Filets, strips and giant porterhouse cuts are now sizzling at a new CBD steakhouse from the owners of Uptown's Mr. John's Steakhouse (2111 St. Charles Ave., 504-679-7697; www.mrjohnssteakhouse.com).
Desi Vega's Steakhouse (628 St. Charles Ave., 504-523-7600; www.desi-vegasteaks.com) is on the ground floor of the Lafayette Hotel, and it replaces Mike's on the Avenue, which closed around the end of 2012.
The restaurant is named for Desi Vega, the managing partner of Mr. John's and a front-of-the-house alum of Commander's Palace, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse and Emeril's Delmonico. Customer demand propelled the growth, he says.
"We'll have 130 covers a night (at Mr. John's) and we're turning away another 100 people," says Vega. "We can't expand here, so we decided to open down the street in the CBD."
It's a concept he and his partners plan to build upon. Vega says they intend to open the next Desi Vega's Steakhouse on the Gulf Coast.
The Lafayette Hotel restaurant space had housed a steakhouse before as the short-lived Mike Ditka's Steakhouse. More recently though, as Mike's on the Avenue, it became an experiment in resurrecting a culinary hit from the 1990s. Restaurateur Vicky Bayley and chef Mike Fennelly were the team behind the original Mike's on the Avenue, which was open from 1991 to 1999 and drew raves for a fusion cuisine blending Japanese, Indian, Southwestern and Creole flavors. They reopened it in 2010, but this time the response was less enthusiastic. In a message posted on Mike's on the Avenue's website, Bayley explained that Fennelly, who also is a painter, plans to open an art gallery in Maine, and she will be involved with Desi Vega's.
A grand opening for Desi Vega's Steakhouse is scheduled for after Mardi Gras. The menu is similar to the classic steakhouse lineup at Mr. John's, though it omits Mr. John's Italian entrees and adds some different appetizers. Desi Vega's Steakhouse serves lunch Monday through Friday and dinner Tuesday through Saturday.