At Salon by Sucre, the French Quarter restaurant from chef and co-owners Tariq Hanna and Joel Dondis, everything is served with an air of sophistication and elegance. French fries are served with caviar, afternoon tea comes with cucumber finger sandwiches and classic cocktails feature brandied cherries and spicy onions brined in house.
The two-story Salon has much to offer, including sweets, cocktails, tea and full-service dining. Fans of the confectioner's chic Uptown and Metairie boutiques will recognize the style of the polished downstairs of the newest location, tucked into a tiny storefront on Conti Street. Tourists and locals toting shopping bags line up to ogle the selection of expertly decorated tarts, brightly colored macarons and delicate cakes and desserts.
A winding staircase leads to a bright and airy lounge and dining area, complete with modern light fixtures, distressed mirrors, high ceilings and white brick walls. Guests can sidle up to a cocktail at the long, white marble bar or take a seat at one of the plush, gray banquettes that line the windows overlooking the Louisiana Supreme Court building on Royal Street. A long dining room in the back of the building offers more intimate dining space.
The lunch and afternoon menu includes bar snacks, sandwiches and salads and an afternoon tea presentation featuring assorted finger sandwiches, pastries and confections, including the shop's signature pastel-colored macarons.
Frizzle sticks — lightly fried breadsticks made from pretzel dough — are paired with smooth Gorgonzola dolce cream that packs a tangy punch and is similar to a fonduta — perfect for dipping.
A selection of charcuterie is accompanied by mustard and briny cornichons and featured in the charcuterie sandwich — a meat-lover's dream in which Italian salami, Spanish lomo and pork rillettes are tucked into a crusty baguette dressed with whole-grain mustard. Thick wedges of bold, pungent Grayson cheese pair surprisingly well with the meats and ooze out of the sandwich.
Poached chicken salad is a step up from the usual lunch standby. Mixed baby greens are tossed in creamy lemon-tarragon dressing and topped with thick slices of juicy chicken breast. A heavy-handed sprinkling of granola adds a nice crunch to the dish but was too sweet, confusing the complementary flavors of the tarragon and chicken.
Even the burgers come off as delicate and elegant. Tiny Wagyu beef "sliderettes" are topped with thick slices of cheddar and smoky, sweet bacon jam. They are served with thick, crispy wedges of Belgian fries sprinkled with crunchy salt crystals.
At dinnertime, savory dishes — available in small and large portions — arrive beautifully presented, adorned with delicate tendrils of microgreens and edible flower petals.Beet salad is almost too pretty to eat: Razor-thin slices of beet are wrapped around soft, whipped goat cheese and topped with shavings of unsweetened chocolate and decorative greens and flowers.
Beef tartare is topped with a quail egg and dotted with puffed rice, which adds a bit of crunch. The dish is decorated with tiny orbs of Dijon aioli topped with slivers of cornichons and flower petals.
An excellent scallop dish comes with a creamy potato dumpling and a sauce thick with olives and sweet morsels of bacon, which nicely complemented the perfectly seared scallops.
At dessert, Hanna's talents shine, and he appears to be having fun working outside the restraints of the pastry case. Miniature chocolate cupcakes are tempura battered and fried, reminiscent of the childhood favorite and county fair standby: the deep-fried Oreo. The tiny cakes come with rich buttercream spread across the plate and velvety caramel sauce.
Tea service features prominently on the menu, but even those who don't consider themselves aficionados may want to try the flowering marigold varietal. The white tea boasts a mild, floral taste and has a visual component: Served in a clear brewing pot, the delicate leaves of the marigold flower uncurl and blossom before your eyes — a dramatic end at an engaging new French Quarter dining spot.