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Camellia to Bloom in Spring
Brought back from the brink after Hurricane Katrina, the Camellia Grill (626 S. Carrollton Ave., 309-2679) is poised for expansion this spring. Local restaurateur Hicham Khodr , who bought the Riverbend landmark in 2006, recently signed a lease to open a second Camellia Grill in Baton Rouge. He expects the diner to open in April as part of Perkins Rowe, a large mixed-use development near the intersection of Bluebonnet Boulevard and Perkins Road. He says the new restaurant will be modeled after the original with its counter stools facing an open kitchen and its menu of omelets, burgers and freezes. Khodr expects to open a third Camellia Grill in Destin, Fla., as early as June. Originally opened in 1946, the Camellia Grill sat dormant after Katrina until Khodr bought the business and reopened it in April 2007. Khodr also is a partner in the Byblos chain of Lebanese restaurants, which also plans to open its first out-of-town expansion location in Atlanta this spring.


Thai Uptown
Coconut milk and hot chiles are usurping cocktail sauce and Tabasco at the prominent restaurant space at the corner of Prytania and Robert streets. La Thai Cuisine (4938 Prytania St., 828-3080) has moved in to the spot in the heart of the cluster of popular Uptown restaurants there, replacing Felix's Restaurant & Oyster Bar . Felix's original restaurant (739 Iberville St., 522-4440), a French Quarter stalwart, remains open. The oyster restaurant launched this Uptown expansion after Katrina. La Thai Cuisine is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday.


Gimchi for Kimchee
The number of dedicated Korean restaurants in the area doubled overnight with the opening of Gimchi (3322 N. Turnbull Dr., Metairie, 454-6426), a new Metairie restaurant. A long-time standby in Fat City, Korea House (3547 18th St., 888-0654) is the other. The name Gimchi is an alternative spelling of the Korean national dish more commonly translated as kimchee. Gimchi now serves plenty of that fermented cabbage dish, plus sushi and Korean-style barbecue that customers can cook for themselves on individual table-mounted grills. The kitchen will prepare these meats if preferred. The restaurant is housed in the space that had been home to India Palace prior to the storm and it is run by Jackie Chan, who also operates Mikimoto Japanese Restaurant (3301 S. Carrollton Ave., 488-1881;

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