New Orleans isn't primarily known for its commitment to beef, but the city has managed to nurture a handful of steak houses that have built identities and followings. On any given night, it's not unusual to see local politicians hobnobbing at Charlie's Steak House, professional athletes dining at Mr. John's Steakhouse, or businessmen digging into a wedge salad at Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse. New Orleans steak houses are, by and large, comfortably familiar to diners. The latest addition to the scene, Doris Metropolitan, flips the traditional notion of the steak house on its head with the kind of streamlined swankiness that makes the case for reinventing the wheel.
Located in the heart of the French Quarter, Doris is the kind of glossy, sleek restaurant that could easily feature a jazz singer belting out standards or a soundtrack of ambient electronic rock with equal success. A dining room heavy on black lacquer and metallic finishes is freshened by frothy bouquets of alstroemeria, with servers applying the kind of attention that makes diners feel coddled. A focal point is the restaurant's mammoth, glassed-in drying case, where cuts of beef are on view like meaty sculptures or hung like chandeliers.
Eating steak is almost synonymous with luxury, and Doris delivers. Unlike many steak houses, Doris dry ages its beef. It's an expensive, painstaking, weeks-long process that results in meat with a concentrated, nuanced taste and succulent bite. Across the board, Doris' steaks offer the depth and subtle layers of flavor one would expect from dry aging, but the knockout is the "classified" cut, aptly named because the wait staff keeps mum about what cut of beef it is. (I believe it's a flank steak.) Order that cut (and others) medium rare to fully enjoy the beef's complex texture and taste. The dish is described as served with a "potato surprise," but mine arrived on a bed of earthy mushroom ragout.
Some may consider ordering a burger at a steak joint sacrilegious, but the Doris burger has one of the most rich, concentrated beef flavors on the menu, heightened by an unctuous blend of Gorgonzola and Gouda and slathering of caramelized onions and mushrooms. Truffle fries are crisp but overwhelmed by liberal application of truffle oil. Doris would be well-served by taking a lighter touch with truffle oil across the menu, where it comes across like a crutch.
Diners would be remiss not to try at least one of the restaurant's lush salads. The tomato Celebration salad lives up to its lively name, with an explosion of colorful tomatoes that needs very little help from accompanying slivers of manchego and a cured egg yolk.
Outside the realm of beef, Doris excels at creating visually arresting dishes. The presentation of yellowfin tuna resembles a Joan Miro painting, with tubes of sweet potato, airy cauliflower cream and clusters of multicolored tobiko (Japanese fish roe) pearls swirled around a dense, perfectly seared tuna steak. The beetroot supreme — an appetizer that could be labeled as an entree — arrives pregnant with surprise, like a peony ready to burst from its bud. The server's dramatic tableside presentation includes slicing the whole roasted beet into quarters to reveal a molten, cheese-and-walnut center spilling out to mingle with the soft beet and slightly sweet mascarpone.
The drinks menu is ever evolving with a wide range of cocktails at the expansive, horseshoe-shaped bar. The Future Ball — a pricy, molecular take on an old fashioned — is a head turner. Other good bets include the James Bond-approved, Vesper-like Femme Fatale and I'll Have What She's Having, an esoteric, sea-foamy take on a margarita.
Doris balances international chic and gilded splendor to create a destination for diners looking to evolve from the confines of an old school steak house.