Olde Restaurant, New Owner
The sale is official: two weeks ago John Blancher, owner of Rock 'N' Bowl (4133 S. Carrollton Ave., 482-3133), purchased Ye Olde College Inn (3016 S. Carrollton Ave., 866-3683) from longtime owner Emil Rufin. Rufin's father opened the Mid-City restaurant 70 years ago. Blancher jumped at the opportunity to purchase the neighborhood joint before it ever went on the market, because it's an "old New Orleans institution" he would like to see preserved. "I was only a sometimes customer in recent years," says Blancher, who often made lunch runs to Ye Olde College Inn for chicken-fried steak po-boys when he played baseball for Loyola University. It's memories like this one that inspired Blancher to complicate his already hectic life. "When I was a kid, a real filet mignon had bacon around it. That's how they [at College Inn] do it, and that's how we'll continue to do it." Blancher plans to revitalize the restaurant while maintaining its character and most of its menu, including the flat, diner-style hamburgers and the beloved fried oyster loaves. "I'm going to disappoint and anger a lot of people if I don't," he chuckles. He's right, of course.
Check out the new European-Bosnia Market (3303 W. Esplanade Ave., Metairie, 415-7708), a small store along a bottlenecked stretch of Esplanade Avenue. Along with bargain-basement jars of Nutella, you'll find sausages, cheeses, sweets, soups, fruit juices, relishes, audio cassette tapes, magazines and teas imported primarily from Bosnia, Croatia and Germany. Open Thursday through Tuesday.
La Riviera Restaurant (4506 Shores Drive, Metairie, 888-6238), home of the famous crabmeat ravioli, is offering three-course early bird specials for $15.95. Show up between 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Wining and Dinin
Kelsey's Restaurant (3923 Magazine St., 897-6722) is hosting a winter wine dinner this Wednesday, beginning at 7:30 p.m. and featuring some of the staff's favorite Mediterranean wines. Steamed mussels in a saffron-Champagne sauce will be paired with a 2001 Condes de Albarei Albarino from Rias Baixas, Spain; a 2001 Marco Negri Moscato d'Asti from Italy will accompany raspberry and chocolate-filled desserts crepes. The cost is $55 per person.
Matter of Taste
If you're not up for a full wine dinner on Wednesday, consider the February Wine Tasting at Foodies Kitchen (720 Veterans Blvd., Metairie, 837-9695), beginning at 6:30 p.m. The tasting will showcase six wines from France, Spain and the United States, paired with snacks from Foodies chefs. The cost is $25 per person.