A corner building in the Faubourg Marigny that appeared ready to collapse not too long ago has been transformed into a coffee shop featuring organic food and drinks and some stunning modern design. Marigny resident Johnnie Sanders opened the Orange Couch (2339 Royal St., 267-7327) in late October, and thought he could differentiate it from the many other nearby coffee houses by giving it a dose of style inspired by his native San Francisco. The project got a boost from Sanders' friend Ammar Eloueini , founder of the international AEDS architecture and design firm and currently an instructor at Tulane University. He designed the Orange Couch's striking interior, which is bright and sleek by day and seems to glow seductively at night. In addition to the standard coffee house drink menu, look for Vietnamese-style coffee with condensed milk, baked goods and mochi , a Japanese ice cream treat encased in rice flour and eaten by hand. The Orange Couch is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
The Bistro at Maison de Ville (727 Toulouse St., 528-9206; www.maisondeville.com) has resumed Sunday brunch service for the first time since 2004. Chef Greg Picolo 's menu includes such offbeat items as grilled grapefruit with armagnac; alligator sausage, fontina cheese, spinach and maple waffles; frog leg grillades and grits; a Monte Cristo sandwich made with ham, currant jelly and smoked Gouda; and sausage and pancake skewers. Sunday brunch is served in the dining room and the restaurant's courtyard from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Glen Hogh , chef/owner of Vega Tapas Café (2051 Metairie Road, Metairie, 836-2007; www.vegatapascafe.com), has reopened one of the French Quarter's distinctive old French-Creole restaurants. Café Sbisa (1011 Decatur St., 522-5565) has been closed since Hurricane Katrina. It first opened in 1899 and for many years was part of the bustling French Market scene. It had several different incarnations over the decades that followed, and closed for a period in the 1970s. Café Sbisa's two dining rooms, balconies and patio are now open for dinner Wednesday through Sunday. Hogh plans to open for lunch and Sunday brunch in the future. While the historic structure looks much the same as it did pre-Katrina, the menu is much larger and more contemporary than the former French-Creole fare.