Department, which originally kept horse-drawn wagons there, according to a report from the Preservation Resource Center.
It sat empty from 1991 until 2003, when renovations began to turn the vintage space with its soaring, 30-foot ceilings into a tavern called Prime Time Bar & Grill. It would later become a California-inspired eatery called Fire! A Restaurant, though after Hurricane Katrina this business moved to Florida, where it is still in operation. Next, the old firehouse became Big Al’s Seafood, an offshoot of the Houma restaurant and seafood market of the same name.
The building has a large hearth oven in the dining room, a remnant from its Fire! format, and Cody plans to put this through its paces preparing fresh bread. Dijon will have a bar, a courtyard and off-street parking and it will serve Sunday brunch.