Park Ranger Call
Ralph's on the Park (900 City Park Ave., 488-1000) for information about reduced prices on carriage rides through City Park's Celebration in the Oaks, when you pair rides with dinner at Ralph's. Reservations must be made by 2 p.m. the day of. If you're walking through, or winding down from, Celebration in the Oaks, I recommend stopping by Ralph's bar for a candy cane martini (walkers may take one to go). It's a breathtaking, stiffer-than-it-tastes shake of Stoli vanilla vodka and peppermint schnapps, garnished with a candy cane. The seasonal beverage list also includes mulled wine, Cajun eggnog, hot chocolate, a pumpkin spice martini, a Christmas cookie cocktail and a Popp Fountain Poinsettia made with vodka, cranberry juice and Champagne.
Through Friday, Dec. 31, both local Ruth's Chris Steak House locations (711 N. Broad Ave., 486-0810; 3633 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 888-3600) need just 24 hours' notice to package up any of five classic dishes in party portions to go. Servings of sweet potato casserole, cheesy au gratin potatoes, creamed spinach, broccoli au gratin and Ruth's original cheesecake with blueberry topping can feed eight to 10 people for $25 each.
Pete and Janis Vazquez at Marisol (437 Esplanade Ave.) have a deal for last-minute shoppers: For every $100 in gift certificates, the purchaser will receive a complimentary $17.50 gift certificate to the restaurant. Given enough time, they will also mail the certificates in holiday cards. Call 943-1912.
Philippe Pinon, a native of France who has held high kitchen positions at the Windsor Court Hotel and at Midi South of France, is the new executive chef at Begue's (Royal Sonesta Hotel, 300 Bourbon St., 586-0300).
Bacchanal Fine Wine & Spirits (600 Poland Ave., 948-9111) has a cure for seasonal stress: massage, manicure and wine Tuesdays, held from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. weekly.
Celebrated Blue Period
Cobalt (Hotel Monaco, 333 St. Charles Ave., 565-5595) will be open on Christmas Eve with a special a la carte menu. Choices run the likes of grilled quail with sweet potato gnocchi, and a lobster-shrimp enchilada with cilantro cream. There are several vegetarian options, including a stuffed squash served with braised greens and pumpkin seed-sage pesto.