South Pacific Meets South Louisiana
Chef Roberto Bustillo has introduced new lunch and dinner menus at ZoÉ Restaurant inside the W New Orleans hotel (333 Poydras St., 525-9444; www.starwoodhotels.com) with a decidedly Pacific Rim theme. His blackened opaka paka, for instance, is a South Pacific pink snapper prepared with roasted corn and pickled okra relish and smoked tomato fennel broth. The steamed mero, a South Pacific sea bass, is wrapped in leek and finished with a mint coconut broth. The menu also includes Bustillo's roasted duck breast with a rhubarb cherry jus, which won a silver medal prize in the food competition at the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience this year. The W New Orleans is also serving a high-end, tapas-style menu at its Living Room Bar, with prices for small plates ranging from $12 to $24. ZoÉ Restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily.
An annual summer restaurant discount program called COOLinary New Orleans is scheduled to begin July 1. As in years past, participating restaurants will offer three-course COOLinary menus for $20 or less at lunch and $30 or less at dinner. There were two dozen restaurants signed up to participate at press time, including most of the Brennan-family restaurants and a few Uptown destinations, including Pascal's Manale and Martinique Bistro . The selection of restaurants range from Bubba Gump Seafood Co. to Restaurant Cuvee . One twist for next week, however, is that COOLinary menus are not valid during the holiday weekend from July 4 to July 6. Otherwise, COOLinary New Orleans specials run through Aug. 31. For details and participating restaurants, go to www.nomcvb.com/restaurants.
New Wine Bar Opens
A new wine bar and casual café called the Italian Barrel (430 Barracks St., 569-0198) is open near the French Market. The menu lists 24 Italian wines, with most available by the glass, and a menu of cold appetizers, crostini, panini, salads and desserts. Proprietor Samantha Castagnetti opened the Italian Barrel earlier this month, taking over a space that had long been the Barracks Street Café and more recently had a brief stint as the Drama Café. The eatery has a small bar and an adjoining room with a handful of tables and wine-themed décor.