Perhaps some of the New Orleanians rebuilding homes and businesses after Hurricane Katrina can empathize with what restaurateur Ralph Brennan went through before the 2003 opening of his restaurant Ralph's on the Park (900 City Park Ave., 488-1000; www.ralphsonthepark.com). A thorough renovation of the building across from the gates of City Park took months longer than anticipated and ended up costing $4 million thanks to the type of extensive termite and water damage old New Orleans buildings are adept at concealing until contractors actually dig into a project. But the work resulted in a beautiful restaurant and in March netted Brennan the highest award for renovations presented by the New Orleans Historic District Landmarks Commission. The award also recognized Douglas Mouton and Miriam Salas of Campo Architects and project contractor Landis Construction. The two-story building was originally constructed in 1860 and has housed a number of different restaurants over the years, including Tavern on the Park. Ralph's serves contemporary Creole cuisine from chefs Haley Gabel and Gus Martin.
Bucktown About Town
Two Bucktown eateries are open in expansion locations, one new and the other recently returned from its Katrina closure. R&O Pizza Place now has locations on both sides of Lake Pontchartrain, with its bustling original location in Jefferson Parish (216 Old Hammond Hwy., 831-1248) and its new location in Covington (1630 N. US 190, Covington, 985-871-5465) which opened late in March in the building that had been Gallagher's Restaurant and Bar. It serves a similar menu of po-boys, pizzas and local seafood at each location. Meanwhile, Deanie's Seafood (1713 Lake Ave., 831-4141; www.deanies.com) has reopened its French Quarter location (841 Iberville St., 581-1316), which originally opened in 2004. The space has been remodeled but the menu of fried and boiled seafood, salads and sandwiches remains the same.
Let Them Drink Cakebread
GW Fins (808 Bienville St., 581-3478; www.gwfins.com), the French Quarter restaurant known for its selection of fish harvested from around the world, has hauled in a special dinner with Dennis Cakebread, the owner of Napa Valley's Cakebread Cellars (www.cakebread.com). The dinner, scheduled for April 17, will pair Cakebread wines with five courses from GW Fins chef and co-owner Tenney Flynn. The menu includes Louisiana crab cakes served with Asian slaw in a ginger beurre blanc; lobster salad with mango, papaya, avocado and cherry tomatoes; braised Louisiana red snapper served with a vanilla lobster jus; grilled Colorado lamb loin chop with potato-garlic bread pudding; and a Michigan sour cherry tartlet with chocolate Grenache. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. with a reception with the winemaker before the dinner. The cost is $125 per person, excluding tax and gratuity. —McNulty