by Ian McNulty
You can’t yet find this neighborhood identified on your Urbanspoon app, but the folks at Commander’s Palace want to put SoBou on the map. That’s the name of the restaurant a group of partners associated with the famous Garden District dining destination plan to open this spring inside the W French Quarter hotel.
The name is short form for “South of Bourbon” — and that’s riverside of Bourbon for those with strictly New Orleans-centric compasses. SoBou is taking over the space that was long held by Bacco, the Italian restaurant owned by another scion of the Brennan family, Ralph Brennan. Bacco closed early in 2011and the papered-over windows have been promising that a new restaurant concept for the space coming soon.
The team behind SoBou includes Ti Martin, co-proprietor of Commander's Palace, and Tory McPhail, executive chef at Commander’s Palace, and they recently released details of their plan. Describing the venture as “an unexpectedly playful, modern Creole saloon,” beverages will be at the forefront of the concept. For instance, in addition to a large bar there will be enomatic machines, or self-serve wine dispensing systems that allow customers to sample wines not typically offered by the glass, and also a beer garden with booths equipped with their own taps.
"We call it cooking with a Louisiana DNA and adult beverages," McPhail said of the SoBou concept in a release.
The chef for SoBou is Juan Carlos Gonzalez, who has worked at other restaurants under the Commander’s Palace umbrella, including Bistro Alex in Houston.
The cuisine is characterized as “Louisiana street food inspired,” and some representative dishes will include duck debris and butternut beignets, bruleed Creole tomatoes, shrimp and tasso pinchos (a type of tapa) and, naturally, the SoBou burger.”