Curio (301 Royal St., 504-717-4198; www.curionola.com), the newest restaurant in the ever-expanding Creole Cuisine Restaurant Concepts empire, opened Sept. 19 in the French Quarter.
The owners describe Curio as an "eclectic bistro," and the sprawling two-story, 150-seat space features modern accents and walls adorned with paintings commissioned by Tony Mose, who owns the Esom Gallery on Magazine Street. On the ground floor, there's a long bar and dining room, and the upstairs space has a covered wraparound balcony overlooking Royal Street.
The restaurant's name is a reference to the building's inhabitants in the 1800s — a curio shop, where "curiosities could be found from all over the world," according to a press release. The space later became a meat market and deli and underwent significant renovations before opening as Curio.
Helming the restaurant's kitchen is Hayley Vanvleet, who formerly was the sous chef at Kingfish, owned by Creole Cuisine. She also spent time cooking at Cochon Butcher, Peche and Broussard's, another Creole Cuisine property.
Vanvleet, who says she developed a love for cooking at a young age, cut her teeth at restaurants in Minnesota and Seattle before moving to New Orleans five years ago.
"Since I was 16, it's always been a dream of mine, to run a restaurant in New Orleans," Vanvleet says. She describes her food as a "meeting of West Coast and New Orleans cuisine." The menu has appetizers including white cheddar grits fashioned into crispy "grit tots" served with a tangy roasted red pepper coulis. Tuna and scallop carpaccio is drizzled with ginger-citrus vinaigrette, mint and jalapeno gremolata. Steamed mussels are served with coconut ginger broth and shaved fennel salad.
Sandwiches include a fried oyster BLT served on an onion bun with horseradish mayonnaise and Beeler's bacon. A shrimp Reuben has "pastrami shrimp," Swiss cheese, Thousand Island relish, roasted garlic mayonnaise and shredded cabbage.
For entrees, grilled Bakkafrost salmon is served with farro and heirloom tomato salad, lemon-shallot vinaigrette and smoked pine cone oil. Springer Mountain Farms chicken confit is served with chicory, arugula, white beans, bacon, tomato, lemon and fennel dressing. Grilled rib-eye steak comes with kale salsa verde, charred onion and garlic frites.
For dessert, there's brown butter rum pound cake with a coconut semifreddo, caramelized pineapple and a cayenne caramel sauce, and lemon curd sorbet with fresh berries.
Curio is open for lunch Monday through Friday, dinner daily and brunch Saturday and Sunday.