The mason jars full of garden-fresh soup from the nonprofit Vintage Garden Kitchen (925 S. Labarre Road, Metairie, 504-620-2495; www.vintagegarden-kitchen.org) have been popular in New Orleans for years, with fans of this unique culinary and social enterprise picking them up from a Metairie production kitchen, ordering them for delivery and, more recently, finding them at farmers markets. Later this month, they'll also be available from a new lunch spot now taking shape in the CBD.
Vintage Garden Kitchen is part of Arc Enterprises, a program of Arc of Greater New Orleans that creates jobs and fosters independence for people with mental disabilities. From Arc headquarters in Metairie, chef Leo Tandecki and his crew prepare a roster of some two dozen seasonal soups and other foods, often using produce harvested from the group's own gardens or sourced from farmers markets.
The group is finishing its new cafe in the food court at the Place St. Charles building at 201 St. Charles Ave., which they hope to open in late January. In addition to soups, the restaurant will serve salads, wraps and fresh bread. Tandecki says they'll eventually add breakfast as well as delivery to CBD addresses.
"It's a small space, but we want to maximize our presence and not be confined to a three-hour lunch window," he says.
The menu also will include fresh juices and Italian-style sodas made with fresh produce.
Customers can still pick up soups at Arc headquarters, and Vintage Garden Kitchen delivers soups on Wednesdays to addresses in a set of zip codes stretching from Metairie to Uptown and Lakeview. Vintage Garden Kitchen also sells soups, salads, produce and flowers from its gardens at the Tuesday and Thursday Crescent City Farmers Markets, held Uptown and in Mid-City, respectively.