When chef Rene Bajeux opened a new restaurant inside the Renaissance New Orleans Arts Hotel last year, expectations among some diners were high and also pretty specific.
This Rene Bistrot (700 Tchoupitoulas St., 504-613-2330; www.renebistrotneworleans.com) is using the same name as the widely acclaimed French restaurant Bajeux ran before Hurricane Katrina, and the marketing push promised a similar approach.
Early results, however, fell short of fond memories from the previous Rene Bistrot. But the most satisfying results revolved around traditional fare from the French chef's native Alsace-Lorraine.
So as the restaurant nears its first anniversary, it's promising to see that updated lunch and dinner menus are putting things more squarely back on Bajeux's home turf.
Local ingredients are still prominent (ducks from the Northshore's Chappapeela Farms, baguettes from Uptown's Laurel Street Bakery). But now, among other new additions, there's boudin noir — a robust blood sausage, here topped with assorted mushrooms braised in wine — wild boar Bourguignon over egg noodles, beef tongue and calf liver with bacon, turnip sauerkraut and bourbon cherry jus. The new menus also feature the return of roasted chicken grandmere, which had been one of Bajeux's most popular set pieces at his earlier restaurant. Sampled on a recent afternoon, this dish arrived juicy under a golden-tawny skin dotted with pepper and flecked with garlic over an earthy hash of mushrooms, bacon and fingerling potatoes.
Tarte flambe (an Alsatian pizza), charcuterie, mussels with frites and, at lunch, croque madame sandwiches are all still part of the program. The restaurant offers daily three-course lunch specials, which are usually good deals. Rene Bistrot serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily.