by Ian McNulty
Prime Grille (3162 Dauphine St., 301-1740), which opened quietly last week, has been rolling out its service in stages, and it turns out there is quite a bit on tap here.
Prime Grill is now serving lunch and early dinner (until 8 p.m.) Wednesday through Saturday and brunch on Sunday. Weekday and Saturday dinner service will continue later into the evening once the full schedule is in place. That full dinner service will feature a menu that eschews Creole standards and even contemporary Creole flavors and instead comes from its owners’ Midwestern background. Some examples: bison rib eye, venison stew over pappardelle noodles and a salmon en croute, a dish akin to a beef Wellington but made with fish.
“There are enough restaurants that fake the Creole thing and don’t’ do it really well. We’re both from the Midwest so we decided why not do something that we know and do well?” says Kevin Fruits, who opened Prime with his partner Matt Cummings.
“It’s a very Midwest, meat-and-potatoes thing. This isn’t small plates, this is something you’ll be able to share,” he says.
Fruits and Cummings are service industry veterans who both hail from Indiana. They worked at the widely-acclaimed Gibson Steakhouse in Chicago, among other restaurants, and locally Fruits worked under chef Tory McPhail at Commander’s Palace. In 2009, they opened the Decadence Shoppe, a café and bakery on the edge of the French Quarter.
For Prime, they took over the historic corner building that was long home to Bywater Bar-B-Q before that neighborhood fixture closed early this year. The lunch menu they’re now serving features bison, lamb or turkey burgers, lavash wraps and salads, while brunch includes omelets, pancakes and unusual items like Scotch eggs, which are hardboiled, wrapped in bacon and fried.
“At lunch we do big, huge portions to really feed people and look out for our neighborhood, then at dinner we throw on the table cloths, bring out the linen napkins,” says Fruits.
There’s a courtyard with outdoor tables, and a small back bar is now being expanded. When that work is finished, Fruits says, they plan to run it as a martini and wine bar with its own menu of appetizers. He says they also plan to serve raw oysters from a walk-up window fronting the sidewalk, essentially creating a pedestrian drive-thru for oysters on the half shell.
The partners are working on a third restaurant in the French Quarter. This one will be called Comforts, and it’s planned for the North Rampart Street that was previously the jazz and brass band club Donna’s Bar & Grill. As renovations to that building continue, Fruits says they’re planning a menu that will focus more squarely on game meats, including elk steaks, ostrich filet and duck confit pot pies.
3162 Dauphine St., 301-1740
Lunch and dinner Wed.-Sat., brunch Sun.
The Decadence Shoppe
806 N. Rampart St., 529-8874
Breakfast and lunch Wed.-Sun.