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Where to Go?
The sure-fire places to find restaurant meals on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are in the big hotels, where kitchen staffs never seem to (or are never allowed to) tire. The Hotel Inter-Continental (444 St. Charles Ave., 525-5566) is serving a Christmas Day champagne brunch in the LaSalle Ballroom; seatings are at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Along with more traditional American fare, German Chef Willy Coln will prepare dishes from his homeland such as ragout with spaetzle and roasted pork loin with stewed cinnamon apples. A special Christmas Day menu will be offered at the Windsor Court's Grill Room (300 Gravier St., 523-6000) from 10:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. for $58. A few independently-owned restaurants will also open their doors on the holiday. Commander's Palace (1403 Washington Ave., 899-8221), for example, is breaking with tradition and opening for both lunch and dinner on Christmas Eve, from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Cafe Indo's (216 N. Carrollton Ave., 488-0444) Christmas Eve menu is five courses for $40, which includes beef carpaccio with housemade hummus and white truffle oil, jasmine tea-smoked duck and millefeuille with forest berries for dessert. Finally, at Marisol (437 Esplanade Ave., 943-1912), where they party year-round, you'll find roast goose and persimmon pudding, among other dishes. Christmas Eve hours at Marisol are 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; on Christmas Day, 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Market Watch
The Crescent City Farmers Market is also open on Christmas Eve, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Uptown Square parking lot (200 Broadway St.). Besides the regular produce selection, vendors will bring plenty of locally made items for purchase as last-minute presents and party favors. To learn more, call 861-5898 or visit

High Standard
If you do visit the Grill Room over the holidays, you'll experience the cooking of new chef Jonathan Wright. His previous work experiences have been primarily in Britain, where he opened his own restaurant in 2000 called La Grousse D'Ail. Before that, he was chef de cuisine at Le Manoir Aux Quat Saisons, which is known to champion organic and locally grown foods. According to a press release, Wright plans to exercise the same ideals at the Grill Room and will hunt down Louisiana farmers, fishermen and purveyors to aid in that goal. He replaces Chef James Overbaugh, who began his stint at the Grill Room in the spring of 2001.

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