Major grocery stores have been slow to return to New Orleans after Katrina, forcing residents in some areas to travel miles to find something better stocked than the average convenience store. But last week, the latest chapter in a grocery saga in Faubourg St. John began with the opening of Canseco's Esplanade Market (3135 Esplanade Ave., 322-2404), a long-time Metairie grocer expanding into New Orleans. The location has been a grocery store since 1981, when it was called Whole Food Company. The similarly named, Austin-based Whole Foods Market bought the company in 1988 as its first expansion site outside of Texas. Whole Foods closed it in 2005 when it opened its much larger store a few miles away in Metairie (3420 Veterans Blvd., 888-8225; www.wholefoods.com). Lakeview Fine Foods later bought the property and, delayed by Hurricane Katrina, opened it in 2006 as The Market, a stored modeled closely on the Whole Foods concept. It closed last fall. The new owners, the Canseco family, specialize in custom-cut meats at the Metairie market (1519 Metairie Rd., Metairie, 835-0187).
Eggroll Over Beethoven
Philip Chan is known to take a seat behind the piano in the bar of his Asian-Cajun Bistro (8400 Oak St., 422-4964; www.asiancajunbistro.com) from time to time, but recently he turned over the keys to local cabaret performer Phil Melancon. Best known for his funny, original odes to New Orleans life, Melancon now plays piano at Asian-Cajun Thursdays through Saturdays at dinnertime. Melancon, who owns the Neutral Ground Coffeehouse (5110 Danneel St., 891-3381; www.neutralground.org), started playing at the Chinese-Louisiana fusion restaurant after the Pontchartrain Hotel closed for six to eight months of renovations, drawing the curtain on his long-standing gig at its Bayou Bar.
A Sno-Ball's Chance
If downtown streets make you feel hotter than a calzone in a pizza oven, you can now swing by Rotolo's Pizzeria (201 Decatur St., 948-3207; www.frenchquarterpizza.com) to visit its new sno-ball stand. The pizza restaurant is serving 18 flavors, including two cream flavors and three sugar-free flavors, from a take-out window, plus street food like pizza by the slice and gelato from Sophie's (1912 Magazine St., 561-0291; www.sophiesgelato.com), an Uptown ice cream parlor. The stand is open daily from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m., and owner Will Samuels says he plans to introduce additional flavors inspired by New Orleans cocktails, such as the hurricane. Samuels opened RotoloÕs in the former 201 Restaurant space after Hurricane Katrina. Ñ McNulty