It's been a long time coming, but Johnny V's (6106 Magazine St., 899-4880) is now open, serving dinner Tuesday through Saturday.
The restaurant is a partnership between former Cafe Degas (3127 Esplanade Ave., 945-5635; www.cafedegas.com) chef Ryan Hughes and former Clancy's Restaurant manager Johnny Vodanovich, who also runs Monkey Hill Bar (6100 Magazine St., 899-4800; www.monkeyhillbar.com) just next door.
"My style is always rooted in classical French, but here I think we've upped the ante, making it more contemporary," Hughes says.
First courses like steamed mussels, escargot, charcuterie plates and shrimp remoulade may sound familiar enough, and the menu includes bistro classics like hanger steak with fries, and doses of Creole flavor like speckled trout meuniere. But things branch out quite a bit from there. The fricassee of Mississippi rabbit and shiitake mushrooms has rosemary gnocchi, rabbit belly croquettes and kohlrabi; the Dijon-crusted rack of lamb is served with a Chinese black rice cake and mint edamame; and the confit of duck leg gets a satsuma marmalade glaze and a black pepper broth with braised bok choy. In line with the approach he took at Cafe Degas, Hughes also has been preparing many different specials at Johnny V's.
"We're been running between eight and 10 (specials) a night," Hughes says.
Johnny V's is closely entwined with the neighboring Monkey Hill Bar. The restaurant uses the bar at Monkey Hill for its drinks service, and Hughes plans to introduce a menu of small plates at the bar.
"It will be French street food, Korean barbecue, tacos and things like that," Hughes says.
The restaurant opened in late January. Most entrees cost about $25, with appetizers ranging between $9 and $14. The bar food menu will have items costing between $5 and $7, Hughes says.